Mrs Ebere Obiora, the Ogun State Coordinator of the African Women Lawyers Association of Nigeria (AWLAN) on Thursday lauded the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) for calling off its strike.
Obiora said that the suspension of the strike by JUSUN, will now pave way for normalcy to return to the Judiciary and for the courts to operate seamlessly.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that JUSUN called off its nationwide industrial action, following a meeting between officials of the union and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.
NAN reports that courts are to re-open on June 14.
Reacting to the news of the strike suspension Obiora lauded the leadership of the union for being resolute in its demands , adding that it was high time the Judiciary stopped being “puppets”
“The JUSUN strike was a welcome idea for the reason that it’s high time the judiciary stopped being a puppet of the executives for apparent manipulations.
“We in AWLAN Ogun state chapter are glad to note that the courts are going to be opened after the long strike.
“Those who were arrested for one crime or another can now be arraigned and prosecuted, those whose rights have been violated can now enforce their fundamental rights, those who have enrolled orders or judgment of courts can now enforce such judgment or orders,”
According to her even some landlords who have been in the shackles of bad tenants during the strike action can now approach the courts for eviction of such bad tenants, while matters which have suffered set backs, can now go on.
She expressed the hope that the demands of the striking judiciary workers would be met to avoid another call to shut down the courts.
In the same vein, a former Vice Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch , Mr Seth Amaefule expressed joy on the news of the resumption on the grounds that it has long been awaited.
“I received with infinite joy and appreciation the long awaited news that the JUSUN has called off the nine weeks old strike action.
“It is a long awaited news for several reasons; the thousands of citizens who are being detained in various places of custody across the nation can now hope to be reunited with their families soon.
“The sources of livelihood of many Nigerians who ply their trade in the vicinity of the many courts across the land and whose lives have been adversely affected can now look forward to rebuilding their battered trade.
“Users of the courts who have pending matters or intended matters, including thousands of business disputes can now begin to pick up the pieces of their matters,” he said
According to him, most importantly, lawyers whose businesses were shut down will begin to dust up their files, books, and apparels to attend to their clients again.
Amaefule commended JUSUN, as well as the leadership of the NBA and all lawyers, for standing firm in the quest for presevation of the constituion.
He specially thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for upholding the Constitution.
“I heartily salute JUSUN for their dogged fight for the compliance of the Executive Arm with the provisions of our Constitution. It was an epic battle.
“The Union must have had a hundred reasons to despair, but they found one reason to remain steadfast and they hung on to it.
I”I salute the leadership of the NBA for resolving to support an identified public interest protest; It proves the Bar to be a beacon of hope and pillar of support for all public interest campaigners.
” I also salute all lawyers who followed the leadership of our Association even when the pains and sacrifice were becoming unbearable.
“May I also salute President Buhari, their Excellencies the Governors of the 36 States of the Federation for seeing reasons to bow to superior argument,” he said.
NAN reports that the union JUSUN had begun a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 6, when the union directed all its members across the federation to shut down all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum earlier given over the failure of the government to implement the law.
NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had in January 2014 held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.
NAN reports that on May 23, President Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.
The order also mandates the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
The Attorney General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.
According to the AGF: “A Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”
NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum said it will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicated that an end to the ongoing strike that has crippled the nation’s judiciary may be in sight.
The governors also called on striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike then.
The Chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with “stakeholders” from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Fayemi said the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, representatives of the judiciary, Conference of Speakers and House of Representatives.
The first line charge status, which is being respected by the Federal Government in respect of the federal judiciary, entitles the state judiciaries to get funds due to them directly from the Federation Account.(NAN)