It is no longer news that the recommendation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive CJ by the NJC and her subsequent appointment by the Governor on the 8th day of January 2020 was brought to a lawful close on the 2nd day of March 2020 when the CRHA in exercise of its powers under S. 271 (1) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) rejected her confirmation on grounds of security.  Coincidentally and unfortunately also, her appointment as Acting CJ by the Governor which was occasioned by the retirement of Justice Michael Edem and made pursuant to S. 271 (4) of the CFRN 1999 ( as amended) also expired on the same day 2/3/20 and the resolution of the CRHA was duly communicated to the Executive on the same day. 

It is important to add that His Excellency on  receipt of the resolution of the CRHA and the  advice  of the Attorney General and Commissioner for justice on the need to ensure that a vacuum was not created in the headship of the Judiciary and in compliance with S. 271 (4) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended), proceeded on the 3rd day of March 2020 to swear in the most senior judge, Justice Maurice Odey Eneji in acting capacity pending the recommendation of a substantive Chief Judge by the NJC for appointment.

The law is trite that except the NJC recommends, the present appointment of Justice Maurice Eneji as Acting CJ will also lapse at the expiration of 3 months and the Governor will not reappointed him. S. 271 (5) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) is clear on this. 

What is now news is the misleading publication by the President of the NBA Mr Paul Usoro SAN who in a frenzied expression of his ethnic agenda made himself a sole administrator of the NBA and has been issuing unguarded press statements that is aimed at deriding our sovereign and independent status as a sub national and an affront on our legislative independence as an arm of Government.

It is important to place on record that even though the committee received petitions bothering on the origin of Justice Akon Ikpeme,  but it is instructive to state that she was not rejected on the flimsy ground of being a non indigen by birth but on weighthy and  damaging security reasons which the House decided not to divulge because of the grave implications it will have on the person of Justice Akon Ikpeme. 

It will be recall that the JSC of the state immediately convened a meeting and notified the NJC of its action appointing the most senior judge to act while awaiting the recommendation of the NJC as a mark of respect and due process of appointment of judges in a memo dated 3/3/20 ref. No. JSC /S/71/vol 111/489 duly signed by the Attorney General as Alternate chairman of JSC in CRS.

We want all well meaning Cross Riverians to know that the fear of external influence on Cross River State which CRHA expressed and based its rejection of Justice Akon Ikpeme on is what Mr Paul Usoro SAN is now exhibiting.

We have indeed been vindicated and we give God all the glory for our perspicacity in rejecting the confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive CJ. 

What really does Akwa Ibom state want from Cross River State?

Why did Justice Akon Ikpeme mobilized armed thugs from Akwa Ibom state ( two of whom were later arrested and are still in police custody )  to disrupt the sitting of the House on Friday 28th February 2020?

Why did Justice Akon Ikpeme shut down all courts and ordered JUSUN to mobilize all her members to the CRHA to impress and compel members of the CRHA to confirm her?

It is important to let Mr Paul Usoro SAN know that CRHA is not an arm of NBA but an arm of Government with functions clearly spelt out in the 1999 constitution and will neither be intimidated by Mr Usoro 's threat nor will it surrender its constitutional power of confirmation of  Chief Judge to Mr Paul Usoro SAN.

We challenge Mr Paul Usoro to point any iota of alleged contravention (if any) by the CRHA with respect to the powers conferred on the CRHA by S. 271 (1) supra.

We are not oblivious of the fact that Mr Usoro 's failed political interference and deep ethnic campaigns in the past few months will stop at nothing but we want to state in clear terms that the 9th Assembly of Cross River State will not fold its arms and allow Mr Usoro SAN take over its function nor allow any indigen of Akwa Ibom state dominate or oppress any arm of Government in Cross River State.

We therefore call on all Cross Riverians, to rise in unison to condemn the threat of Mr Paul Usoro SAN ( an indigin of Akwa Ibom state) who is using his last few months in office as president of NBA to fight ethnic battles and usurp our constitutional duties with the intention of imposing his fellow sister from Akwa Ibom state Justice Akon Ikpeme as chief Judge of our state through the same  illegal and fraudulent ways he orchestrated the taking of our oil wells and eventual ceeding of our oil rich bakassi peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon which has now reduced us to penury and excruciating social tension and economic hardship 

The time to fight against external interference is now. Mr Usoro SAN is only an NBA president and not a sole administrator of NBA and cannot also replace his self serving ethnic agenda to impose a lady whom we have rejected to be our Chief judge.

For the record, we rejected her based on the myriad of grave security concerns including the mobilization of armed thugs to the Assembly, shutting down of all courts and   inciting members of JUSUN to compel members through threat messages to confirm her.

The committee also considered as a serious issue the class petition of concerned lawyers who stated clearly that the confirmation of Justice Ikpeme will spell doom in the Judiciary obtainment of judgment by fraud will become the new practice order since Mr Mba Nkweni SAN influences all her judgments.

This allegation was also corroborated by her own admission in a curriculum vitae she submitted to the house with the name of Mr Mba Nkweni SAN as her reference; further investigation also revealed that her daughter practices in his firm.

The petition of accepting bribe from a former Senator and many other damaging reports which the committee considered as too damaging to divulge with its wide security implications on the  were the reasons for the rejection of her confirmation and not merely her origin from Akwa Ibom state. 

We call on the NJC to sanction Mr Paul Usoro SAN for using his office to fight ethnic battles.

We humbly urge the NJC to disregard any letter, petition, or complaint emanating from Mr Paul Usoro SAN or any of his agent, privy, etc. and we  urge NJC to suspend him from participating in any meeting in respect of any issue regarding the appointment of a substantive CJ of CRS as Mr Paul Usoro SAN has  by his selfish conduct reduced himself to an ethnic jingoist and an interested party who is only out to reinforce his peechant for causing pains and hardship on Cross River State.

The role Mr Usoro SAN played in the ceeding of our 76 oil wells is still too fresh in our hearts and even if we do not have the resources to fight back on this, we will continue to carry our function within the ambit of the constitution and we pray to God and Almighty Allah to stand up against any attempt by Paul Usoro SAN to use his position in NJC to impose a CJ that we have lawfully rejected in compliance with S. 271 (1) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) on us. 


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