Strike: JUSUN Shuts Supreme Court, Others

BY Favour Percy-Idubor, Benin With Agency Report
Judiciary employees under the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have closed all the courts in the nation, including the Supreme Court over the federal government’s refusal to implement the judgment of a Federal High Court which stopped the Executive arm of government from holding on to funds meant for the judiciary.
JUSUN said its workers will continue the strike nationwide until the executive arm complies with the ruling.
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), yesterday, said it would only call off its ongoing strike if the government complied with the court judgment granting financial autonomy to states’ judiciary.
Chairman, JUSUN, Lagos State branch, made this known while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.
Abioye told newsmen that he was satisfied with the level of compliance with the indefinite strike which began yesterday.
He said:”The national body of JUSUN has directed us to embark on an indefinite strike.
“They have actually told us that except government complies with the judgment of court, there is no going back.
“They have actually entered into several memorandum of understanding and till now, those were not respected and that is why the strike is on.”
Reports say that JUSUN embarked on the strike following the non-implementation of the January 13, 2014 judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The court had ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation to make deductions of the amount standing to the credit of states’ judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The court directed the AGF to remit it to the National Judicial Council which will then disburse same to the various heads of court.
JUSUN had earlier embarked on a warning strike in July 2014 to press home their demand for financial autonomy of the judiciary.
Correspondents, who monitored developments at the Lagos High Court, Igbosere and Ikeja, as well as some Magistrates’ Courts in the metropolis, report that the gates to the court complexes were locked.
Some lawyers and litigants who were unaware of the strike were denied entry into the High Court premises by security men and some JUSUN officials.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Ikechukwu Anima, said that the judiciary workers were fighting a good cause.
He urged the government to put into effect the financial autonomy of the judiciary and yield to the demand of the judiciary workers.
The lawyer said that the strike would definitely cost him and his clients a lot because he was in court to perfect the bail condition of one of his clients, who was in prison custody.
“I support the financial autonomy of the judiciary for proper checks and balances in the government.
“Government should endeavour to yield to the demand of the judiciary workers, it is the right thing to do,” Anima said.
A woman, who refused to give her name, told newsmen at the Lagos Magistrates’ Court that she was there to stand as a surety for her brother who was in prison custody.
She expressed displeasure at the strike because it would prolong her brother’s stay in prison custody.
Also, Courts in Enugu State yesterday did not sit as a result of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) nationwide strike.
The state’s High Court, the National Industrial Court, the Federal High Court and the Appeal Court, were affected by the industrial action.
The security men on duty at the courts said that the workers were on strike.
Some litigants and lawyers at the court premises expressed dismay at the perennial strikes by the judicial staff.
A civil servant, Mr. John Nwadike, who was in the court to swear an affidavit to enable him to process an important document said he could not get the service due to the industrial action.
He said, “honestly, l am sick and tired of strikes in this country. If it is not lecturers, it will be doctors, JUSUN, other health workers or those in the oil industry.
“It is unfortunate that government is not keeping to its promise to workers and the workers in turn are finding it difficult to make sacrifices for the good of the poor man.’’
Another respondent who preferred anonymity regretted that she could not secure the release of her client due to the strike.
According to her, the situation will prolong the stay of her client behind bars.
It was observed that notice of the industrial action as signed by the National Assistant Secretary of the union was pasted at the gates of all the courts visited.
The union lamented that in spite of Federal High Court Judgment and order which were served on the Federal Accountant General, State Accountant Generals and State Auditor Generals, they all failed to comply.
The document noted that following the intervention of the then Minster of Labour and Productivity on March10 and August 1, 2014, the strike was suspended while the respondents were given 45 days to comply.
It also said that the Accountant General of the Federation on July 17, 2014 wrote to the state governors on the need to implement the courts judgment and order to avert the industrial action. (NAN).

The letter enumerated other efforts by the union to resolve the issues which was to no avail.
The statement added that it was time to free the judiciary from the captivity, strangulation and imprisonment of the state governors.

Meanwhile, Courts across Edo State remained under lock and key as members of the state branch of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, joined their colleagues nationwide to resume the suspended strike protest over autonomy for the Judicial arm of government.
Visit to the High Court of Justice Complex along Sapele Road, Benin City, the state capital, revealed that lawyers who came early to file briefs or affidavits were turned back at the main gate by security men.
Some leaders of the Union in the State who spoke with newsmen confirmed that they were only heeding the orders of their National Executive asking all judicial workers in the country to proceed on an indefinite strike beginning from last Friday, January 2, 2015 until further notice.
The unionists said the action which was embarked upon by all judiciary workers, to compel the Federal Government to usher in an autonomous judicial arm of government would remain indefinite.
A source at the state secretariat of JUSUN, confirmed to reporters that the body had ordered all its members since 2nd January 2015 to proceed on an indefinite strike action, adding that, all court houses in the state would remain shut down indefinitely.
“Today, we in Edo Judiciary have joined our counterparts from all over Nigeria in the nationwide strike action as directed by our national leaders, we passed the directives to all judicial workers in Edo and they have complied, we went round today we are satisfied, with the level of compliance”, he said.
He said the action was necessitated by the failure of the Federal Government to implement a verdict of a Federal High Court, on 13 January 2014, when the court made a pronouncement and interpretation on the true status of an autonomous judiciary.