Courts nationwide remain shut as judiciary workers begin strike over autonomy

Courts across the country on Tuesday were shut while judicial activities were paralysed following the strike by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Federal and state high courts, Courts of Appeal and Supreme Courts in the land were not allowed to operate as JUSUN members vowed to sustain the industrial action until governments act on their demands.

Among others, the judiciary workers were protesting against the refusal by the state government to implement the Executive Order 10 on financial autonomy.

The Executive Order 10 which granted financial autonomy to the legislature and judiciary across the 36 states of the country was signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari in May 2018.

JUSUN President in auto crash, CJN meets exco

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Monday had a meeting with some JUSUN officials on ways to end the strike.

However, its President, Marwan Adamu, was not part of the meeting following his involvement in auto crash.

He reortedly had the crash while travelling from Kano State to attend the meeting in Abuja.

The delegation of JUSUN to the meeting was led by its National Treasurer, Jimoh Musa.

A statement by the spokesperson of the CJN, Ahurkah Isah, quoted Justice Muhammad as saying, “The unintended sufferers of this strike are better imagined than seen. It has spiral effects, including our children.

“Ordinarily, I would say let me talk to individual 36 state governors, which amount to asking for their favours. But, some of them would ask me to do 10 favours in return. This is why, as a judge, I am prohibited from asking for favour.”

Isah stated that Musa promised the CJN that his suggestions would be tabled before the 19-member National Executive Council of JUSUN before a decision was taken.

Meanwhile, in Abuja, some court officials, who reported for work, were stopped from gaining entrance to their offices by officials of JUSUN, who manned the gates.

In Lagos, the union members stormed the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos around 9am and sealed some of the offices and pasted notices indicating the commencement of the strike.

It was gathered that the union had around 7.45am, stormed the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja and locked the gate, preventing the judges and their secretaries from entering into the court premises.

The Chairman of Plateau State chapter of JUSUN, Philip Lonji, said, “This action is in line with the NEC meeting of the union held on the 13th of March, 2021.

“We are talking of justice, we are not talking of politics; justice cannot go together with politics. We want government to implement the Executive order 10.”

Similarly, court workers in Katsina on Tuesday shunned courts in the state to press home demands for financial autonomy for the judiciary.

Lawyers and various litigants had to turn back from the courts as their main gates remained shut.

The Katsina State Secretary of JUSUN, Mallam Abubakar Isiyaku, said the strike would not be called off until the judiciary gets its financial autonomy.

In Cross River State activities were paralysed as gates of many courts were locked while few workers on the premises could not gain access to their offices.

Also, the Sokoto State branch of JUSUN joined its counterpart on Tuesday to embark on the indefinite strike.

The Vice Chairman of JUSUN, North West Zone, who also doubleds as the Sokoto State chairman AbdulNasir Muhammad, said, “The strike will continue until States governments comply with the court order of January 13, 2014 and the Executive Order 10 of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

In Kano State, JUSUN members on Tuesday shut all court premises.

The state Chairman, Mukthar Rabiu, stated that they will not resume work until the Federal Government complies to their demands, top of which was judicial autonomy.

It was also the same scenarios in Ekiti, Rivers and Kwara states .

However, the Ebonyi State judiciary workers did not observe the strike.

It was gathered that the factionalisation of the union in the state might have led to the boycott of the strike.

A source said, “The government formed a parallel leadership and refuses to recognise the other group.

“The national leadership failed to support us when we had problem with the state government, so now many workers were not keen to join the strike.” – Punch.

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