NBA Says Ayade’s ‘New’ Judicial Service Commission Is A Nullity

Ebiala, Calabar Branch NBA Chairman

The Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Calabar branch says the purported inauguration of a new Cross River State Judicial Service Commission, CRSJSC, by state governor, Ben Ayade is a nullity.

In a strongly worded statement just issued to the press in Calabar, signed by Paul Ebiala and Effiom Ayi, Chairman and Secretary of the association, respectively, the statement noted that the association “at its emergency meeting held on October 29, 2019, reviewed the unfortunate development of the purported inauguration of ‘new’ members of the CRSJSC by Governor Ayade on the 28th of October, 2019, as well as the illegality of the action” and viewed the act “as a grave infraction of the provisions of Section 197(i)(c), 198,199(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) as well as Sections 2, 4, 5 of the Judicial Service Commission Law, Cap 12. Vol 4 of the Laws of CRS, 2004”

It was specifically noted that, “the 5-year tenure appointments of the members of the Commission which took effect from the 7th of June, 2017, having not expired, the governor cannot legally appoint new members of the Commission. Secondly, by the combined effects of Section 198 of the Constitution and Section 2(2) of the JSC Law, no person shall be appointed as a member of the Commission without confirmation by the State House of Assembly” just like no member can be removed “without two-third majority of the State House of Assembly.” No such removal has been made to the association’s knowledge prompting it to request that Ayade “reverses his action and allow status quo ante bellum to remain.”

Paul Ebiala, who spoke with www.calitown.com early this morning said the NBA had to issue this statement because “the governor’s action is an attempt to destroy the Judiciary and any attempt to destroy the Judiciary is an attempt to destroy the society which is the last hope of the common man. You cannot appoint a Chairman of the JSC outside the sitting Chief Judge. This thing is constitutionally arranged and it has to be so not minding whether you like the face of the CJ or not.” In this instance,  Obojor Anthony Ogar a recently retired Judge of the CRS High Court, was inaugurated as Chairman of the Commission instead of the CJ, in what is being perceived as a flagrant disregard of the law.

Several attempts were made to by www.calitown.com this morning to speak with E. J. Williams, Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly and confirm if a two-third majority of the House decision sacked the Chief Judge-led JSC, but he did not respond. However a source in the House, on condition of anonymity informed that, “Oga Speaker was invited to the Government House that day, it was when he arrived that he discovered that the deputy governor was to inaugurate the JSC. In fact not long after the Speaker’s arrival, Justice Michael Edem, the Chief Judge, led out the entourage of judges and Judiciary people, in protest, out of the event”, further confirming the widening friction between the CJ and Ayade. Independent investigations carried out confirmed that at no time before the inauguration did government comply with the constitutional provisions for sacking or inaugurating the CRSJSC. Government was yet to respond to this NBA press statement at press time.

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