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NBA Calabar flays vacuum in Chief Judge’s Office


From Nsa Gill, Calabar

The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Cross River State has condemned the vacuum in the office of the Chief Judge. It said it is unconstitutional to have a State High Court without a Chief Judge.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has remained silent over the situation seven days after the tenure of the acting Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Eneji, expired.

Justice Eneji’s tenure expired on September 2 and he cannot be reappointed having served two conservative tenures of three months each.

Chairman of the Calabar NBA Paul Ebiala said the absence of a Chief Judge portends danger for the state.

He said: “The absence of a Chief Judge is like shutting down the system completely, it is just like having a state but no governor.

“A judiciary without a Chief Judge is shut down completely; a similar thing applies to the House of Assembly. Once the Chief Judge is not there, activities of the judiciary are crippled. There will be no one to assign cases, nobody to attend to official or administrative matters.

“We condemn the non-appointment of the substantive Chief Judge. Whatever needs be done should be done immediately for the Chief Judge to occupy that office.

“It’s bad that we can’t even go to court because the vacation court cannot sit because there is no one to assign cases which should have been done by the Chief Judge.”

The judiciary is currently on its annual vacation which will end on September 23. The expectation is to make the most senior judge, Justice Akon Ikpeme, the substantive chief Judge. But her recommendation has been rejected twice on the pretext of her being a non-indigene of Cross River.

Ikpeme is still in service and Eneji has served out the tenures in acting capacity. The third and fourth in ranking have reportedly declined taking up the position of acting Chief Judge, arguing that the rightful occupant, Justice Ikpeme, be given her due.

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