Non-payment of Cross-River Magistrates' salaries 'disgraceful' –NBA | Ripples Nigeria
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Non-payment of Cross-River Magistrates’ salaries ‘disgraceful’ –NBA

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The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has described the “excuses” by the Cross River State Government over the non-payment of salaries of Magistrates for two years, as “disgraceful.”

In his statement on the development on Friday, the NBA President, Olumide Akpata, said he had been meeting with the Attorney-General of the state before his emergence as the NBA President on how to resolve the problem to no avail.

He added, “The NBA therefore expects that now that the unfortunate situation has become an issue of public knowledge, reason will prevail and the Cross River State Government will see its way clear to resolve this issue in the interest of the state, the legal profession in Nigeria and the Magistrates concerned.

“In the meantime, this situation has reinforced the need for the NBA to activate its public interest litigation machinery to institute actions to address situations like this, if only as a last resort and the NBA will do so imminently.”

He said other specific cases “of this nature across the country” which the NBA could be taking up in court included “financial autonomy for the Judiciary and true independence of the Judiciary in matters concerning it”.

“While this appears to be a tall order, the NBA will continue to deploy every resource available to it to ensure that this ultimate objective is achieved sooner rather than later,” he said.

Mr Akpata described as “disgraceful and completely unacceptable” the situation “that resulted in about 30 magistrates resorting to public but peaceful protests to demand the payment of their salaries”.

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According to the NBA President, the Cross River government headed by Governor Benedict Ayade said it refused to pay the magistrates because it did not authorise their appointment.

He stated, “The NBA assures all concerned persons that it will continue to do all that it is legally able to do to ensure that the issue of non-payment of the Magistrates is also resolved.

“The excuses reportedly provided by the Cross River State Government as the basis for non-payment (being the fact that the Governor of the State did not authorize the employment of the Magistrates) is rather unfortunate considering that the constitutional power to appoint the said Magistrates is not vested in the Governor but in the Cross River State Judicial Service Commission (which duly appointed them), and the state has, in any case, continued to utilise the services of the magistrates for upward of two years.”

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