Judiciary Workers’ Strike: Courts shutdown enters second day, may become protracted

The crippling nationwide strike embarked upon by judiciary workers which has led to the shutdown of courts almost throughout the country, entered its second day on Wednesday.

The umbrella body of the judiciary workers, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), had declared the indefinite strike to press for financial autonomy for the Nigerian judiciary at all levels.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered Wednesday that the leadership of JUSUN is billed to meet to review their stance on the strike at the weekend, by the time which the courts across the country would have been shut for four consecutive days.

This implies that the strike is likely to remain till at least the end of the week, and possibly extend to the second week if the seeming aloofness of critical stakeholders, whose input is crucial to the resolution of the logjam, from the strike, persists.

The last protracted strike JUSUN had over their demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary extended to three weeks in January 2015.

In what appears to be an insight into how bleak the current situation might be, a JUSUN official, Jimoh Musa, told our reporter on Wednesday that stakeholders, such as the governors, the Federal Government, and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had yet to reach out to the union over the matter.

The governors are largely seen as the major opponent of the judiciary’s financial autonomy being demanded by JUSUN.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, at a meeting with a JUSUN delegation led by Mr Jimoh, who is the union’s National Treasurer, appealed that the strike be suspended to afford the government time to start implementing the Executive Order 10 earlier signed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the enforcement of the constitutional provision on judiciary’s financial autonomy.

Mr Muhammad also told JUSUN that he was constrained about talking to the governors over the matter as such could be viewed as asking for a favour that they might in turn want to be repaid for.

‘We haven’t heard from governors, others’

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Mr Jimoh said the CJN was not in a position to grant the union’s demand, but said his plea would still channeled to the NEC of the union which is scheduled to meet at the weekend.

He said, “Up till this moment, we have not heard from neither the Federal Government nor the governors.

“It was only the CJN that invited us appealing to us to suspend the strike. But we met with him based on an urgent call, so we did not form a quorum of the National Executive Committee (NEC).

“Therefore, we that attended told him that we needed to convey his plea to the NEC which holds its meeting by this weekend. We will convey his plea to them, and whatever the decision they take, we will get back to the CJN.

“What we are asking for is not in the hand of the CJN to give. But we will try to channel his to our members.

“We have heard nothing from the Attorney General. We have not heard from the NBA too.”

The strike

JUSUN had called for an indefinite strike which commenced Tuesday to press for financial autonomy for the judiciary at all levels.

The main grouse of the striking workers is against the 36 state governors, and less against the Federal Government which partly complies with the relevant constitutional provision on the issue, by placing the federal judiciary in the first line charge in the national budget.

Under the partial autonomy being enjoyed by the federal judiciary, it still cannot send its budget directly to the National Assembly without being subjected to prior tinkering by the executive.

It is worse off for the state judiciaries which only get funds as it pleases their state governors.

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