From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Magistrates in Cross River State have protested non-payment of their 24 months salaries.
The Magistrates, drawn from the 18 local government areas of the state including 11 from Obudu, besieged
Governor’s Office about 9:00am today
and demand payment of their arrears of salaries.
The Magistrates, who blocked the second gate of the Governor’s Office, carried a number of placards with various inscriptions reading “No Bliss no blush, we are not crystallised nor olumpoticised”, “Cross River State Magistrates in penury”; “we have right to employment”; “Magistrates in Cross River State are thrown out of their rented apartments, Ayade pay us”.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting Magistrates, the Chief Magistrate to Cross River State government,
Solomon Abuo, said the protest is their last resort.
He said:” We are protesting the non- payment of our 24 months salary. This is January and we have been discharging our duties to the state government.
“We have courts that we are heading and we have been working for the state government to bring about peace and tranquility to the society yet the governor does not seem it fit to pay us our salaries despite our entreaties, pleas, letters, correspondences, screening upon screening.
“After our employment and swearing in, we have undergone four screenings, each of them the governor will ignore the report requesting him to pay us our salaries. Do this is our last resort.
“Right now we have 30 Magistrates affected across the 18 LGAs of the state, funny enough the governor’s local government has the highest number and the state does not care.
“Is it wrong for one to serve the state. As Judicial officers, are we supposed to go through this kind of humiliation. That’s the question we want answers to. Besides, we are all family men with children in school, we cannot pay children’s school fees.
“Last year one of the Magistrates was arraigned before a fellow Magistrate for inability to pay house rent. Most us us can’t pay our house rents, we are squatting with colleagues and all that.
So, we will continue to protest and no more court sittings until we are paid”, he said.
At the office, neither the governor Professor Ayade, nor the Deputy, Professor Esu, was around to address the protesting Magistrates.