An unusual protest was recorded in Cross River State on Monday morning as magistrates distressed by non-payment of their salaries for two years, protested with placards in front of the Governor’s office in Calabar.
The affected magistrates said to be 45 in number are yet to be paid any salary two years after being formally engaged and posted to different courts.
The group protest was triggered by one of them, a single mother of two children, Safiya Iyeh Ashipu – of the Chief Magistrate Court, in Odukpani Local Government area who did a lone protest in the early hours of the same day with her two children.
Safiya and her children stormed the governor’s office gate as early as 8.am with displayed placards appealing to the state government to respond to their plights.
The placards read thus: “Your Excellency, I am a mother of two. I have not been paid for two years, please pay me”. “Your Excellency My Governor, You have the power to help us and change our lives, for the better. Please pay our mother”. Your Excellency My Governor, Please help me to complete my ENT treatment. Please pay my mother her two years salary.”
A passerby Enome Amatey who responded on the sight of the woman through his social media handle noted thus: “She is a single mother of two and has had a difficult time providing for her boys within the period. Needless to say she and her family did not have the kind of holiday we all had”.
“We are calling on the Government of Cross River State to in the spirit of the New Year come through for this lady and her 28 colleagues and as a matter of urgency take steps to pay them; Needless to point out the impact of their non-payment on the dispensation of justice in their respective courts.”
Another number of magistrates later joined the protest and one of them Solomon Abua, a Chief Magistrate, explained that they are a total of 45 magistrates that were appointed two years ago. Out of the 45, 29 of them came from private practice while others came from the State Ministry of Justice.
What that means is that the 29 who came from private practice have not been paid a dime for two years. The others who came from the state ministry of Justice are also not paid as magistrates, even though they may have been collecting salaries as lawyers under the state ministry.
Abua noted that all 45 of them magistrate have been working and attending to various criminal cases including those of suspected hoodlums who recently used the guise of ENDSARS protect to cause wanton destruction of government and private property in the state.
He disclosed that they have written numerous memos seeking a remedy to their situation but nothing has changed for two years.
According to him, it is the first time development of this kind has occurred in the state were magistrates embark on protest and are being owed.
He appealed to the state governor to kindly bring remedy to the plights.
As at noon hours, no government official answered them nor came out to address them.
However, a government official who pleaded not to be named assured that the governor was aware of the situation and will respond to their demand.