The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has told governors that the independence of the judiciary is not negotiable.
Bamidele stated this while answering questions from reporters after a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms.
The hearing was on the bill Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill 2021.
He said the National Assembly has made the law that would guarantee full autonomy of the judiciary at the federal level, calling on state Houses of Assembly to pass a similar law.
JUSUN has left the courts across the country under lock and key since April 6, 2021, in protest of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.
Bamidele said, “It is laughable that that at this point, we are still grappling with the need to grant independence to the judiciary arm of government at the state level and local governments levels. The National Assembly has been making laws that would guarantee full autonomy to the judiciary at the Federal level.
“The National Assembly does not make laws for the states, such power resides in the state Houses of Assembly. Judiciary at the Federal Capital Territory is independent because we have done what we are supposed to do. What is next is for the state Houses of Assembly to do what they are supposed to do.
“As a principle, as a policy, members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, have tried not to call on those who are protesting to stop such protests. We do not want protests but definitely, we would rather talk more to state governors, houses of Assembly and other stakeholders to do the needful in the overriding public interest.
“We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice. We are talking about judicial reform, we are talking about the need for justice sector reforms. This is central and crucial to the independence of the judiciary in this country.
“We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilized world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting independence to judiciary at the state level since it has been done at the national level. The fact that workers and staff of federal judiciary are joining the protest is only in solidarity with their colleagues at the state levels. It is a union matter and we do not have a control over it.
“We are hereby calling on the state governors to do the needful because the independence of the judiciary is non- negotiable. No democracy can survive without being founded on the rule of law and independent judiciary.”