JUSUN strike suspension: Litigants ‘besiege’ courts for adjourned dates

By Ibrahim Abdulazeez

Some litigants on Thursday besieged some courts in Iseyin, Oyo, seeking adjourned dates for their cases, after the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) suspended its 64 days strike.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the strike, the longest industrial action in the Nigerian judiciary was suspended on Wednesday, following a meeting between officials of the union and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.

NAN reports that courts are to re-open on June 14.

NAN correspondents, who monitored the development at various courts in Iseyin, report that some litigants were seeing roaming the courts premises to seek new dates for their respective cases.

A litigant, at the Customary Court, Mrs Idowu Aisha, who spoke with NAN , said’:”I have been worried about when the strike will be called off because I am serious emotional distress.

”I can’t wait to be separated from my husband. Enough is enough,” she said.

Another litigant, Mr Ademola Isalu, said his matter was supposed to come up in April but was not heard because of the strike.

”I came to the Magistrates’ Court to seek another date for my case . I have been here since 9 a. m. but I still can’t see any court staff here, may be they are not aware of the strike suspension yet.

“I will wait till they come because I suffered enough during the strike,” he said .

Mrs Janet Akanmu, a litigant at the Grade ‘C’ Customary Court, said she was extremely happy with the strike suspension.

” I heard about the suspension last night and I am so happy about it. I’m here this morning to get a new date.

“I have seen few staff members around the court premises but they are yet to attend to us to get new dates for our cases ,” he said .

NAN reports that the union JUSUN had begun a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 6, when the union directed all its members across the federation to shut down all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum earlier given over the failure of the government to implement the law.

NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had in January 2014 held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.

NAN reports that on May 23, President Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.

The order also mandates the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

The Attorney General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.

According to the AGF: “A Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”

NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum said it will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicated that an end to the ongoing strike that has crippled the nation’s judiciary may be in sight.

The governors also called on striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike then.

The Chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with “stakeholders” from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Fayemi said the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.

According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, representatives of the judiciary, Conference of Speakers and House of Representatives.

The first line charge status, which is being respected by the Federal Government in respect of the federal judiciary, entitles the state judiciaries to get funds due to them directly from the Federation Account. (NAN)