The last might not have been heard about the 29 magistrates who on Monday and Tuesday last week took to the streets of Calabar, Cross River State capital, to protest the non-payment of their salaries for two years, as the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, said to them that their recruitment into the state’s judiciary was fraudulent.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that Ashang made the declaration on Wednesday, at a parley with the representatives of the magistrates, where he threatened to sue the judicial officers for embarrassing the state government with their protest.
A report of the parley released by Mr Christian Ita, Special Adviser, Media ad Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade, stated that the protesting magistrates “acknowledged that they were illegally recruited into the state’s judiciary.”
“In a meeting with the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, the magistrates, represented by their leaders pleaded passionately with Governor Ben Ayade to overlook every irregularity that had existed and regularise their employments. They noted that they were merely victims of the irregularities and appealed to the governor to exhibit a fatherly disposition towards them”, the statement read.
The attorney was said to have reminded the magistrates that their employment was irregular as it did not have the necessary approvals required for the engagement of any officer into the public service of Cross River State.
He then challenged them to bring forward any approvals that were obtained, if any, prior to their engagement or take the government to court if they strongly feel they have a right, insisting that as lawyers it was wrong for the magistrates to blackmail government through a public protest in other to coerce it into endorsing illegality.
“As a member of the Judicial Service Commission, I am aware of the many petitions that trailed that purported employment and the investigations that revealed that some of you do not possess the necessary certification to have been so employed in the first place,” Ashang told them.
Describing the protests embarked upon by the magistrates as blackmail, he wondered why they did not state the correct position to the public but rather chose to whip up public sentiments on the matter.
Ashang, however, assured the magistrates that he was going to work together with the JSC to regularise all the irregularities that existed while hoping that Governor Ayade will exercise his usual deep humanity and give approval to regularise their employment in “the same way he recently regularised the employment of over 2,500 staff that were smuggled into the payroll by improper means.”
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