- They are indolent, says Okorocha
Legal officers in Imo State Ministry of Justice yesterday marched through the streets of Owerri to protest non-payment of their eight months’ salary arrears and unlawful suspension of seven directors of legal services.
Wearing their black and white gowns, the law officers numbering over 20 under the aegis of Law Officers Association of Nigeria, LOAN, Imo State branch, noted that, “this is the first time in the history of the state law officers are subjected to such unwarranted conditions.”
Addressing newsmen shortly after they had converged on Government House, Owerri, Chairman of the association, Pius Nwanyanwu, disclosed that the state government had not paid the salaries and allowances of its law officers since May this year.
Nwanyanwu also noted that Governor Rochas Okorocha suspended seven directors of legal services for no just reason.
“The law officers and indeed the entire Imo people have described these actions as deliberate punishment of law officers and their families since May 2015,” he stated.
Despite all these, the law officers said they had tried beyond human endurance to keep themselves on duty till date, adding that after carefully considering all these actions and inactions militating against their official duties and welfare, they resolved that from Monday, December 14, they will keep away from all official duties and offices till their salaries and allowances were paid in full.
They called on the government to recall the suspended directors, restore means of funding all government cases, provide office for Director Public Prosecution, DPP, armed policemen like before, pay law officers four years arrears of both annual practicing fees and bar conference fees and Duty Tour Allowances, DTA.
Receiving complaints of the law officers on behalf of the state government, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor, Kingsley Uju, promised to deliver their message to the governor, adding that their grievances would be addressed.
However, Governor Okorocha while addressing journalists earlier on current issues in the state, chided the law officers by saying they had never won a single case for the state since 2011 he assumed office.
“Since I came here, the state has never won any case through the Ministry of Justice, the state has lost over 2,000 cases involving it and others and yet I pay the law officers 200 times more than what their colleagues collect in other states of the federation. Take, for instance, a level 8 officer in the Ministry of Justice in Anambra State collects N57,000, others pay N170,000 as salary, in Imo we pay them N490,000 and I asked them if I can I bring it down to 200,000, they said no, then I paid the N200,000 into the bank and they refused to collect it, that is the problem, I don’t owe them.” (National Mirror)