Cross River government and protesting Magistrates are engaged in a silent war over the payments of two years salaries of the later.
Governor Ben Ayade had in a letter signed on behalf of the acting Chief Judge of the state, Eyo Effiom Ita, by Chief Registrar Edem N Okokon, last week ordered the sack of 30 magistrates protesting the non-payment of two years worth of salaries.
The letter stated that since the state has been unable to pay them since February 2019 when they were engaged, they had been withdrawn from sitting in any court until further notice.
And a few days after the withdrawal letter, the government has again insisted that the 29 magistrates forfeit the 24 months salary iwed them if they want to continue in their employ.
But the magistrates had maintained their position that their wages must be paid in full, denying that they delegated anybody to negotiate on their behalf with regard to forfeiture of salary.
In a letter dated January 19, 2021 and signed by their coordinators including Solomon Abuo, Esq, and Arit Edem, Esq, they stated unequivocally that they would not in anyway accede to the request of forfeiture of 24 months salaries as proposed by the Attorney-General.
They rather suggested a one year imp payment and then staggering the remaining one year across a few months within a year.
The letter read in part: “We wish to set the records straight by stating that after an emergency meeting, we resolved that we were not going to forfeit our 24 months salaries as proposed by the Attorney-General.
“Nevertheless, we are open to accept a one (1) year lump sum payment and thereafter, the balance could be staggard in subsequent months.”
Speaking earlier, one of the coordinators of the distressed magistrates, Solomon Abuo, said as judicial officers and people who are law-abiding, they are staying at home for now.
He said they would continue to pursue the matter till they ge justice because they were employed legally and have handled some sensitive cases before now.