Magistrates in Cross River State on Monday resumed their protest in Calabar over their 26 months unpaid salaries.
The 29 magistrates gathered at the entrance of the Governor’s office carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Ayade stop oppressing Cross River Judiciary, pay us our salaries,’ ’29 esquires are in penury pay us our 26 months salaries,’ among others.
The magistrates had taken to the streets and Governor’s office in January to protest when they were being owed 24 months.
According to the leader of the group and a Chief Magistrate with the state judiciary, Solomon Abuo, they suspended the first protest in January to allow the government to pay them.
Abuo said while they were waiting, the governor invited them to a meeting where a committee headed by the deputy governor, Prof Ivara Esu, was constituted and given one week to look into the issues and submit a report so they could be payed.
“That meeting took place on January 19, so we waited till the end of January and nothing happened. So, we went to the deputy governor and he told us that they couldn’t conclude their work within one week.
“He told us that it won’t be possible for us to receive January salaries, that we will start receiving our salaries from February because by then they will be done with their report.
“Even when Mr Olumide Akpata president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) came down to Calabar and had a meeting with the state government and proffered suggestions on how the issue could be resolved, nothing was done.
“Recently we learnt that the committee had completed its work and sent its recommendations to the governor and the governor has still refused to act on it.
“We have given the governor enough time and made some concessions which are four possible options on how to add us to the payroll system and pay us but nothing is being done.
“If the government was sincere, it would have taken one of the options but the report was sent before February salaries were paid, now we are in March making it 26 months,” he said.
He said they had had three meetings with the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Akon Ikpeme, and she said she was doing something about the issue and needed more time.
No official of the state government had addressed the magistrates at the time of this report and they said they would continue the peaceful protest until they got paid.