The Abia State government said the workers concerned had engaged in an indefinite strike against the previous government to press home their demands.
Governor Alex Otti has commenced the disbursement of salary arrears owed to judicial workers in Abia State over a period spanning eight years.
Disclosing this in a statement on Friday, November 17, 2023, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kazie Uko, said the affected workers had embarked on an indefinite strike before Otti assumed office on May 29, 2023.
The concerned workers had been owed since January 2015.
Uko highlighted the workers’ demands to include the confirmation of Justice Lilian Abai as the substantive Chief Judge of the state, who had been in an acting capacity for over six months.
Other demands listed are the settlement of arrears under the Consolidated Judiciary Staff Salary Structure, leave allowances, and the establishment of judicial autonomy.
The statement clarified that the immediate past administration could only fulfil one of the four demands — confirming the Chief Judge — after then-Governor-elect Otti pledged to do so following his inauguration.
The Abia State Chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) called off the strike in June 2023 after Otti’s intervention and commitment to settle the outstanding salary arrears.
The governor’s spokesman added that the Abia State government has fulfilled its end of the bargain by initiating the payment of consolidated arrears to JUSUN members.
The statement quoted the union leader and chairman, Oracle Chinedu Eze, as appreciating Otti and the state government for honouring their commitment to salary payments.
In a reported message to the Abia State Governor, through the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ikechukwu Uwanna, Eze confirmed the payment.
“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 executives, wish to inform and appreciate you for the first batch of the CONJUSS arrears paid yesterday (November 15, 2023).
“Sir, we are most grateful and thankful sir. May Almighty God bless you mightily. Amen and remain lifted,” the union leader was quoted.