A magistrate in Odukpani, Cross River State, Safiya Iyeh Ashipu, has led a protest alongside her two children over the non-payment of her salary for over two years by Governor Ben Ayade.

Ashipu, a Chief Magistrate at the Odukpani jurisdiction, is among the 29 magistrates, whose salaries and emoluments were stopped by Governor Ben Ayade who has been having a running battle with the state judiciary for close to two years now.

One of such battles was the controversy which surrounded the replacement of the former chief judge of the state, Justice Michael Edem, who retired on November 29, 2019.

While Edem announced Justice Akon Ikpeme, the next in rank to him as the Acting Chief Judge, Governor Ayade rooted for Justice Maurice Eneji to replace Edem in contravention of the order of seniority in the state’s judiciary. Reason, however, prevailed and Ayade later swore in Justice Ikpeme.

When contacted over the issue of the protest, Mr Christian Ita, Special Adviser to Governor Ayade on Media said that the case of the magistrate was the issue of the irregularities in her employment and that of others.

“The process of engaging them was not followed through. Even if the governor gave the order that they should be employed, after employing them, you still have to go back to the governor to sign so that they can be enrolled on the payroll.

“That was not done. This was also the case with the 1,500 civil servants. The governor only signed their employment off and they started receiving their salaries from October last year. All she (Ashipu) needs to do is to go back to the Attorney-General of the state, find out which of the processes was left out and get that rectified and be on the state payroll.”

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