Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has described Justice Akon Ikpeme as a covenant child destined to be the state’s Chief Judge.
He spoke on Monday when he swore in Ikpeme as the state’s chief judge.
The governor said: “As God has touched my heart, so did God touch the heart of every person in the position of taking decision in your favour. That has resulted in your swearing in today. To God is the glory. You are a covenant child.
“This brings to close the people’s worries about stability in the judiciary. We definitely do not need any distraction; be it in the judiciary, legislature or the executive. We need consistency and harmony of the three arms of government, while also keeping the constitutional provisions for the separation of powers.”
Justice Ikpeme, after taking the oath of office, said: “The judiciary under my watch will cooperate with the executive and legislature so that we can move Cross River State forward.”
Justice Ikpeme is the second female Chief Judge in the state. She is 62 years, and became a judge on November 16, 1998.
Her nomination was initially rejected on grounds that she could be a ‘security risk’ to the state, being originally from Akwa Ibom State but married to a Cross River man. She waited 10 months to be promoted after the governor swore in Maurice Eneji, her junior, as acting Chief Judge.
Justice Ikpeme succeeds Justice Micheal Edem who retired in November 2019.
National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata, who attended the swearing in, said: “The NBA is happy that the right thing has been done. We are delighted. It is a fitting climax to a long struggle. The ability to resolve huge challenges is the hallmark of leadership. The outcome reflects the internment of our constitution.”
He urged Justice Ikpeme to work assiduously; knowing that she is inheriting a judiciary with a lot of issues. “I pray God to give her the strength and wisdom to navigate the stormy waters. We expect her to work and cooperate with the other arms of government, but at the same time uphold the independence of the judiciary,” he added.