For protesting the non-payment of their two years salaries, the Cross River State government has ordered 30 magistrates in the state to stop work.
In a letter dated January 4, and addressed to the magistrates, the state judiciary revealed that the government was unable to pay them since they were appointed in February 2019.
The letter was issued by the chief registrar of the state judiciary, Edem Okokon, on the authority of the acting chief judge of the state.
The letter read in part:
“You are hereby withdrawn from sitting in court till further notice.
“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.”
The registrar advised the magistrates to stay at home “until the issue of your salaries is settled”.
It could not be authoritatively affirmed however if the suspension given to the magistrates will be lifted after they have been paid.
It will be recalled that the magistrates embarked on a protest two weeks ago and one of them identified as Richard Bassey, collapsed at the gate of the Governor’s office during the demonstration.
Similarly, the Nigerian Bar Association, Calabar chapter said it was unacceptable for Gov. Ben Ayade to owe the Magistrates for nearly two years.
The chairman Paul Ebiala said the NBA secretary of his branch has informed him about the government letter to the magistrates, but that he was yet to read it.
Similarly, the NBA President, Olumide Akpata, had also threatened to sue the Cross River government on behalf of the magistrates.