CRISIS HITS A’IBOM JUDICIARY
… Judiciary Staff Union berates Chief Judge over divisiveness, poor staff welfare.
By Our Reporter
In what was received as a good radiance, the administration of Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot has snowballed into a nightmare according to the staff of the state judiciary and members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Akwa Ibom State Chapter.
The union has hinted their readiness to stage a protest against what they described as police intimidation, harassment, divisiveness and poor welfare of staff, among many other anomalies.
In a statement released by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Akwa Ibom State led Comrade Oku John Umoh, the union frowned at the recurrence attempt by the Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot to cow union members not to speak up against the numerous violations and Ill-treatment meted out on the staff and union members.
The latest of her intimidation happened on Monday 25th April, 2022 where she petitioned the Union’s Chairman to the Police and sanctioned his arrest for daring to speak up against her ploy to withhold the package for the 2022 Workers’ Day Celebration.
It is understood that the union dared the Chief Judge when it was evident that the CJ had concluded to sponsor her “favorite” one, Katele Henry Ajah to host few staff on Workers’ Day while leaving the union to their fate, even as report has it that the said Ketele Ajah was seen bragging that he has been empowered to host the staff on the said day.
The reaction of the union’s chairman did not go down well with the CJ as she ordered the Police to grill the union’s chairman and keep him for several hours before the intervention of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) which took over the matter and signed for the release of the JUSUN’s leader.
Again, on Thursday 28th of April, 2022, the union’s leader, Comrade Oku Umoh was greeted with a query over the same issue that took him to the police for interrogation and settlement.
Similarly, the union decried that they are yet to fully receive her last year’s Christmas welfare package which they said have left the staff unsettled and uncomfortable with the leadership style of Justice Obot.
Comrade Umoh lamented,
“Our members welfare has now gotten to an all-time low as last year’s Christmas package is yet to be completely delivered. The treatment was so poor that workers were returned to the inglorious era were rice was shared in cups. Outright rejection of the act made the committee in charge of disbursement to repackage the rice into 5kg and 10kg bags for few, albeit, local rice with huge deposits of sand.
“We have never had it this bad as the voice of the union was an indicator to the Management of the needs and demands of the staff for a better welfare and working atmosphere, but a situation where our plights made known are seen as threats is a misnomer in a proper administrative environment.”
JUSUN in their press statement expressed displeasure over the flagrant abuse of the principle of due process by the Chief Judge, stating that transfers are now politicized, used to haunt members and done without regards to good conscience.
They made a case for Mr. Afaha John Afaha, a former Head of Administration of grade level 16 who is due for retirement in 4 months. Union explained that as a senior staff who has pad his dues, Mr. Afaha is supposed to either remain at the headquarters pending his retirement in August 3, 2022 or posted to a High Court with respect to his grade position and not a Magistrate Court at Awa, Onna LGA. The union added that this action is tantamount to human-right infringement and injustice according to the civil-service guide.
Also, issues of sidelining Head of Courts (HoCs) and District Resolution Officers (DROs) in imprest increment which the union fought for was described as barbaric, unkind and a way of depriving officers who are really deserving and in serious need of the imprest.
The statement reads, “The Chief Judge decided to increase money for Judges, Magistrates and Chairmen of District Courts without accommodating Head of Courts and District Resolution Officers because they are non-legal officers and members of the union.
“We believe the DROs need the imprest more than the Chairmen of District Courts who are sitting at home and collecting a whooping Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) without going to work as the Governor is yet to constitute members of the District Courts.
“Registrars who are Head of Courts are given meagre Fifteen Thousand Naira (N15,000) imprest which covers for running cost, stationary, cleaning of court premises including grass cutting and other exigencies including augmentation in diesel which is now selectively given by the CJ’s ‘preferred’ plant unit officer. We have taken all these anomalies up with the CJ for a review but to no avail as the CJ has instead slashed the sum to a laughable Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000).”
Reacting to questions from newsmen, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the union, Comrade Idongesit Mbat lamented that the union has been forced to sit on a keg of gunpowder awaiting imminent explosion. The information officer collaborated the position of the chairman while laying emphasis on the factionalism of the union by the Chief Judge through Mr. Katele Henry Ajah whom she openly describes as her ‘preferred’. Mbat wondered why a Chief Judge will charge the executive and members of the union to love and cooperate with Mr. Ajah if they desire her love in return.
The union also disclosed that the present Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot has accused the former Chief Judges including the immediate past Justice Godwin Abraham for never releasing Christmas packages nor workers’ package to staff during Workers’ Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, when The Crest Newspaper reached out to the Chief Judge, she said she cannot be intimidated or allow the union to be used against her administration.
She added that she cannot divulge the information to the reporter as she does not know the reporter nor the news outfit. Efforts to get some answers from her proved abortive.
©The Crest Newspaper.