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Strike: Senior lawyers back JUSUN’s agitation for judiciary autonomy




By Taiye Agbaje

Two senior lawyers on Monday expressed their support and solidarity for the industrial action launched by the Union of Judicial Personnel of Nigeria (JUSUN).

The (NAN) reports that JUSUN began a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 6, when the union ordered all its members of the federation to close all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum given earlier on the government failure to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

A senior lawyer from Nigeria, SAN, Paul Erokoro, told NAN in Abuja.
“Absolutely, I support JUSUN’s agitation on judicial autonomy.

“The 1999 Constitution doesn’t work because the governors are just too powerful. Governors control everything in their states.

“There are no checks and balances. Whoever controls the money that comes in can dictate all actions in those states, ”he said.
He said justice should not be seen as another department of state government.

“It is an independent branch of government, just like the State House of Assembly,” he said.
The lawyer noted that at present, there was no state house of assembly that could disagree with its governor.

“And governors tend to think of judges as their staff. If judges don’t dance to their tune, they starve the judiciary for funding. So we have to put an end to this.

“It is possible that an amendment to the constitution is necessary. I know that the President tried to solve the problem by decree; if this is constitutionally valid, it needs to be explored.

“Whenever houses are built for judges, governors boast as if they have done justice. We really need to change that, ”he stressed.
On why the law has become difficult to enforce despite President Muhammadu Buhari‘s Decree 10, the lead lawyer said:

“Governors are very powerful people as I told you. They can frustrate everything. “
He attributed the development to the weakness of the 1999 constitution which, he said, placed all executive powers in governors.

He said: “If you compare that with the Constitution of 1963 where the provincial commissioners were the equivalent of the governors of today, it shared executive powers with the district officers or ‘Dos’ as they were called. The backs were very powerful people.

“So in the context of the current arrangement in the state, each governor would have shared executive powers with, perhaps, eight other deputy governors, so that no one would have been as powerful as the governors. . “

Erokoro, who called on relevant government agencies and departments to intervene in the case, also urged all parties to engage in dialogue to end the strike.

For his part, Ahmed Raji, SAN, who said he supported resolving the crisis, urged federal and state governments to engage with the union.

“I will implore them to embrace dialogue for the benefit of society so that we do not give the wrong signals to the international community because the Court is a very important segment of social institutions that we cannot afford to shut down.” .

“I will litigate with them both, without attributing blame to anyone. However, that does not mean that the demands or agitations of the union should not be examined, ”he said.

The NAN also reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had, on May 22, 2020, promulgated a decree granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary in the 36 states of the federation.

Executive Decree No.10 of 2020 made it compulsory for all states to include allocations from the legislature and the judiciary in the frontline burden of their budgets.

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. (NOPE)


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