The nationwide strike action embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) on Tuesday morning paralyzed court activities in Lagos, Kano and Plateau states.
JUSUN is embarking on nationwide strike action over the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.
Courts premises remain shut down at all the Court premises visited in Lagos this morning by Daily Trust correspondent.
Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of JUSUN, Mr Kehinde Shobowale Rahamon, said that “Order 10 which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari was to put that section of the constitution in motion, but implementation has not been done, hence, the Judiciary still go “cap in hand” to the executive for funds to run the courts and that has led to the Judiciary being in bondage.
“If you look at the Constitution very well, we are public officers, not civil servants. So, the Constitution takes very good care of us but the executive won’t want the Judiciary to go just like the Israelites.
“This time around, it is either they allow us to go or we remain closed indefinitely,” he said.
Bayo Akinlade, a Lagos-based Lawyer during a chat with our correspondent said: “I Stand with JUSUN in their quest for the Independence of the Judiciary”
“The bottom line is that the Judiciary, NBA and JUSUN must work together to deal with the intrusion into the Judiciary.
“The independence of the Judiciary is non-negotiable and I support JUSUN in their position and it is my strong opinion that each NBA Branch must step up their advocacy in ensuring that the Judiciary gain its independence”, Bayo Akinlade said.
Another lawyer, Douglas Ogbankwa, of Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary, said that the earlier we told ourselves the bitter truth as Lawyers as it concerns the Independence of the Judiciary, the better for us.
“The Nigerian Bar Association at the National and Local levels should not act like everything is ok with the Nigerian Judiciary.
“Our body language encourages the impunity of the Executive in not obeying Section 121 (3) of the Constitution in ensuring that all monies standing to the credit of the Judiciary be paid directly to the Heads of Court’, he said.
Strike cripples court proceedings in Kano
The industrial action by the JUSUN has crippled court proceedings in Kano state, leaving lawyers and their clients bewildered.
When our reporter visited the court premises in the Audu Bako Secretariat on Tuesday, it was found under locks with JUSUN members enforcing compliance with the strike action they said started at 12 midnight.
Speaking to Daily Trust at the court premises, the Secretary to the state chapter of JUSUN, Comrade Sulaiman Aliyu, said they have been instructed by their national body to comply and lock all the courts in the state.
He said the strike is to demand their autonomy which was confirmed by the court in 2013 but the governors are yet to comply with the order.
“The strike is necessary because for many years now they haven’t complied with this order. Even recently, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed it into an order via executive order 10 to start giving us our money but they refused,” he said.
It was gathered that most Nigerians were not aware of the strike until when they visited the courts for various purposes including court proceedings and affidavit and found it locked.
Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammad was in the court for the hearing of a case affecting his daughter and he said it came to him as a surprise that the court is on strike.
He said for almost one month now he has been waiting for the hearing of his case and the strike came as a major interruption.
“I wasn’t aware of the strike and rushed to the court because our case was rescheduled to today for hearing.
“When I came in I met my lawyer and he told me JUSUN has commenced strike,” he said.
He urged the union and the government to settle their differences as the court remain the single place to get some form of justice.
Meanwhile, business activities around the court have also suffered a huge blow due to the strike, as people were asked to leave the premises by the JUSUN members.
Union shuts down courts in Plateau
Also in Plateau State, judiciary workers shut down courtrooms and other judicial offices in compliance with the directives of the leadership of the JUSUN.
Members of the union, who came out in their numbers, barricaded the entrance of the various courts in the state capital, saying financial autonomy for the judiciary must be implemented.
Philip Mandel Longji, JUSUN’s state chairman, while addressing members of the union at the entrance of the State High Court, said the decision to embark on the strike followed the refusal to implement the judicial financial autonomy signed by President Buhari.
He said: “Today, we embarked on the nationwide indefinite strike.
“The strike is in respect of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.
“We have gone round to various courts within the city to ensure that there is total compliance.
“We have desk officers who are monitoring compliance outside the city,” he added.
The chairman lamented that the Judiciary had never been treated as an arm of government.