By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has set up a five-man committee to monitor the implementation of the memorandum of action (MoA) signed between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) on financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
The NJC took the decision after its meeting on Tuesday with leaders of JUSUN and some other stakeholders, during which it demand an end to the over two-month strike by court workers in view of its impact on the nation’s court system and appeals from other stakeholders.
NJC’s spokesman, Soji Oye, in a statement on Wednesday, said the NJC, led by its Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, at the Tuesday’s meeting, prevailed on the striking court workers to put an end to the industrial action.
The statement reads in part: “Sequel to the prolonged strike of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and its effect on the Judiciary and the Nation at large, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council, Honourable Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR convened an emergency meeting of council on Tuesday 8 June 2021 with the Chief Judges of states, the JUSUN Executive members as well as Senator Ita Enang, the Senior Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of the Implementation Committee with a view to finding a lasting solution to the lingering strike.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and other stakeholders during the interface lamented that the strike had affected the Judiciary in particular and the nation at large and therefore sought for a way to resolve the lingering issue.
“Emmanuel Abiri, Deputy President of JUSUN who briefed the Council on behalf of the Executive members of the association, during the stakeholders meeting, explained that the grouse of the union was that despite the constitutional provision of sections 81 (3), 121 (3), 162 (9) and the judgement delivered since 2015 in favour of JUSUN, the Executive Order 10 of 2020 and the agreement reached between the union, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the Governors have refused to yield financial autonomy to the State Judiciary.
“He added that the Union’s other grievances include; non-payment of peculiar allowance for Judiciary Staff; attempt by the Kaduna State Governor to place the State Judiciary under its Civil Service and scheming for a State Judicial Council.
“He posited that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum was merely playing politics with the Constitution and had also failed to remit the one-month payment agreed on at the end of May as a demonstration of their good faith.
“Mr Abiri opined that if the Forum could renege in fulfilling its promise at the end of the month of May, there was no guarantee that it would not in June.
“He therefore requested that the Accountant-General of the Federation be directed to deduct from source the amount meant for the Judiciary before the Union could call off the strike.
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“Council therefore, yielded the floor to Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, the Secretary of the Presidential Implementation Committee and a conciliator to the trade union, who pleaded with the council to intervene by appealing to JUSUN to suspend the strike even if not calling it off, to enable the various governors implement the agreement.
“He promised that Executive Order 10 would be enforced on any Governor who failed to implement.
“At the end of deliberations, council advised JUSUN to consider suspending the strike in the interest of administration of justice and national interest.
“Thereafter, the JUSUN Executive requested for a 10-minute break to enable them consults with their members, a request which the council gladly obliged.
“The Executive members of JUSUN returned to inform the council that they have agreed with the advice of council, adding that National Executive Council (NEC) of JUSUN will meet on Wednesday 9 June 2021 to suspend the strike.
“The council thereafter set up a five-man committee in order to monitor the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and JUSUN.”