Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River on Monday swore in Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the state 10 months after she was rejected by the State House of Assembly.
The swearing-in which took place in Calabar, followed the confirmation of the nomination of Ikpeme by the Cross River House of Assembly on Thursday, Jan. 28.
Speaking during the ceremony, Ayade said that the event brought to a close the internal concerns of the people of the state as it concerned the stability of Cross River judiciary.
The governor maintained that Ikpeme had been chosen by God as a woman of great conscience and one with the fear of God.
“I am of the opinion that everyone of us, both the legislature and executive, should give her all the supports that she would need because we need stability in all arms of government in the state.
“As a child of God; those who come before you to seek justice, dispense justice, ensure that no injustice is done.
“Be firm and know that the position you have attained today is given to you by God; no one fought your battle, it was God who fought it, ” Ayade advised.
In her remarks, Ikpeme said the people of Cross River should expect a judiciary that is forward moving.
She, however, said that she had put the past behind her and was ready to move the state judiciary forward.
“If God has been gracious enough to make this day possible, it will be fool hardy to continue to dwell in the past.
“Like I discussed with the governor, there are areas we really need to catch up on and I intend to do just that; I have those areas in mind and I pray that by the grace of God, before my tenure elapses, we will have advanced in those areas.
“I advise my colleagues in the judiciary to be up and doing because I cannot do it alone; we need to put heads together and identify grey areas in the state judiciary and ensure that we move the state forward,” she said.
Similarly, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Apata, Esq. who was present at the ceremony said that the NBA was extremely delighted that Ikpeme had finally been sworn in.
Apata said that the NBA had been part of the process and would continue to take special interests in what happens in Cross River.
“For us, it is a fitting climax to a long process and I am glad that we have been able to achieve this fantastic outcome that reflects our constitution.
“I am very grateful to God today. So, I call on the new Chief Judge to work assiduously in ensuring that all is well because she is inheriting a judiciary with issues.
“I expect her to work with other arms of government but I also expect her to uphold the independence of the judiciary which is extremely critical,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Ikpeme who was born on Oct. 21, 1959 was first appointed the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River from Dec. 3 2019 to March 2, 2020.
She was, however, not confirmed by the state House of Assembly to serve as the substantive Chief Judge, given room for the swearing-in of Justice Maurice Eneji and Justice Eyo Effiom-Ita who served in acting capacities between March 2020 and January 2021.