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The House of Reps will commit the governors on the autonomy of the judiciary




By EricJames Ochigbo / Femi Ogunshola

The House of Representatives Justice Committee should engage the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and all relevant stakeholders with a view to ensuring the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

The chairman of the committee, Representative Luke Onofiok (PDP-Akwa-Ibom)made this known during a meeting with the Union of Judicial Staff of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Abuja.

The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that JUSUN began an indefinite national strike on Monday April 6 for failure to implement constitutionally enshrined judicial financial autonomy.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed an executive decree granting financial autonomy to the judiciary and the State House of Assembly in May 2020, after several unrest.

However, publication of the order was put on hold after Buhari met with governors, who later expressed concerns about its constitutionality.

Onofiok called on state governors to implement the section of the constitution that requires the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

According to him, if all branches of government function on an equal footing, we will have a better society.

The president described JUSUN’s demands as genuine to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

However, he appealed to the union to resume its work in federal courts, as the federal government responded to their demands.

According to him, it is not good to punish others for the sins of others.

“This will lead to a better working environment for judicial officers and judicial personnel, better well-being of staff and will allow judicial officers to perform their duties without fear or favor.

“To this extent, we stand in solidarity with you on the agitations you are making to ensure you have financial autonomy within the judiciary.

“Our only point of difference is the totality of the industrial action even within the federal court; if the federal government has respected the provisions of the constitution by ensuring that funds intended for the federal judiciary are sent directly to the national judicial council, it is not fair for the staff of the federal judiciary to continue the strike .

“I know and I am sure that it is solidarity forever, but let us limit the strike to those who did not respect this issue of financial autonomy,” he said.

Previously, JUSUN’s national vice president, Mr. Emmenuel Abioye, said the ongoing strike could have been avoided if the rule of law was respected.

Abioye said that Articles 122 (3), 82 (3), 262 (9) of the 1999 Constitution clearly speak of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

He said the problem had been ongoing since 1999 and that there was a court ruling in favor of the union’s position that had not been implemented in the past seven years.

“If the judiciary, the last hope of the common man, is not independent, how will the people obtain justice?

“Rather than calling on the union to end the strike, people should call on those who do not want to apply the law, we cannot continue to suffer and smile,” he said.

JUSUN Deputy National Secretary Mr. Saidu Adamu said it is unfortunate that when the poor break the law, he is forced to dance on the tune, but the rich and powerful get away with it.

“When I heard that the House was inviting us, I thought it was going to tell us what it was going to do to make governors obey the law.

“If the National Assembly cannot make the governors obey the law, they should let us do what we can, we are fighting for the common man.

“Give us your support to make sure the laws you made are enforced; I think the Constitution should be amended to allow the National Assembly to sanction misguided governors, ”he said.


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