Courts To Remain Closed As Judiciary Workers, FG Fail To Reach Agreement

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Courts across the country will remain closed until at least next week after a meeting between judiciary workers and representatives of the Federal Government ended with no concrete solutions.

The meeting was postponed till next week.

The workers have been on strike since April as they insist on financial autonomy for the judiciary.

READ ALSO: Judiciary Workers Resume Partial Work In Lagos

The Federal Government has said the appropriate laws for judiciary autonomy have been signed into law and that implementation lies with state governments.

At Thursday’s meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, reiterated that the Federal Government has no problem with the issue of financial autonomy for the judiciary.

He maintained that it is an issue that concerns states and their finances.

The Minister added that major progress has been made during the series of meetings the government has held since the strike was declared.

Ngige said 90 percent of all requirements have been met and that the remaining 10 percent need to be addressed after the reopening of the courts.

He pleaded with the workers to suspend their strike, so that all the procedures can be operationalised.

He also said that the closure of courts is an impediment for security agencies, who cannot charge suspects of crimes such as kidnapping and banditry to court.

In his remarks, President of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Marwan Adamu, said the meeting wouldn’t have been necessary if the position of the law and constitution had been adhered to.

He said the workers were not attempting to negotiate the constitution but to ensure compliance with its provisions on financial autonomy for the judiciary.

Judiciary Workers Resume Work In Lagos

Alleged Kidnap: Judge’s Absence Stalls Evans Trial
A file photo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja

 

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Lagos State has begun the partial opening of courts by returning to duty three times a week.

In a circular dated April 27 and addressed to its members, JUSUN Chairman in the state, Kehinde Shobowale, directed a partial reopening of the courts.

Following the directive, members were to report to work every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

JUSUN had on April 6 embarked on an indefinite strike demanding that state governments grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.

But Shobowale said that the union took that decision because Lagos State has so far attained 75 per cent financial autonomy.

“It is our desire only to relax strike rules to allow clearance of backlogs, reading of judgement and decongestion of prison occasion by the COVID pandemic and #EndSARS protest,” he said.

“Therefore, work and official duties are constraints to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week, while Monday and Tuesday of every week remain our strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Police Probe Killing Of 19 Herders In Southeast

Meanwhile, the Director of Administration and Human Resources in Lagos State Judiciary, Sanusi Kamal, in a notice on April 28, directed judiciary staff to resume on April 29.

He said, “In view of the communique issued by JUSUN, Lagos State Branch on April 27, I have the directive to inform all members of staff to resume at their various duty post on Thursday (today).

“It should be noted that officers are expected to be in office only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays of every week until further directive from JUSUN.”

But in a swift reaction, the National Working Committee (NWC) of JUSUN has asked the workers to disregard the notice of resumption.

A statement signed by the National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Koin Selepreye said, the strike is still very much on in Lagos and other states until there is a definite conclusion.

Koin further stated that the NWC has taken steps to curb the ugly situation even as no state has the authority to suspend the ongoing strike, Lagos inclusive.

JUSUN Strike: Again, National Body Overrules Lagos Chapter On Partial Reopening

Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) stage a protest in Abuja on April 19, 2021.

 

The national leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has again faulted the partial reopening directive of its Lagos State chapter.

Following an extraordinary meeting of the union on Wednesday in Abuja over the matter, the leaders described the partial reopening directive as unacceptable and one that cannot stand.

JUSUN National Treasurer, Jimoh Musa, told reporters at the end of the meeting that they have resolved to send delegates to Lagos to verify if courts were partially open and if found true, they would be sealed up again.

He stated that the partial reopening of the courts in Lagos was tantamount to a war between the state chapter and JUSUN chapters in the South West.

In a circular signed by JUSUN General Secretary, Isaiah Adetola, the union reminded all branch chairman and executives that the strike was called by the National Executive Council (NEC) of JUSUN, and no branch or chapter has the powers to call a local congress or enter into any agreement with its employers to waive the directive of the national body.

