Few weeks ago, some Magistrate in Cross River State protested nonpayment of their two years salaries in the state capital Calabar. Their action did not go down well with the state government who felt it was an embarrassment to the state.
The latest report shows that the Cross River Government has asked them to stop work, on the 4 January in a letter to the magistrates, that the government was unable to pay them since they were appointed since 2019.
Edem Okokon, who is the chief registrar of the state judiciary, said he was authorized by the acting chief judge of the state to write the letter to the magistrates.
“You are hereby withdrawn from sitting in court till further notice,” Mr Okokon said.
“There is no conscientious reason to have allowed you without pay for all this while as you may be tempted to fall into corrupt practices in order to survive. There are in fact, a handful of reports already received against some of such magistrates; hence this directive,” he added.
The registrar advised the magistrates to stay at home “until the issue of your salaries is settled”.
If the magistrate will be re-engaged after their salaries are eventually paid remain a mirage. It is a sad turn of invent for the magistrate who recently marched on the street of Calabar for nonpayment of their two years owned salaries,
It was some time reported that one of the magistrate collapsed at the gate of the governor’s office during the protest match in the state capital .
The Nigeria Bar Association has cautioned the government, they air their voice through the chairman of the state chapter, Paul Ebiala, in the state capital Calabar. In hi sword, he said it is unacceptable for the government not to pay the magistrate their salaries for two years.
Mr Ebiala, who spoke to journalist before the sack of the magistrates, said the government action could render the magistrates susceptible to bribery and corruption.
The government initially said the delay in the payment of the salaries was caused by “irregularities” in their employment. But Mr Ebiala said such “irregularities” should have been corrected a long time ago.
Mr Ebiala said, Thursday night, that the NBA secretary of his branch has informed him about the government letter to the magistrates, but that he was yet to read it.
The NBA President, Olumide Akpata, before now, threatened to sue the Cross River government on behalf of the magistrates.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Tanko Ashang, told journalist, Friday, he was aware of the sacking of the magistrates, but said he could not comment on it because “it is a judiciary matter”.