Financial Autonomy: JUSUN’s Strike Grounds Courts’ Activities

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By Alex Enumah

Courts across the country on Tuesday were under lock and key in total compliance with the strike called by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

JUSUN had last week directed its members to embark on an indefinite strike in protest against the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.

While at the federal level the judiciary is on the front line charge making it to enjoy financial autonomy, the same cannot be said of the judiciary at the state level.

Determined to ensure states comply with this constitutional provisions, JUSUN accordingly directed its members across the country to shut down courts indefinitely nationwide, beginning from Tuesday.

A visit to courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) revealed total compliance with the strike. From the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, Abuja, the situation is the same.

The gates were all under lock and key, with no one seen going into or coming out of the court premises in different locations of the city capital of Abuja.

Also under lock and key is the headquarters of the FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja.

From the apex court to the lower courts, the busy environment of the courts have become a ghost of themselves with workers, lawyers and their clients staying away, safe men of the Nigeria Police Force, the NSCDC and private guards at the entrance of the individual courts.

However at the Federal High Court, Abuja, some of the JUSUN officials sighted said that the strike would continue until the government fully addresses the issue of financial autonomy of the judiciary.

The official, who refused to give his name on grounds that he was not authorised to speak for the union, however disclosed that the leadership of JUSUN as at the time of the interview was in a meeting with the National Judicial Council (NJC), adding that a positive outcome of the meeting can however bring a speedy end to the strike.

JUSUN had on March 13, 2021 issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government which elapsed on Sunday, April 4, 2021.

The strike, which was scheduled for Monday, was however shifted to Tuesday, April 6, 2021, owing to the Easter holiday.
According to a statement by JUSUN President, Marwan Adamu, “All courts and other departments would be shut until and unless the government does the needful.”

Similarly, a circular with Ref. no. JUSUN/NHQ/GEN/111/VOL.11/65 dated April 1, 2021 and signed by JUSUN’s General Secretary, Isaiah Adetola, directed members of JUSUN across the country to comply with the directive by the NEC of the union.

“I have been directed to refer to the communiqué issued at the end of the last National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of JUSUN on March 13, 2021 in Abuja and particularly refer to paragraph 9 on 21 day ultimatum to government to implement the financial autonomy of the Judiciary, failure of which JUSUN will have no option but to resume the suspended national strike.

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

“You are directed to shut down Courts/Departments in your states until further notice from the National Secretariat of JUSUN in Abuja,” the circular read.