66 Staff Attorneys and Magistrates of the Ondo State Judiciary have been sacked by the State Acting chief Judge.
According to findings by CKN News the reasons adduced for their sack was adduced to what was described as "irregular appointment" .
It was gathered that at least 66 magistrates and senior registrars received their letters of suspension or termination of appointments last Friday while others would be issued their letters within the week.
Most of the affected by the purge in the state judiciary included the Magistrates and Senior Registrars employed by the State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) between 2011 and 2016.
The Chief Judge of the state by the act setting up the State JSC is the Chairman.
Justices Olaseinde Kumuyi (rtd) and Temitayo Osoba were the Chief Judges when the perceived “irregular appointments” were made.
In a copy of the letter dated September 13 and made available to CKN News and was signed by the Secretary of the JSC, IIEF, ZD Egbunu, the letter of suspension read that “due to perceived irregularities and lack of due process in your appointment as a Senior Registrar (functioning as a Staff Attorney) in the Ondo State Judiciary within the Judicial Service of the State the Honourable Acting Chief Judge/Chairman of Judicial Service Commission has directed your immediate suspension from the Judicial Service pending plenary consideration and review of the propriety of your appointment process"
One of the affected magistrate who spoke to CKN News on condition of anonymity said that the same judicial service commission that employed them has now shot itself in the foot by now alleging that those appointments and promotions were not done properly hence the suspension.
It is worthy of note to state that the number of suspended lawyers are the bulk of those that employed by the out going retired Chief Judge.
The Chief Judge according to her between 2011 and 2017 in his bid to play his own part in eradicating unemployment in Ondo State expanded the magistracy by building more courts in neighboring villages with the appointment of more magistrates for quicker dispensation of justice.
This move infuriated his other judges according to the source.They complained that their allowances were being thinned out because of the employment of additional Magistrates . The immediate outgoing Chief Judge also created offices for staff Attorneys or Judges Assistants to help with research work for the judges. These were those promoted to become magistrates.
One of the complaining judges during the last administration is now the acting Chief Judge of the Ondo state Judiciary and one of her first act was to declare all our appointments irregular and directed that all staff Attorneys and Magistrates be suspended.
Our yearly wardrobe allowances according to her became available hours after the suspension letter was given to us preventing us from getting our entitlement.
The said wardrobe allowances being 60% of our annual salary is usually used to pay rents or school fees. 66 families have been rendered jobless as we speak she lamented.
According to her,our association ,Magistrates Association of Nigeria Ondo State Chapter is afraid to embark on an industrial action on our behalf for fear of getting an extension of this witch-hunt.
Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the Akure Chapter of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Tunji Oso, said since the JSC which employed the sacked magistrates and senior registrars declared the appointment irregular, the association would wade into it and see what made the appointments irregular.
Oso said the list of the affected judicial officers was being complied for the necessary interface with the relevant government officials, though he acknowledged that JSC which employed the staff could sack them but however said the laid down procedure must be followed.
The State Chairman Of Magistrate Association of Nigeria Chief magistrate Bolatito when contacted by CKN News on phone yesterday ,said she was at a function promising to get back to us but didn't do so as at the time of going to press