By Alex Enumah
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, yesterday commended workers in the judiciary sector for keeping the wheel of justice rolling during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Muhammad made the commendation while giving a goodwill message at a lecture marking the 2020/2l legal year of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
While describing the topic for the lecture titled: ‘Dignity of labour and labour justice’, as apt, considering the present circumstances, he noted that the justice sector has enhanced access to justice despite the enormous risk posed by COVID-l9.
According to him, “Let me use this opportunity to commend everyone in the justice sector for acting promptly to ensure that access to justice and justice delivery were not hindered despite the enormous risk posed by the pandemic.
“In the same vein, I thank the NJC Committee on COVID-l9 and everyone in the justice sector for their tireless efforts to make our courts and access to justice possible.”
The CJN, who was represented by Justice Musa Abba-Aji, enjoined all stakeholders to join hands in the quest to do justice to all people without fear or favour.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, President of NICN, Justice Bakwaph Kanyip, described the twin concepts of dignity of labour and labour justice, in terms of the right to work as not just about the right to be employed, but to be given work when one is employed.
According to Kanyip, the role of the court, especially as a specialised court, was not solely the enforcement of mere contractual rights, but includes the prevention of unfair labour practices.
On his part, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, however, berated judges of the NICN for issuing orders to stop workers’ protest, noting that in order climes, judges support workers’ protest.
He urged the judges to see workers’ protest as a fight for the betterment of the society, adding that workers have rights to protest, and such rights must be protected by the court and not stopped.
Wabba described labour as the creator of wealth which must be respected in line with the Philadelphia Charter of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).