Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Cross River state magistrates have resolved not to sit back and watch the state government deprive them from practicing their profession in the state. This is coming after the Chief Registrar of the Cross River State Judiciary, Edem N. Okokon sent a letter to the Coordinator of the group informing him about their withdrawal from Court sitting.
Speaking after they held their meeting in Calabar to deliberate on the next action to take, the coordinator of the magistrates, Solomon Abuo Orem said they received the letter with a great sense of displeasure. He noted that they will soon notify the public about their resolutions on the matter after much consultation and deliberations are concluded.
“On 14th of January 2021 we received a letter from the acting Chief Judge signed by the chief registrar of Cross River state judiciary. In the letter we were directed to suspend our sittings in court until further notice. Now we as legal practitioners, it’s either we are practicing our profession at the bar or on the bench after taking our oath of office as magistrates.
“This letter can be interpreted to mean that we’ve been deprived of practicing our profession on the bench as magistrates because the suspension letter does not state how long we are to sit at home; but we’re just asked to stop sitting with immediate effect.
“Now we decided to call ourselves together to deliberate amongst ourselves on the import of this letter and what next to do. So for now we are going to leave it here and as things develop we will let you know. We’ve not taken resolutions yet, we’re still deliberating and we’re still going to have another meeting soon. We’ve not concluded, we were not able to arrive at a definite resolution on the next step to take so we’re still deliberating on it”, the coordinator revealed.
Meanwhile, the letter which was made available to TNN reads thus: “I have the directive of His Lordship, The Honourable, the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River State, Hon. Justice Eyo Efiom Ita to inform you that, in view of the state Government’s inability to pay you salaries since your appointment in February, 2019; you are hereby withdrawn from sitting in Court till further notice.
“There is no conscientious reason to have allowed you work without pay for all this while as you may be tempted to fall into corrupt practices in order to survive. There are in fact, a handful of reports already received against some of such magistrates; hence this directive.
“Accordingly, you are advised to stay at home until the issue of your salaries is settled.
“We regret every inconvenience this may cause you but it is necessary in the interest of our Judiciary”.