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Again, C’River magistrates picket Ayade’s office, demand 2-year unpaid salaries

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

For the second time within three months, magistrates from the 18 local government areas of Cross River state have stormed the office of the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, over two years of unpaid salaries.

Recall that they had, early January, staged a similar protest to draw the attention of the government to their challenges. Since then, according to reports, nothing concrete was done about the situation by the government.

Government spokesman, Christian Ita, however, said the protesting magistrates were not properly engaged, hence the propmpt to embark on another protest.

The magistrates faulted Ita for the assertion. In a chat with reporters, their spokesman, Solomon Abuo, said, “In January 2021 when we met with the governor, his deputy and attorney general of the state over our plight, he assured that he would defray the backlog of the 26 months salaries.

“We are most surprised that he has again reneged on his promise. It is very sad, unfair and heartlessness for the state government to treat us this way. Some of us have been evicted from our apartments over inability to pay our rents.

“At that meeting, Gov Ayade set up a committee headed by his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu, who has since submitted his report to him. All that remains is for him to append his signature so that we can be paid. But we wouldn’t know why he doesn’t want to pay us.  He himself agreed that the state government engaged us procedurally.”

Rita Ititim, a senior magistrate, who protested carrying her five-month-old baby, said she had no choice than to bring her baby along to illustrate the plight she had been in over the period.

Ititim lamented that she was finding it difficult to buy drugs, foods and other essentials for the baby and that she was already owing the pharmacies and other creditors. “I feel very terrible that I have been forced out in this cold with my baby to be attacked by sand flies. I feel very terrible. I am close to tears that my baby has to do without drugs and food,” she said.

As at the time of filing this report, no government officials had addressed the aggrieved magistrates to assuage their pains.

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