From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As industrial action embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) over financial autonomy at the states level lingers, the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) on Wednesday described JUSUN’s demand as constitutional and not negotiable.
JUSUN on April 6 began a nationwide industrial action to press home its demand that the judiciary arm of government both at the federal and state levels be allowed to enjoy its constitutional right of financial autonomy as provided in Section 81(3) and Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
CLASFON in a statement by Arome Okwori and Tunji Omole – National President and National Secretary respectively bemoaned the affected governors for denying JUSUN the same opportunity they and the state legislative arms enjoy.
To this group, apart from the constitutional provisions concerning the financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary, there was a subsisting court order validating the reason for the ongoing industrial action embarked on by JUSUN ‘way back in the case of JUSUN v. AG Federation & Ors (Unreported) Suit No. FHC/ABJ/667/13. This court order has now subsisted for nearly 7 years without any challenge.
‘It is sad to note that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which the Governors swore to uphold at their inauguration as Governors of their states is the same Constitution, they are depreciating by refusing to allow the judiciary enjoy its financial autonomy.
‘On the issue of financial autonomy of the judiciary, let it be known to the political actors of the Nigerian State that CLASFON’s position is that the financial autonomy of the Nigerian Judiciary is not negotiable,’ they said.
Itemising the dangers associated with the continuous strike by JUSUN, CLASFON believed that it threatens the stability of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria, threatens nationwide security of lives and properties as citizens have nowhere to vent their grievances thus encouraging citizens to take the laws into their hands.
‘It threatens the much needed economic activities and viabilities of the federating states in Nigeria and discourages foreign investors from investing in Nigeria as their investments are not protected from the vagaries and preferences of politicians.
‘It encourages the bastardization of fundamental human rights of people under the custody of various law enforcement agencies and as well encourages the bastardization of fundamental human rights of a large number of persons awaiting trial in various correctional facilities.
‘It undermines the security architecture and mechanism of justice in Nigeria as facilities housing suspects under criminal investigation are currently overcrowded thus making room for jailbreaks,’ the group warned.
They, however, reminded the governors of the affected states that the financial autonomy of the judiciaries in their various states would ensure peace and prosperity especially in this unsavoury era of insecurity and economic instability that has befallen our dear country.