It also declared that no branch or chapter was authorised to open the door of courts in Nigeria, including the Lagos chapter until the points in disputes were resolved.

All judiciary workers in the FCT and all states were asked to stay in their homes until developments were communicated by the NEC.

JUSUN Chairman in Lagos, Shobowale Kehinde, had in a statement dubbed an addendum last week, said the chapter had relaxed its strike rules to allow for clearance of backlogs, reading of judgement and decongestion of prison occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSars protest.

“Work and official duties are constrained to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week, while Monday and Tuesdays of every week remain strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike,” the statement said.

Kehinde explained that the chapter considered the partial opening because the state government had met 70 per cent of their demands and was speedily looking into other demands which results were manifesting.

Despite the decision of the national body overruling the addendum, the Lagos chapter again gave the clear for a partial reopening on Wednesday till Friday.

But the national body, in a swift reaction, overruled the Lagos chapter and declared that the strike would go on in Lagos and all courts until the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary was secured in all 36 states of the Federation.

When Channels Television crew visited the Lagos High Courts, it observed that judiciary workers had partially resumed work in compliance with the directives of the state chapter.

Although the courtrooms at the Ikeja High Court were locked against litigants, the cash office was opened for those who came to depose to affidavits.

The two main gates into the courtroom complex were also locked to prevent vehicular movement into the court, but the smaller gate was open for pedestrians.

A few workers who came to the court, however, left for home when it became clear that the courts were not going to sit as there were no judges on the ground.

However, JUSUN workers at the Federal High Court in Lagos did not join the partial resumption directive and the court remained locked.

This development comes 22 days into the strike called by the JUSUN national secretariat to demand full financial judicial autonomy in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

JUSUN Strike: Lagos Court Remain Shut Despite Partial Reopening Order

Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) embark of the strike in Abuja on April 19, 2021.

 

Despite the partial reopening of operations by the Lagos Chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), a court in the state will remain shut.

This is according to the National body of JUSUN which declared a nationwide strike on April 6 over the refusal of state governors to implement the financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

JUSUN’s counter directive comes hours after the Lagos State Chapter of JUSUN said it had relaxed its strike rules to allow for clearance of backlogs, reading of Judgement and decongestion of prison occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the# EndSARS protest.

READ ALSO: Lawyers March To NASS, As Judiciary Workers Begin Nationwide Protest

Chairman of JUSUN in Lagos, Shobowale Kehinde, said, “Work and official duties are constrained to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of every week, while Monday and Tuesdays of every week remain strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike.”

When Channels Television monitored the Lagos courts to see whether it had opened for partial work, we met the gate of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja firmly shut with members of the Lagos JUSUN monitoring compliance.

A few judiciary workers who had shown up for work said off-camera that they were not allowed into the court premises.

A representative of the Lagos Chapter of JUSUN said that though the chapter was sympathetic to the partial resumption of work, the National body had overruled the decision and directed the Lagos branch to resume full strike.

JUSUN Strike: Adegboruwa Faults Relaxation Of Rules In Lagos

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, has faulted the decision of the Lagos State Chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to relax its strike rules to allow partial work.

Adegboruwa in a statement sent to Channels Television said the situation is ‘totally unacceptable.’

“It is either JUSUN is on strike or it is not,” the SAN said.

He lamented that the Federal Government is in compliance with financial autonomy even more than Lagos State, yet Federal workers are on solidarity strike.

READ ALSO: JUSUN Relaxes Strike Rules In Lagos, To Allow Partial Work

“I ask JUSUN, who is collecting revenue for the courts in Lagos State, is it not Alpha Beta?

“Who buys vehicles for judges and staff, is it not the executive? Why do we deceive ourselves?” he added.

Adegoruwa added that “I am personally concerned that the Lagos State Government is doing so much to abort the strike action, in the same fashion that it succeeded in dividing the NBA into executive sessions in State House Marina, instead of mass action.”

