*Customary courts to be reconstituted
Acting Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Michael Edem, has unveiled plans to introduce secret agents to monitor activities of judges, magistrates and judicial officers in order to curb corruption among the judges.
The Chief Judge made the revelation in Calabar during his inaugural remarks to mark the beginning of the 2017/18 legal year.
Edem explained that there were 11,516 civil cases, 828 criminal cases and 2,457 motions which will be tackled in the 2017/2018 legal year adding that efforts should be made not to soil the image of the judiciary in dispensing justice.
He said: “the prying eyes of the public are on us all because if one finger of any hand of the judiciary is soiled by oil, the oil shall spread and pollute the entire body.
“The judiciary would not be a collective victim of an individual malfeasance and I will let go the axe ruthlessly on anyone who does that.
“To this end, I have set up a secret monitoring agency to spy and report to me all acts of corruption, no matter how slight.”
He warned the judges to be dutiful by ensuring that courts sit regularly in order to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
“If for any reason a judge or a magistrate would not sit for two days, he must seek and have my permission. Beyond that, a cogent cause would become a deliberate cause which cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Edem said customary courts in the state have not sat since 2015 following the expiration of the tenure of the presidents and members, owing to the absence of the Judicial Service Commission.
He added that with the recent constitution of the commission, it is expected that customary courts would be reconstituted shortly.
In his remarks, Governor Ben Ayade commended the warm relationship between the judiciary and the executive in the state.
Ayade donated the sum of N10million and a bus to the church whose clerics prayed for peace and development of the state at the event.