Some of the striking workers manning a locked court gate

Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, Dr. Olisa Agabakoba SAN has written the Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF, the umbrella body for the 36 states of the federation, saying that the strike embarked upon by theJudiciary Staff Union of Nigeria JUSUN, is avoidable.

Recall that the union had on April 6 embarked on a nationwide strike to protest the non-implementation of the financial autonomy policy of the nation’s judiciary, which has crippled the country’s judicial system, as it enters the seventh day.

In a letter dated April 11, 2021 and addressed to the chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the Senior Advocate blamed the strike on the refusal of governors to obey court judgments and observe the principles of rule of law, insisting that the strike is avoidable.

According to him, there have been several court judgments, which established the fact that state judiciary have the right to have financial autonomy, which has also been affirmed by President Muhammadu Buhari, regretting that the strike arose because governors refused to obey court judgments on the subject matter.

He cited three earlier judgments of superior courts, which upheld the fact that state judiciaries have the right to operate under financial autonomy as enshrined in the constitution, which is the grand norm of the land.

The cases include: Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria vs National Judiciary Council & Governors of the 36 states in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13, Olisa Agbakoba vs FG, the NJC & National Assembly suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013 and Olisa Agbakoba vs AG, Ekiti State & 2 others suit No. NAD/56/2013.

The letter reads in part: “I am saddened by the avoidable strike action by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria JUSUN because of the stress it has caused the judicial system.  A simple way out is for state governors to observe the rule of law and obey Judgments of the court.  Sections 81 (3) and 121 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria, grants financial autonomy to Federal and State Judiciaries.  This has been confirmed by courts in several cases.

“President Buhari has affirmed the decisions of the courts by issuing Executive Order 10 of 2020, in exercise of his powers under section 5 of the Constitution to ensure execution and maintenance of the constitution which includes enforcement of decisions of the court. “State Governors should please enforce the decisions of the court and save the country this chaos. JUSUN is absolutely correct to pursue a policy of financial Independence of the courts guaranteed by the Constitution and affirmed by three decisions of superior courts of Nigeria”.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government had on Monday appealed to the workers to suspend the nationwide industrial action, which had paralysed activities in courts across the country, especially Federal High Court, Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and others.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made the appeal at a reconciliatory meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of the union in Abuja.

Ngige argued that like doctors and nurses, the striking judicial workers were on essential duties and should not go on strike.

But President of JUSUN, Marwan Adamu, who insists that the strike must go on until all the issues were resolved, said that the union was guided by the constitution of the country in its action, stressing that democracy had to thrive on the Rule of Law.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a federation and is guided by a constitution. However, we observed that the particular provision of the constitution that grants financial autonomy to the judiciary has never been obeyed as much as it should be, particularly section 21(3) and section 81(3),” he said.

According to him, having agitated for so long for the government to do the right thing, which has not been done, we went to court and got a judgment before 2014.

“We are patient. We are not lawless people because we work in a sector where the Rule of Law guides our operations”, he also said.