|Information Minister, Lai Mohammed|
The house of representatives committee on judiciary has asked the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to exempt federal workers from the nationwide industrial action it started on April 6.
The union is protesting the government’s failure to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary to ensure its financial independence from the executive.
President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the executive order granting financial autonomy to the judiciary and state houses of assembly in May 2020, after several agitations.
The gazetting of the order was, however, suspended after the president met with governors who expressed concern over its constitutionality.
Speaking at the meeting held with the leadership of JUSUN on Wednesday, Onofiok Luke, chairman of the house of representatives committee, noted that financial autonomy will guarantee independence of the judiciary.
He, however, said it was unfair to involve staff of federal courts in the strike since the federal government had kept its word on granting judiciary workers financial autonomy.
“One clear ingredient of what makes for the independence of the judiciary is the financial autonomy, which will lead to a good working environment for the judicial officers and staff of the judiciary,” he said.
“It would lead to better welfare, and then it would lead to our judicial officers discharging their responsibilities without any fear or favour.
“We understand this as a legislature. To that extent, we are in solidarity with you on that issue that you are making to ensure that you have financial autonomy that would lead to the independence of the judiciary.
“Just like it has been expressed by other of our colleagues, our only point of divergence here is the totality of industrial action even within the federal courts, because if the federal government has abided by the provisions of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria in making sure that money meant for federal judiciary — that is under statutory transfer — is sent straight to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for the benefit of courts and other judicial bodies under the federal government, it is not fair for the staff of the judiciary at the federal level to embark on this industrial action.
“So, I understand your agitation but please let us narrow our agitation to those who have not complied with this issue of financial autonomy, which is the state.”
Onofiok said the house will engage the governors to ensure that they implement financial autonomy for state judiciary workers.
In his remarks, Emmanuel Abioye, deputy national president of JUSUN, said non-compliance with court judgement over seven years ago regarding the financial autonomy triggered the strike.
He, however, said the union would discuss the requests of the house at its national executive committee to decide further action on the strike.
In this article: