The Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum has joined in the demand for justice to be done for Hon Justice Akon Ikpeme who was unjustly disqualified from taking over as the Chief Judge of the State. The women Forum not only rejected the claim of her being a security threat but called the action of the State House of Assembly and that of the Governor a Gender based discrimination
It is no longer news that the Cross River State House of Assembly failed to confirm the nomination of Hon. Justice Akon Ikpeme as Chief Judge despite her being the most senior judge, but instead chose to confirm a judge junior in rank to Hon. Justice Ikpeme, Justice Maurice Eneji, who has now been sworn in by the State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade.
The Forum is alarmed by the statement accredited to the Cross River State House of Assembly to the effect that their failure to have Justice Ikpeme confirmed was “that the Hon. Justice would be a security risk to the State if appointed”.
It is worthy of note that Hon Justice Akon Ikpeme has grown through the ranks and has creditably served the State as a Judicial officer for decades without any security issues. We therefore find the utterances and actions of the Governor of the State and the members of the State House of Assembly, unacceptable.
Justice Akon Ikpeme (then known as Barrister Akon Nyong Aquaisua) commenced her legal career in the former Cross river State Ministry of Justice in the early 80’s. She rose to become the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the State. In 1998, as a result of her excellence as DPP, via the recommendation of the then Chief Judge, Justice Effanga to the NJC, she was nominated to be elevated as a judge of the High court. Eventually she was sworn in by Navy Capt Osondu, the CRS Military Administrator at the time, in December 1998. Since then she has carried out her duties as a judge in the state meticulously.
She has been transferred to several hinterland courts in the State, as a result of which she has been compelled to keep two homes for years, but in all of these she kept excelling and there was never any complaint about her work ethic. Justice Ikpeme has been on several electoral tribunals in and outside the state, and has represented the State at international events several times, and at none of these times was she a security risk to the State. She has instead served the State well. The NBAWF therefore wonders why she is being denied her due and being replaced by her younger colleague of the male gender.
Read the press release below
The NBAWF considers that both the executive and legislative arms of government in Cross River State State have exhibited gender discrimination against Justice Ikpeme and therefore calls on the Government of Cross River state to as a matter of urgency, address this anomaly.
The NBAWF further joins all well meaning members of the nation to stand against all forms of marginalisation and discrimination against women.
Advocacy Committee of the NBA Women Forum .