Controversy as Cross River says It did not employ protesting magistrates
“We didn’t admit that our employment was fraudulent. Our employment is neither illegal nor fraudulent.
The ding-dong between the Cross River state Executive and Judiciary branches of A government continued on Tuesday as the Ayade-led government denied that the protesting magistrates were employees of the state. In a statement released by the Cross River state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, denied that the state employed the magistrates who have been protesting for about a week now. According to Ashang the magistrates’ recruitment was irregular and fraudulent.
The statement reads: “The protesting magistrates, at a meeting, acknowledged that they were illegally recruited. “Represented by their leaders, the magistrates pleaded with Governor Ben Ayade to regularise their employment.
“Their employment was irregular as it did not have the necessary approvals required for the engagement of any officer into the public service. We challenge the magistrates to present any approvals that were obtained, if any, prior to their engagement or take the government to court if they feel they have a right…”
Ashang thereafter promised to work with the Judicial Service Commission to correct all irregularities in the system.
However, the Chief Magistrate, Solomon Abuo, who attended the meeting, said neither he nor his colleagues admitted to their employment being fraudulent. According to him “We didn’t admit that our employment was fraudulent. Our employment is neither illegal nor fraudulent.
The Judicial Commission advertised vacancies in the magistracy and we applied. We were screened, interviewed and successful ones were sworn in by the Chief Judge, who is also Chairman of the State Judicial Service Commission. After our swearing-in, we were sent for about three months’ training and a one-week induction course in Abuja. We were issued certificateS of participation by the National Judicial Institute.”
Abuo further said that: “When we returned, we were posted to different courts and we resumed sitting. To my knowledge what was expected of us was done. Ours was to follow the process, apply for the job and made ourselves available to be screened.
“When we were not paid, we wrote a series of letters to the government and it has set up different screenings about three times which we participated in. If there was anything, they should have made it public since. Why now?”
Various commentators have wondered why and how a minor administrative process concerning a co-arm of government has been handled with so much levity and allowed to degenerate to the present levels.