By Stephen G. Fellajuah
The resident Circuit Judge of the first judicial Circuit, Criminal Court ‘’C’’ of Montserrado County, A. Blamo Dixon, has given the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance five months ultimatum to refund their alleged salary of US$182, 268.00 owned them through the government’s illegal harmonization exercise.
He stated they gave the government of Liberia up to July 26, 2023, to settle judges money illegally cut thorough its harmonization policy.
According to Dixon, the amount owed judges is due to government’s illegal harmonization exercise which drastically cut judges salary.
Remarking on February 13, 2023, at the opening of Criminal courts ‘’A’’, ‘’B’’, ‘’C’’, ‘’D’’ and ‘’E’’, the first national Vice President for Judges Affairs of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) decried that the budget of the judiciary has suffered serious shortfalls under the Weah – led administration.
‘’The illegal harmonization exercise was not a national program as contemplated by Article 72 (a) of the Constitution to warrant diminishment of the salaries of justices and judges.
Indeed, there was no salary disparity in the judiciary that is why the US$ 36,453.60 owed each judge, during the period under review is constant across the board.
US$ 36, 453.60 multiplied by five is equivalent to US$ 182,268.00, which the Minister owed the five judges presiding today’’ he narrated further.
But, speaking further on the matter, Judge Dixon urged his colleagues to permit him to report the total amount of money that the Minister of Finance and Development Planning illegally deducted from their salaries over a period of forty (40) months or three years four months, stating from October 31, 2019 at the rate of US$ 911.34 per month as at January 31, 2023 is equivalent to US$ 36,453.60 for each judge, using US1 dollar to $150 Liberian dollars.
According to Judge Dixon, he derived the said amount when he did a case study of his salaries in both Liberian and United States dollars component and added that the result is applicable to all judges because they earned the same salary.
‘’However, this is including the monies owed our magistrates, support staffs, as well as Bailiffs, messengers, drivers, cooks and cleaners before July 26, 2023, our monies must be refunded”, he emphasized further.
Narrating further Judge Dixon added that all of the associate justices of the honorable Supreme Court were earning the same and equal salaries and benefits, likewise judges.
“For those who are against our advocacy for our monies that were cut and the delay in the disbursement of our salaries by the Ministry of Finance referenced us to take recourse of Article 72 (a&b) of the constitution.
‘’The said Article is simple, elementary, clear, and unequivocal and needs no interpretation. Finally, we shall continue the advocacy for the refund of our monies which are increasing everyday as we are working. We shall keep you posted at every opening of court, until our monies are retroactively refunded for our wellbeing and upkeep’’ he noted.
At the same time, Judge Dixon craved for the indulgence of the government of Liberia to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary branch and the entire security sector of Liberia for the fiscal year 2023.
He assured that if the judiciary branch budget increase along with the security sector, it will helps maintain law and order and also sustain the peace.
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