JUSUN Relaxes Strike Rules In Lagos, To Allow Partial Work

File photo of a Federal High Court

 

The Lagos State Chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has decided to resume operations partially.

This according to the association is to allow for clearance of backlogs, reading of Judgement, and decongestion of prison occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protest.

READ ALSO: Insecurity: Reps To Investigate Recurring Jailbreaks

Chairman of JUSUN Lagos, Shobowale Kehinde, who made the announcement in a statement on Thursday said work and official duties are constrained to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week.

He added that Monday and Tuesday of every week remain ‘Strike Days’ and all staff members must stay off duty to observe the strike.

Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, has faulted the decision of the Lagos JUSUN to relax its strike rules to allow partial work.

Adegboruwa in a statement sent to Channels Television said the situation is ‘totally unacceptable.’

 

Find Below, The Full Statement by Lagos JUSUN Chairman…

 

Addendum on Strike Day 16.

To whom much is Given, Much is expected.

We had many interactions on strike situations with fellow State chairmen especially from the southwest, Southeast, and South-South.

Lagos JUSUN finds out that it’s only Lagos State Government that had shown concerns and seriousness with a listening ear to this JUSUN Struggle.

At this moment, Lagos JUSUN has had four meetings with powerful Government officials especially Mr. Governor himself.

From my position and privileges as JUSUN chairman Lagos, We are indeed lucky. Even the National leadership hasn’t made significant progress as Lagos JUSUN does at the moment.

Our axillary demands are been speedily looked into and results are manifesting.

Though there is a national agitation for financial autonomy, this will be achieved nationally and all states will benefit from it.

Our Union had the best assurances directly from Mr. Governor and the Chief Judge of Lagos State on improving welfare allowances for staff which had eluded us since 2014.

While showing commitment today with the delivery of two new buses to Judiciary while House of Assembly had only 1bus given to them even though both arms of Government were currently on strike.

It’s impossible that a state branch will suspend a National Strike hence JUSUN Strike is very much ongoing in Lagos State.

But Due to the great Respect and honour Lagos state judiciary staff have for Mr. Governor and the Chief Judge of Lagos State, it’s our desire only to relaxed strike Rules to allow clearance of backlogs, reading of judgement, and decongestion of prison occasion by the covid pandemic and End Sar protest.

Therefore, work and official duties are constraints to Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of every week, while Monday and Tuesday of every week remain our strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike.

The Union will review the progress both left and right to make informed decisions as the event unfolds.

Please let it be known that the Staff of Lagos State judiciary is still on strike but was magnanimous in putting Lagos Judiciary and the Government of Lagos state first in our time of strength.

All gates of courts in Lagos State will be partially open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Only.

Life itself is all about Give and take.

The Congress says it’s time to give so that it can be given to us all.

 

Aluta continua.

Asiwaju Shobowale Kehinde

Chairman, JUSUN

Lagos.

JUSUN Strike: Lawyers Hold Solidarity Protest Over Judiciary Autonomy

A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria's North-Central region.
A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s north-west region.

 

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Kaduna State have staged a peaceful protest in solidarity with the ongoing nationwide strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Lawyers drawn from various branches of the association in the state came together on Wednesday and marched along the major roads in the state capital, holding placards with various inscriptions in support of the call for financial autonomy for the judiciary across all states.

They later took their protest to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, the Kaduna State seat of power to meet with the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and plead with him to grant full autonomy to the judiciary.

A mild drama played out earlier at the entrance of the Government House when the lawyers engaged the security operatives guarding the gate in an argument.

Thereafter, the legal practitioners presented their protest letter to a representative of the state government for onward transmission to the Governor.

In separate interviews with Channels Television, the chairmen of NBA in Kaduna and Barnawa branches, Samson Audu and Abdullahi Yahaya, described the judiciary as the bastion of democracy.

They urged Governor El-Rufai to also appeal to his colleagues to grant autonomy to the organ of government in their respective states.

The protest by the lawyers in Kaduna, just as similar demonstrations in other states, is to prevail on the 36 state governors to respect the financial autonomy of the judiciary, as enshrined by the Constitution.

