Imo Judiciary is on life support, says ex-magistrate
As the issue of non-payment of Imo judges’ allowances for about 16 months and other frustrations on the judicial officers continue to rage, a magistrate in Imo State, Dr. Ahiezechukwu Daniel, has resigned his appointment, saying that arm of government is on ‘life support.’
He accused the state government of frustrating and putting that arm of government into a state of backwardness.
Daniel who spoke at the weekend while addressing newsmen and members of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), said he tendered his resignation last December, after considering the high level of sufferings the state government, under the watch of Rochas Okorocha has subjected the judiciary to, allegedly cutting the salaries and allowances of both judges and magistrates at will.
As a result, he said he was prepared to govern the state. He promised to save the judiciary by restoring the lost glory of the courts to desirable standard and that of the state, if given the opportunity in 2019.
He said: “Imo state judiciary is on life support. Our courts are ramshackle. They are like where sheep are being grazed. As I speak with you, in Imo state, the judges are owed about 14 months of salary. They cannot talk. They are stranded. They cut salaries of magistrates in 2015 by 54 per cent. The same later happened to judges.
Meanwhile, both the immediate past governor of Imo State, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim and the Owerri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), have called on the state governor to pay the judges their 16 months allowances.
NBA, chaired by Lawrence Nwakaeti, in separate statements at the weekend, disclosed that the body had filed legal action against the state governor at the Industrial Court, Owerri.
The statement said though the National Judicial Council (NJC) had the statutory duty among others to pay the judges salaries, the state governor has the duty to pay allowances to the judicial officers from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which the state governor had been accessing.
Reacting to the accusations, the state governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said it was not the duty of the governor to pay judges salaries. He urged them to put their records straight.