Home Breaking News NJC panel to monitor governors’ compliance with judicial autonomy

NJC panel to monitor governors’ compliance with judicial autonomy

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By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have resolved to end the strike they began over two months ago.

Their leaders rose on Wednesday from a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting and issued a communique to suspend the strike. They were not specific on the date, but a senior JUSUN official said suspension becomes effective from today.

The official said JUSUN immediately directed its members to allow entry into all court premises nationwide forthwith.

At a meeting with JUSUN leaders on Tuesday, the National Judicial Council (NJC) urged the striking court workers to end to the industrial action in the interest of the country and the suffering court users.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Ibrahim Muhammad was in attendance.

In the communique, JUSUN’s NEC said it resolved to suspend the strike after considering some issues, including the NJC and other stakeholders’ intervention.

The communique reads: “NEC-in-session discussed extensively, and after putting so many issues into consideration, i.e. the intervention of NJC and other stakeholders, the NEC has resolved that the strike is hereby suspended.

“NEC-in-session plead with the NJC, the Presidential Implementation Committee, Attorney General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation and all stakeholders to see that the issue of Judiciary financial. autonomy is laid to rest finally as provided for in sections 81(3), 121(3) and. 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

The union condemned the seizure of judiciary salaries by the governors of Kaduna, Plateau and Benue states. It also frowned at the decision by the Bayelsa State governor to deduct the salary of court workers.

It said: “NEC-in-session frowns at the deduction of salary of JUSUN members of Bayelsa State and request that the deducted sum be restored forthwith.

“NEC-in-session condemns the actions of the governors of Kaduna, Plateau and Benue states for withholding. salaries of the Judiciary in their states.”

JUSUN commended the CJN and all heads of courts “for their patience and understanding throughout the period the industrial action.”

It also commended the “effort of the NJC in making sure that the governors obey the memorandum of action (MoA), judgments and agreement on the financial autonomy of the judiciary.”

The JUSUN NEC reiterated its position that none of its  members should be victimised on the basis of strike action.

The communique was jointly signed by JUSUN’s Deputy President Emmanuel Abioye and General Secretary I. M. Adetola.

The NJC has raised a five-man committee to monitor the implementation of the MoA signed between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and JUSUN on financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

NJC took the step after its meeting with union leaders some other stakeholders on Tuesday, during which it demand an end to the over two-month strike by court workers in view of its impact on the nation’s court system and appeals from other stakeholders.

In a statement issued yesterday, Council’s spokesman Soji Oye said the NJC, led by its Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, at the Tuesday’s meeting,  prevailed on the striking court workers to put an end to the industrial action.

The statement reads: “Sequel to the prolonged strike of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and its effect on the Judiciary and the nation at large, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council, Honourable Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR convened an emergency meeting of council on Tuesday 8 June 2021 with the chief judges of states, the JUSUN Executive members as well as Senator Ita Enang, the Senior Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of the Implementation Committee with a view to finding a lasting solution to the lingering strike.

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and other stakeholders during the interface lamented that the strike had affected the Judiciary in particular and the nation at large and therefore sought for a way to resolve the lingering issue.

“Emmanuel Abiri, Deputy President of JUSUN who briefed the Council on behalf of the executive members of the association, during the stakeholders meeting, explained that the grouse of the union was that despite the constitutional provision of sections 81 (3), 121 (3), 162 (9) and the judgement delivered since 2015 in favour of JUSUN, the Executive Order 10 of 2020 and the agreement reached between the union, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the governors have refused to yield financial autonomy to the State Judiciary.

“He added that the Union’s other grievances include; non-payment of peculiar allowance for Judiciary Staff; attempt by the Kaduna State Governor to place the State Judiciary under its Civil Service and scheming for a State Judicial Council.

“He posited that the NGF was merely playing politics with the Constitution and had also failed to remit the one-month payment agreed on at the end of May as a demonstration of their good faith.

“Mr Abiri opined that if the Forum could renege in fulfilling its promise at the end of the month of May, there was no guarantee that it would not in June.

“He therefore requested that the Accountant-General of the Federation be directed to deduct from source the amount meant for the Judiciary before the Union could call off the strike.

“Council therefore, yielded the floor to Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, the Secretary of the Presidential Implementation Committee and a conciliator to the trade union, who pleaded with the council to intervene by appealing to JUSUN to suspend the strike even if not calling it off, to enable the various governors implement the agreement.

“He promised that Executive Order 10 would be enforced on any Governor who failed to implement.

“At the end of deliberations, council advised JUSUN to consider suspending the strike in the interest of administration of justice and national interest.

“Thereafter, the JUSUN Executive requested for a 10-minute break to enable them to consult with their members, a request which the council gladly obliged.

“The Executive members of JUSUN returned to inform the council that they have agreed with the advice of council, adding that National Executive Council (NEC) of JUSUN will meet on Wednesday 9 June 2021 to suspend the strike.

“The council thereafter set up a five-man committee in order to monitor the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and JUSUN.”



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