The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Imo State chapter have intervened in ongoing verbal altercations between Imo State Governor,Rochas Okorocha and his predecessor,Ikedi Ohakim.
Ohakim had accused Okorocha of withholding Judges salaries for 16 months and vowed to go on protest on the streets of Owerri if the Imo State Governor fails to pay the Judges in the State in full by March 2018.
Okorocha replied saying Ohakim goofed by making false claims, stating that it is not the duty of the State government to pay judges their salaries as such responsibility is with the National Judicial Commission, NJC.
But the Nigeria Bar Association, Imo State chapter in a statement on Friday and signed by its chairman, Lawrence Nwakaeti said Ohakim was right in his claims as judges in the State have been denied “the payment of various categories of allowances like housing, motor vehicle maintenance,security, welfare, (up keep) etc borne by the state government from funds provided for that purpose, whereas the salaries of the judges are paid directly through the National Judicial Council (NJC)”
Nwakaeti said “The Bar states with sadness that the issue of payment of the allowances of our judges has been reduced to a political issue by the Government of Imo State in a bid to undermine, muzzle and intimidate the judicial arm of government contrary to the principles of separations of powers enshrined and guaranteed under sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”
“It is very sad that after accessing the funds meant for the above purposes, the government of Imo State in its characteristic manner misappropriates same. This has been going on for the past one year and some months. The Bar, being the spokesperson of the Bench, as a result instituted an action on behalf of the Judges of Imo State Judiciary at the National Industrial Court in suit No NICN/OW/58/2017, on behalf of our Judges”
“Nigerians should note that the Government of Rochas Okorocha is hell bent on destroying all institutions in the state that are creations of the laws of the land and these are institutions that ensure the growth and sustenance of our democracy. The Government of Imo State has shown that it is a present and looming threat to democracy and Rule of Law”
“This is a man that has consistently disobeyed the judgments of our courts in a way that calls to question his legitimacy to continue in office as Governor. For instance, the Pensioners of Imo State who are beneficiaries of a judgment of the National Industrial Court on the 5/7/2017 are still battling to get their pay cheques for over two (2) years arrears of pensions and gratuities. It should be noted that the former Chairman of the Pensioners Union for Imo, Mr. Ezeji, died in his sick bed clutching dud cheques issued to him by the Imo State Government” the statement stated.