*Says Constitution Does Not Provide For Approval Of The Governor To Be Sought In Magistrates’ Appointment

The Eastern Bar Forum has written an open letter to the Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade over the non-payment of salaries of some Magistrates in the state for two years.

The Governor has refused to pay salaries of some Magistrates in the state on the basis that no approval was given by him before their appointments.

However, in an open letter written by the Eastern Bar Forum, the Governor has been urged to show compassion by paying these Magistrates, having duly performed their duties.

The open letter reads:

OPEN LETTER TO SIR (PROF) BENEDICT BENGIOUSHUYE AYADE, GOVERNOR CROSS RIVERS STATE

5th January, 2021.

HIS EXCELLENCY, SIR
(PROF) BENEDICT BENGIOUSHUYE AYADE, GOVERNOR
CROSS RIVER STATE.

Sir,

PROTEST BY MAGISTRATES IN CROSS RIVER STATE OVER NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES: A TIME FOR COMPASSION

On Monday, 4th January, 2021, we were jolted by the news of a public protest in front of the Cross River State Governor’s Office, Hope Waddel Avenue, Calabar, by a Magistrate in the Cross River State Magistracy, Chief Magistrate Safiya Iyeh Ashipu, of the Chief Magistrate Court at Odukpani, Odukpani Local Government Area and her two children over non- payment of salaries and other emoluments for almost twenty four months. The protest later took another twist when Her Worship and her two kids were joined by other Magistrates over the same issue and this has continued for two days running with a promise by the Learned Magistrates to continue with the public protest until their demands are met.

Our investigations into the issue revealed that Your Excellency’s grouse with this set of Magistrates is that they were employed by the Cross River State Judicial Service Commission under the Chairmanship of the immediate past Chief Judge of the State, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Michael Edem without your approval.

Your Excellency, as ministers in the Temple of Justice, we must advice that by virtue of the provisions of Item 5(c) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution as amended, the powers to appoint Magistrates squarely rest with the State Judicial Service Commission. No where did the Constitution provide that the approval of the Governor must be first sought and obtained. However, we find it practical that the finances of the State should also be considered when appointments are made.

Investigations also revealed that the Magistrates had since their employment discharged their duties with integrity, charisma, efficiency, dedication and loyalty to the Government and good people of Cross River State since their employment twenty four months ago.

Be that as it may, in the spirit of compassion, we on behalf of the entire learned members of the forty-five (45) Branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in the Old Eastern Region of Nigeria that constitute the Eastern Bar Forum, implore you to show compassion to these Magistrates. We cannot at this stage throw away the baby with the bath water. Whatever the grouse you may have with the process of their employment, in so far as they have served your Government and the people of Cross River State with all the strenght and dignity they can muster all these months, we believe the time to show compassion has come by the payment of all their salaries and for the Government to take steps and streamline whatever issues that may have arisen from their employment.

Your Excellency, we urge you to show leadership in this matter in this difficult times. As the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjanim Nethanyahu once said ” Leadership is not to do the easy thing, leadership is to do the right thing even if it is difficult.
Your Excellency, the right thing to do at this point is to extend your heart of compassion to our learned Magistrates.

God bless His Excellency!
God bless Cross River State!!
God bless the Eastern Bar Forum!!!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!!

Your sincerely,

Soseipriye LongWilliams Esq.,
Governor, Eastern Bar Forum.

Hon. Sir Ray Akanwa Esq,
Secretary.

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