Judiciary workers across the country had commenced an indefinite strike on April 6 to demand the implementation of the constitutional provisions granting financial autonomy to the third arm of government.

The industrial action has grounded court activities for two weeks in all parts of the country.

‘Nigerians Have Been Denied Good Governance’, Ubani Backs JUSUN Strike

 

A former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani has backed the strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), saying Nigerians have been denied good governance.

JUSUN had on April 6 declared a nationwide strike to press home its demands, thereby crippling activities in courts and judicial institutions across the country.

Just yesterday, members of the union in collaboration with the NBA also protested against the failure of the governor to allow financial autonomy in states.

But speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Ubani accused Nigerian governors of controlling the judicial and legislative arms of government.

READ ALSO: Lawyers March To NASS, As Judiciary Workers Begin Nationwide Protest

“I see no reason why we have delayed so much but somebody has also pointed out that the governors actually wanted a situation whereby they will be in total control of the other two arms of government and that is why Nigerians have not been getting good governance,” he said.

Former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monda Ubani speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Lagos on April 20, 2021.

 

“Both at the judicial and parliamentary levels, these governors when they come in, want to control the State House of Assembly, determine who becomes the Speaker and fail to give them that particular independence they require in order to checkmate what goes on at the Executive.”

When asked why it is taking so long for governors to grant financial autonomy to judicial workers, the legal practitioner said “they were deriving so much pleasure in the undue control they have exerted over the other two arms of government over time.”

Giving an instance, the senior lawyer said when governors purchase vehicles for judges in their states; they invite the press and create a situation to suggest they are doing the jurists a favour.

While declaring the move as an aberration, Ubani commended JUSUN for embarking on the industrial action, insisting that the strike is long overdue.

Since April 6, courts in Nigeria have been under lock and key because of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

JUSUN had alleged that the Federal and State governments had over the years, declined to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.

The NBA President had earlier on Friday directed its branch chairmen nationwide to lead “visits” to government houses in their states over the 36 governors’ alleged unwillingness to implement judiciary’s financial autonomy.

A statement by the president of the association, Olumide Akpata, directed the branch chairmen to lead the “visits”, which are more like peaceful protests, on Monday, and on all other subsequent Mondays until the demand for the judiciary’s financial autonomy is met.

It urged the branch leaders “to effectively mobilise their members” for the “visit to the governors at the state government houses” to press home the demand.

Wike Threatens To Suspend Implementation Of Financial Autonomy If JUSUN Strike Continues

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has threatened to suspend the implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary if the court workers in the state continue with their strike.

Governor Wike stated this on Monday when he received members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) who converged on the entrance of the Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt to submit a letter as part of the association’s solidarity with the judiciary staff.

The staff, under the aegis of the Judiciary Staff Union Of Nigeria (JUSUN) had on April 6 embarked on an indefinite strike to demand the implementation of the constitutional provisions and court judgement granting financial autonomy to the judiciary at both the federal and state levels.

Wike while addressing them said the association in the state has no justification to join the national strike because his administration has not erred in any way.

The NBA chairman in Port Harcourt, Prince Nyekwere before submitting the protest letter said their protest is to protect Rivers State from retracing from the implementation of the financial autonomy.

Financial Autonomy: Lawyers Visit Lagos Govt House In Support Of JUSUN Strike

Members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) hold a solidarity protest at the Lagos House in Ikeja over the JUSUN nationwide strike.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch has held a solidarity protest with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Led by its Chairman, Bartholomew Aguegbodo, members of the branch on Monday walked from the bar center of the Lagos High Court Ikeja to the Governor’s Office in Alausa.

The gate of the Government House was shut when they arrived but at least three different people came out to meet with the lawyers who insisted on handing over the letter containing their demands to the Governor, his Deputy, or the Head of Service.

The lawyers were later prevailed on to send their representatives to go into the government house to drop the letter.

Four of them including the Chairman went in while other members waited outside.

