Law News
Judicial workers’ strike paralyses courts in Lagos, Edo

MEMBERS of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria on Monday commenced an indefinite nationwide strike in compliance with the directive of the union’s national executive committee.

The strike, the union said, was to protest the non-compliance of state governments with the court order on financial autonomy for the judiciary.

The court order was granted by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on January 13, 2014.

Our correspondent, who visited the Ikeja Lagos State High Court on Monday reports that both the entrance and exit gates to the premises were shut.

Members of the JUSUN were also positioned at the gates, on which the inscription “Court is on strike” was boldly pasted.

All visitors, including litigants and lawyers, were denied access to the premises.

Speaking on the development, the Chairman, Lagos State branch of JUSUN, Mr. Emmanuel Abioye, said the union was determined to keep the courts closed until its demands were met.

Abioye said, “People should just stay away. They shouldn’t come to work because that was the instruction given to us by the national executive committee of this great union.

“I think by now it is already in the public domain what our struggle is all about, which is financial autonomy for the judiciary in Nigeria. And it is for the overall benefit of the nation, in defence of our Constitution that grants financial autonomy to the judiciary.”

The same scenario obtained at the Lagos Island Division of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere.

The gates were shut against all court users, who were turned away by JUSUN members manning the gates.

An executive member of the Lagos branch of JUSUN, Mr. Adelenu Tajudeen, vowed that the gates would remain shut for as long as the government neglected the judgement of the court on judicial autonomy.

A visit to the Ikeja magistrates’ court revealed that though the main gates were not shut, court activities were also paralysed. Lawyers and litigants, whose mission to the court had been aborted, were seen loitering under trees and on the corridors.

One of the lawyers, Mr. Idahosa Idahosa, who was in court to secure bail for his client currently remanded in Kirikiri prison, said the strike had brought about a violation of people’s right.

Idahosa, however, said the strike was worth it if it was the price to be paid for the independence of the judiciary.

Idahosa said, “Although, the rights of individuals have been infringed upon, however, the strike is a welcome development and I say good morning to the judiciary.

“In order to guarantee the freedom of the people, there is need for the judiciary to be independent. So if the current strike is a price we must pay to be independent, so be it.”

Also in Edo State, judicial services in various courts were on Monday brought to a standstill as judicial workers joined their counterparts in the nationwide strike embarked upon by the union.

All the courts visited by our Edo State correspondent were locked up with some members of the union at the entrance of the courts to prevent non-members from gaining access to the premises.

At the State High Court complex in Benin, both lawyers and litigants were left stranded.

“I came to the court to swear and affidavit like many others but I was told by a man at the gate that judicial workers are on strike,” a man who identified himself as Nosa Omorodion said.

The chairman of JUSUN in the state, Mr. Uyi Ogieriakhi, said the strike was unavoidable as the judiciary was not an appendage to any other arm of government in the country.

He said,   “We expect governments ordinarily to obey court orders, especially when it has to do with a Constitutional matter. The constitution is very clear on the autonomy of the judiciary. There is no governor who does not know separation of powers.

“We are saying that the judiciary is not an appendage to any other arm of government but a system that should operate independently. And for convenience, we went to court with that declaration of the Constitution and the court gave judgement to us that monies due to the judiciary from the consolidated revenue fund of the federation and the state should be forwarded to the National Judicial Commission for onward disbursement to the heads of courts.

“It also said that the piecemeal payment through the ministry of financeý to the heads of court should stop forthwith.

“If the judiciary can start begging to execute a court order, I begin to imagine where the fate of the common lies.”

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