Despite threat of sack by the state government, Judiciary workers in Ebonyi State on Friday stayed away from work in compliance to the strike directive from their leadership.
Their action crippled the judiciary as courts in the state remained closed for the second day running.
When NAN visited the state Judiciary headquarters, opposite the old Government House in Abakaliki, the state capital, the place was largely deserted.
The workers commenced the strike on Thursday citing the inability of the state government to implement the new Consolidated Judicial Salary Structure (CJSS).
But the state government in a statement by the Head of Service, Chamberlain Nwele, on Thursday night threatened that any worker who failed to appear on duty risks being sacked.
“It has come to the notice of the state government that the leadership of the state Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has called on its members to embark on strike over non-payment of consolidated Judiciary salary structure in Ebonyi state,” said the statement.
Nwele said the state government, led by Governor David Umahi, considers the strike unnecessary and an act of sabotage.”
“In a period when other states of the federation are unable to pay salaries of their workers owing to the negative economic impact of COVID-19, Ebonyi State Government has painstakingly ensured that salaries of her workers are consistently paid as at when due”.
“Government believes that asking for salary increase at this time when the state revenue is on steady decline is unpatriotic and uncalled for”.
“Consequently, the state government hereby directs the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria ((JUSUN) to immediately call off the strike and return to work with effect from Friday 14th August 2020 or risk being dismissed from service”, Nwele said.
The Head of Service further said the attendance of Judiciary Staff will be taken by officials of Ebonyi State Government to aid payment of the August 2020 salary.
But despite the threat of sack and nonpayment of salaries, workers stayed away from the Judiciary Headquarters complex.
Most offices and courts in the premises were under lock and key when The Nation visited the premises on Friday.
The complex houses the Customary Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge and other High Courts and several Magistrate Courts.
All of these and other office buildings, including the Judiciary Library, were all under lock.