From Judex Okoro, Calabar
As Cross River State magistrates continue their protests of unpaid 24 months salary arrears, a protesting magistrate, Richard Bassey, collapsed at the governor’s office.
On Monday, January 4, about 30 magistrates embarked on an indefinite protest action to demand the payment of arrears owed them by the state government.
Magistrate Bassey is among those who were employed by the government two years ago after undergoing rigorous interviews and later deployed to various courts across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state.
Bassey, who collapsed about 10:00 am while protesting with placards in front of the main gate of Governor’s Office, was later rushed to a nearby private hospital after he was revived with
some packets of sachet water and a bottle of coke.
One of his colleagues and Chief Magistrate of the state, Solomon Abuo, said Bassey is currently receiving medical attention.
Speaking further, Abuo decried the ill-treatment meted out to them by the state government, questioning the commitment of the government to their welfare.
He revealed that the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, had to render financial assistance to a magistrate, Safiya Iyeh Ashipu, who protested alongside her children to help her pay her house rent.
According to him, since their employment, they have undergone several screenings and the protest is their last resort.
Cross River State Deputy Governor Prof Ivara Esu, who showed up at the protest, declined to address the magistrates and drove past them.
But speaking with journalists on the matter, the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River, Justice Eyo Effiom-Ita, said he was aware of the situation but he did not know for how long the magistrates had been owed.
‘I was appointed Acting Chief Judge two and the half months ago and I heard that some magistrates were appointed, but the governor said he did not give clearance for their appointment and so will not pay them.
‘Until Governor Ben Ayade changes his disposition, there is nothing anybody can do, otherwise, all representations have been made but the governor is holding firm that he never approved their employment.