They were gone for less than 20 minutes and on arrival, the Chairman of the branch said the letter was received by a certain Mr Deji, the officer in charge of mails who would make sure that the Governor receives it. He also said they were fine with the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele has learned that four of the NBA Branches in the state, namely Lagos, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry have agreed to pay a “visit” to the Governors’ office on Tuesday in line with the directive from the NBA President, Olumide Akpata.

READ ALSO: Financial Autonomy: Security Agents Lock NASS Gate, Deny Protesting Lawyers Entry

The branch chairmen were said to have met over the weekend via WhatsApp to agree on modalities for the visit and have resolved to deliver a ‘joint letter’ to press home the demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary

Channels Television confirmed that efforts to make the Ikeja branch join the other branches in the visit tomorrow met a brick wall, as the branch insisted that it had resolved at its last monthly meeting to embark on a “protest march,” today, even before the directive from the NBA President.

The NBA had on Friday night directed its branch chairmen nationwide to mobilise their members and visit their respective state governors to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

In a press statement personally signed by its President, the association said “at the visit, the branches in each state are to present a jointly written demand to the state governors requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the judiciary.”

See Photos Below:

 

Lawyers March To NASS, As Judiciary Workers Begin Nationwide Protest

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association march in solidarity with the protesting JUSUN workers in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Monday marched to the National Assembly in solidarity with judiciary workers who are protesting financial autonomy.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demands has commenced a nationwide strike.

At the nation’s capital, the JUSUN workers converged on the gate of the court of appeal in Abuja chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards.

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association march in solidarity with the protesting JUSUN workers in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Toping the list of demands is the issue of financial autonomy to the judiciary. They are also asking for the payment of peculiar allowances to their members.

JUSUN had since April 6, 2021, left the courts in Nigeria under lock and key because of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

The union had alleged that the Federal and State governments had over the years, declined to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.

JUSUN workers protest at the gate of the court of appeal in Abuja. PHOTO: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

 

The NBA President had earlier on Friday directed its branch chairmen nationwide to lead “visits” to government houses in their states over the 36 governors’ alleged unwillingness to implement judiciary’s financial autonomy.

A statement by the president of the association, Olumide Akpata, directed the branch chairmen to lead the “visits”, which are more like peaceful protests, on Monday, and on all other subsequent Mondays until the demand for the judiciary’s financial autonomy is met.

It urged the branch leaders “to effectively mobilise their members” for the “visit to the governors at the state government houses” to press home the demand.

 

See more photos from the protest below…

 

Judiciary Staff Union Storms Courts In Lagos To Enforce Strike

 

Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) stormed the Federal High Court Lagos shortly before 9 a.m today to enforce their indefinite nationwide strike.

Members of staff of the court who had arrived at their offices, some as early as 7 am were directed to pack up and leave the court premises.

The union members then went round to ensure that everyone had been evicted after which they sealed some of the offices and pasted notices indicating the commencement of strike action.

By a circular dated April 1, the national leadership of JUSUN had ordered the closure of courts across the country as from today, until the government complies with the provisions of the constitution, court judgments, and other instruments which confer or re-emphasise the financial autonomy of the Judiciary.

READ ALSO: ASUP Declares Immediate Strike Over New Salary Scheme

The circular signed by its General Secretary, Comrade Isaiah Adetola, had directed all branch, states and zonal heads of the union to resume the suspended strike and ensure compliance.

The union said that at its last National Executive Meeting on March 13, 2021 in Abuja, it had issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary, “failure of which JUSUN will have no other option but to resume the suspended national strike action.”

“Therefore, as a result of the public holiday on April 5, 2021, the strike action has been postponed to Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in its reaction yesterday says that while the reason for the proposed strike is commendable and aligns with the position of the NBA, the leadership of the NBA is however, concerned about the timing of the proposed strike (especially coming on the heels of the recent shut down of courts on account of Covid-19).

The President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata however says the association has reached out to, and is discussing with JUSUN to reconsider the strike in the public interest.