BY Ada Wodu
The vacuum created by the exit of Justice Maurice Eneji as the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River State may linger unless the National Judicial Council recommends his successor, says the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Eteng Williams.
He said on Thursday this while reacting to the exit of Justice Eneji since September 3, noting that there is no letter recommending anybody for confirmation as the Chief Judge of the state.
“We don’t have any letter before us for us to treat. The vacuum that has been created is not the assembly’s problem. It is judicial problem because the NJC has not submitted anything to us.
“Moreover, it is a constitutional thing. If you read the constitution, it says the governor will send (names) to NJC, NJC will recommend. The word there was ‘recommend’. They did not say they must. And the constitution says the Assembly will confirm. The confirmation is not compulsory. It is either you confirm or you say no. The aspect the Assembly has to do is either to say yes or no.
“As we speak, there is nothing before us. They have not sent any letter to us from either the governor or the NJC. The vacuum created is a constitutional problem and as lawyers, they should understand what the constitution says about that.”
The Speaker further stated that “NJC should do the right thing and follow what the constitution says. The constitution says the Assembly will confirm either yes or no. If we say no, it means it is not confirmed. They know the procedure. They know how it is done. Cross River should not be an exception.”
Before Justice Eneji was appointed acting Chief Judge twice, the NJC had recommended Justice Akon Ikpeme to be appointed as the substantive Chief Judge of the state but the House of Assembly refused to confirm her because the members said she was from Akwa Ibom State and as such constituted a security risk.