By Suleiman Shehu
The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that on April 6, JUSUN judicial staff, under the aegis of the Nigerian Judicial Staff Union (JUSUN), launched an indefinite national strike to demand the application of constitutional provisions and court judgments granting financial autonomy. to the judiciary at the national and federal levels.
JUSUN and PASAN made it known during a peaceful demonstration organized jointly Thursday in Ibadan to continue to pressure on their demands and carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Oyo State JUSUN President Kayode Martins said the requested financial autonomy would allow the judiciary to function effectively without any interference from the executive branch.
Martins said autonomy would ensure checks and balances between the arms of government and democracy would have a strong hold in Nigeria.
“What we are asking for does not only affect the judiciary and the legislature, but affects the whole of society.
“If something is wrong, you run to the judiciary being the last hope of the common man.
“If the judiciary does not have autonomy, it will be difficult to change the wrongs of society and to challenge certain policies of the executive,” Martins said.
He called on state governors to respect the constitution and do the right thing by granting autonomy.
In his speech, PASAN President of Oyo State, Mr. Yemi Alade, said the association wanted the agreement reached with the governors to be documented.
Alade said the strike will continue until their demands for financial autonomy are met.
“It is only when these agreements are reached and documented that the strike will continue. What we are fighting for is fundamental and constitutional, ”said Alade.
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ibadan Branch Vice President Delayo Orieku said what the legislature and the judiciary are fighting for is their constitutional rights.
Orieku said the NBA strongly supports them and called on governors to obey the constitution and grant their demands.
NAN reports that a verdict by the Federal High Court in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in January 2014, ruled that the financial autonomy of the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be respected by the executive branch of government.
NAN reports that on May 23, President Muhammadu Buhari issued the decree granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary in the country’s 36 states.
The ordinance also requires the federation’s accountant general to deduct from source the amount owed to state legislatures and magistrates from the monthly allowance to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
Justice Minister Abubakar Malami Decree No. 10 of 2020 made it mandatory that all states in the federation should include allocations from the legislature and the judiciary as the frontline burden of their budgets.
According to the AGF, “a Presidential Implementation Committee has been established to develop strategies and modalities for the implementation of the financial autonomy of the legislature and the judiciary of the State in accordance with Article 121 ( 3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. (as amended). “
NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has said it will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary no later than May, a pledge which indicates that the end of the ongoing strike that has crippled the the country’s legal system may be in sight.
Governors also called on striking JUSUN members to call off their two-week-old strike.
NGF Chairman Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with “stakeholders” from the judiciary and the state legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the implementation modalities were worked out during the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the meeting, chaired by President Buhari’s chief of staff, Ibrahim Gambari, brought together the solicitor general of the Federation, representatives of the judiciary, representatives of the Conference of Presidents and the House of Representatives.
Frontline office status, which is respected by the federal government with respect to the federal judiciary, authorizes state magistrates to obtain funds owed to them directly from the federation account.
Governors rushed to court in 2020 to challenge a decree signed by President Buhari for the application of frontline office status of both the judiciary and the state legislature.
They argued that the decree ordering the accountant general of the federation to deduct funds intended for magistrates and state legislatures from the federation’s account and to pay them to them was “unconstitutional”. (NOPE)
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