The action of the Ben Ayade-led government of Cross River State in declining the confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge of Cross River State has been described as legally and morally wrong, and amounting to kinetic injustice.
An Akwa Ibom-born legal luminary, Barrister Ekong Sampson, who was conferred a Ph.D. in Law at the 33rd Convocation of the University of Calabar, stated this while addressing guest at Naks Royal Hotel, Calabar.
Ekong Sampson said it was inconsistent that the same people that jubilated over the emergence of Barack Obama, an African-American of Kenyan parent, becoming the president of the Unites States of America, are the same people denying Chief Justice Akon Ikpeme the opportunity of becoming the Chief Judge of Cross River State on the grounds that she is Akwa Ibom born, despite being Cross Riverian by marriage and having worked so meritoriously over the years for the judicial arm of the Cross River State government.
“I think denying Honourable Justice Ikpeme the Chief Judge chair in Cross River state is kinetic injustice. I speak not as a Commissioner but as a lawyer and as one of us”, Ekong Sampson told his Calabar audience, stressing that Cross River and Akwa Ibom States were ethnic cousins, hence should a handshake across borders rather than slip into worrisome politics of discrimination and disregard for the institution of marriage.
“We jubilated when Obama whose parents are Kenyan was elected and sworn-in as the President of the most powerful democracy on earth, yet right in our midst we introduce some abhorrent dimensions to politics when someone is to be made the chief judge of the state. That is worrisome. We should not encourage actions that will undermine the unity that exists amongst us as cousins. The same way we leapt for joy when Obama President emerged in the United States, we should also be happy when someone qualifies to be placed in an eminent position in our quarters”, Sampson said.
He further cautioned that people in the corridors of power should be wary of the fact that wrong procedure favours nobody for too long. He said wrong procedures that people supported to the detriment of others will always work against them at some point in future. What will bring unity, love and forge alliances should be encouraged, he added.
“Within the theatres of government, I have been very insistent that policy must drive politics and not the other way round. What we have in Nigeria is that a lot of times, politics drive policies, that is why we have a lot of distortions, subversions and wrong doings. I think Nigeria would move much faster if policy drives politics”.
Ekong Sampson who is a former two-term member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly recalled his days in the state legislature when a Supreme Court Judgement impacted the revenue of Cross River State negatively he said the unanimous agreement of law makers with the then Governor Godswill Akpabio to support them from what was coming to Akwa Ibom then without any whimper, clearly underscored the bond that existed between the sister states. Such bond, he said, must be deepened and guarded very jealously.
In his message of appreciation, Barrister Ekong Sampson thank the Akwa Ibom State Governor Mr. Udom Emmanuel for his encouragement and support for his pursuit. Sampson who has led various Executive Council portfolios in the past five years of the Udom Emmanuel-led government of Akwa Ibom State and currently serving as Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, in said Mr. Emmanuel’s interest and support for education and human capital development made it easier for him to go through the programme.
The new Doctor of Law said the privilege of interacting with very cerebral, principled, insightful and learned lecturers, friends and colleagues which his intellectual odyssey in Cross River State has availed him will be treasured at all times.
He however called on lawyers to rise to the challenge of nurturing value, rather than drawing pity, hat will take the African continent to the next level through advocacies for things must be done properly, maintaining that when things are done properly the society will be the better for it.