The House of Representatives’ Committee on Judiciary on Wednesday failed to persuade the national leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, which has been on industrial action since April 6, 2021 over autonomy for the judiciary, to suspend strike.
JUSUN admitted that the Federal Government had complied with the Executive Order 10 signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), which declared financial autonomy for the judiciary, as well as a court judgment secured by the union.
The union, however, added that none of the 36 states of the federation had allowed the judiciary at the state level to be autonomous.
While the committee pleaded with JUSUN to suspend strike at the federal level as well as states that have allowed judicial autonomy, the judicial workers insisted that the nationwide strike would remain as labour unions work in solidarity.
The committee, therefore, resolved to escalate the matter to the leadership of the House, who are expected to liaise with their Senate counterparts, with the hope that the National Assembly will meet with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to resolve the issue.
Chairman of the committee, Onofiok Luke, in his ruling after a meeting that lasted about one hour, noted that the lawmakers “share in the sentiments as expressed by JUSUN.”
He said, “Our only point of divergence here is the totality of the industrial action even within the federal courts because if the Federal Government has abided by the constitution in making sure that money meant for federal judiciary – statutory transfer – is sent straight to the National Judicial Council for the benefits of courts and other judicial bodies under the Federal Government, it not fair for staff of the judiciary at the federal level to embark on this industrial action.
Luke added, “We want to appeal to (Nigeria) Governors’ Forum to engage with JUSUN and make sure that the constitution is complied with; to make sure that we have financial autonomy not only for the state legislatures but equally for the judiciary at the state level.”
Earlier, the Deputy National President of JUSUN, Emmanuel Abioye, said, “Our agitation is not only for us alone, it is for things to be done properly as they are supposed to be.”
A member of the committee, Kunle Olanrewaju, noted that the governors had accepted the court judgment but they had disagreed with Buhari’s Executive Order 10 as it was in conflict with the federal structure.
Olanrewaju partly said, “I heard that the governors want to meet with JUSUN to be able discuss this issue of allocation committees in the states.”