Cross River: Magistrates resume protest over unpaid 26 months salaries

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Magistrates in Cross River, Monday resumed protest over their 26 months unpaid salaries at the Governor’s office in Calabar.

 

The magistrates who were 29 in number manned the entrance of the Government House, Calabar wielding different placards with various inscriptions such as “29 esquires are in penury pay us our 26 months salaries”, “Ayade stop oppressing Cross River Judiciary, pay us our salaries” amongst other inscriptions.

Recall that on January 8 the magistrates had protested while it was still 24 months unpaid salary arrears but had to dialogue with the state government to find amicable ways to sort out the Imbroglio which has apparently failed.

Speaking with Vanguard at the entrance to the governor’s office during the protest on Monday, leader of the group, Mr Solomon Abuo, a Chief Magistrate with the Cross River Judiciary said they suspended the first protest in January to give room for the government to start work immediately in ensuring that they got payrolled.

Abuo said while they were waiting, the governor called them to a meeting and in that meeting, formed a committee headed by the deputy governor and gave them one week to look into the issues and give a report so they could be payrolled.

His words: “That meeting took place on Jan. 19, so we waited till the end of Jan. and nothing happened, so, we went to the deputy governor and he told us that they couldn’t conclude their work within one week.


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“He told us that it won’t be possible for us to receive Jan. salaries that we will start receiving our salaries from February because by then they will be done with their report.

“Even when Mr Olumide Apata president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, came down to Calabar and had a meeting with the state government and proffered suggestions on how the issue could be resolved, nothing was done.

“Recently we learnt that the committee had completed its work and sent its recommendations to the governor and the governor has still refused to act on it.

“We have given the governor enough time and made some concessions which are four possible options on how to add us to the payroll system and pay us but nothing is being done.

“If the government was sincere, it would have taken one of the options but the report was sent before Feb. salaries were paid, now we are in March making it 26 months,” he said.

Speaking further, Abuo hinted that they have had three meetings with the newly sworn-in substantive Chief Judge of the State Justice Akon Ikpeme and she maintained that she was doing something about the issue and needed more time.

When contacted, the Senior Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Gov. Ayade, declined commenting on the matter.

However, a government official who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard that the governor had given instructions for the deputy governor, Prof. Ivara Esu to handle the matter and a report has already been drafted and the matter would be treated accordingly.

Moreso, the protesting magistrates have vowed to continue protesting peacefully until they were paid their salaries no matter how long it took.



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