Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Judiciary workers in Abia State have expressed their profound gratitude to Governor Alex Otti for living up to his campaign promise of clearing their eight years of salary arrears.
The workers under the aegis of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, Abia State chapter, in ‘a thank you’ message to the Governor, commended him for being a man of his words.
JUSUN, in the message signed by its Chairman, Comrade Oracle Chinedu Eze, confirmed that they had received the first batch of the payment of the arrears, pouring encomiums on the Governor.
The message read in part: “It is with a grateful heart full of joy and happiness that I, on behalf of the entire Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria members and executive, wish to appreciate you for the first batch of the CONJUSS arrears paid yesterday (November 15, 2023).”
The message conveyed through the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ikechukwu Uwanna, further read:”Sir, we are most grateful. May the Almighty God bless you mightily, and remain lifted.”
Judiciary workers who had been owed since January 2015, had embarked on an indefinite strike against the immediate-past Government of Okezie Ikpeazu, to press home their demands, shortly before Governor Otti assumed office on May 29, 2023.
They had also demanded the confirmation of Justice Lilian Abai as the substantive Chief Judge of the state, after she had been on acting capacity for over six months.
The workers also demanded the payment of the arrears of Consolidated Judiciary Staff Salary Structure, leave allowances and judicial autonomy.
However, out of the four demands, the previous administration was only able to grant one, the confirmation of the Chief Judge, and that was after the then Governor-Elect, Dr. Otti, had declared that he would confirm Justice Abai, after being sworn-in as Governor.
The intervention of Governor Otti and promise to pay the outstanding salary arrears led to the calling off of the strike action by the workers under the aegis of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Abia State Chapter, in June 2023.
Otti had also promised to wipe off pension arrears after the on-going biometric verification of workers and pensioners.
He has repeatedly said that the senior citizens would no longer be owed by the end of December 2023.