Law News
Judiciary workers dare Oshiomhole over resumption order

Striking judiciary workers in Edo State on Monday defied a directive by the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, ordering them to call off their over four-month-old strike or face dismissal.

The workers, under the auspices of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, had since January 5, 2015 commenced the strike over the alleged unwillingness of the state government to comply with the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja, upholding the autonomy of the judiciary.

The strike by the workers was also to protest the non-payment of their June 2014 and January 2015 salaries.

However, in a bid to reopen the courts, the Edo State Judicial Service Commission had, in a statement signed by its Secretary, Isaac Sanu, last week Thursday, instructed the workers to return to their duty posts on May 18, threatening to dismiss any of them who failed to comply with the directive.

But the judicial workers, many of whom were seen at the entrance of the state high court on Sapele Road, described the directive as illegal and vowed not to call off the strike until their grievances were addressed.

It was, however, gathered that the main gate to the high court was forced open at about 9am on Monday under the supervision of the Chief Registrar of the court in spite of resistance by the striking workers.

But the Vice Chairman of JUSUN in the state, John Egbomeade, reportedly described the forceful opening of the court as mere intimidation which the workers would not succumb to.

Egbomeade said, “The Chief Registrar of the High Court, H. E. Enemaku, came to break the door and forced the door open; that the workers are willing to come to work. But you can see that even some hours after the door has been broken, no member of staff is prepared to work.

“So, that is to tell you that they are trying to intimidate the workers to come to work. But the workers are saying there is no going back. So, irrespective of any threat, the strike continues. So, the workers are resolute, undaunted; no going back until our demands are met.”

Egbomeade, who described the directive of the JSC as “illegal, null and void,” said the union had already filed a suit numbered NIC/15/2015 before the National Industrial Court, joining the commission as the third respondent.

“So, it is very surprising and very unfortunate that a commission headed by a chief judge, who is a lawyer and a judge, can condescend so low to use our members to break the gate. The workers here are in solidarity with us.

“Our stand is that the strike continues until further directives. As they (JSC) are meeting, we are meeting and we are getting in touch with our national body because it’s not just a state strike,” he added.

But the Secretary of the JSC maintained that the directive of the commission asking the striking workers to resume remained effective.

“The stand of the commission is that all workers of the Edo State judiciary should resume duty today, without which they will know the consequence that follows,” he said.

When our correspondent asked if the workers should consider themselves sacked, having disregarded the directive of the commission, Sanu said, “Leave that for the commission; it is not for me to pronounce that here.”

However, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Emmanuel Ademokun, assured the people that the strike would be called off “sooner or later,” as the union was making efforts to negotiate with the state government.

He said, “We are used to sacking but I believe we will resolve the matter amicably. My concern is to dialogue with the Edo State Government, which I’ll soon do, and I can assure you that sooner or later the workers will resume.”

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