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NASS to engage govs on judiciary’s financial autonomy

…Reps appeal to JUSUN to suspend strike

The National Assembly has resolved to engage the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and other stakeholders to implement financial autonomy for states’ judiciary and legislature. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has urged the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to review it ongoing industrial action with a view to channeling their grievances to the appropriate quarters. Chairman, House Committee on Federal Judiciary, Hon. Onofiok Luke, made the call yesterday at a meeting with the leadership of JUSUN to resolve the labour impasse, following the failure of state governments to implement the executive order 10, granting financial autonomy for states’ judiciary and legislature. At a meeting with the judicial workers yesterday in Abuja, Luke said the House was in solidarity with them on the agitations for financial autonomy that will lead to the independence of the judiciary at the state level.

“Our only point of divergence here is the totality of the industrial action even within the federal courts because the Federal Government has abided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in making sure that money meant for federal judiciary – statutory transfer is sent straight to the National Judicial Council for the benefits of courts and other judicial bodies under the Federal Government.

“It not fair for staff of the judiciary at the federal level to embark on this industrial action. I understand your agitation, but please let’s narrow our agitation to those who have not complied with this issue of financial autonomy which are the states”, he said. He appealed to NGF to engage with JUSUN to make sure that the industrial action is resolved while the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is complied with so as to have financial autonomy, not only for the state legislatures, but equally for the judiciary at the state level.

“Let me state here, one that this House understands the fact that a major ingredient of democratic governance is independence of the judiciary. The House understands that, we have been advocating for it. It has found expression in the Legislative Agenda of the 9th National Assembly and we have acted and conducted our business in line with this understanding. “What makes for the independence of the judiciary is the financial autonomy of the judiciary where it will lead to a good working environment for the judicial officers and staff, it will lead to better welfare and judicial officers discharging their responsibilities without any fear or favour.

“But, let me emphasise that let us not punish others for the sins of others. Let us not in a bid to show solidarity punish litigants in federal courts for the sins of those at the state level. Let us place the blame squarely on the doorsteps of those who should take the blame”, Luke emphasised. Addressing the lawmakers, JUSUN deputy national president, Emmanuel Abioye, explained that the Union embarked on strike because the Constitution has not been implemented according to the description that guarantees financial autonomy and the judgement that was obtained seven years ago, but have not been complied with.

“There is no appeal, there is no stay of execution on this judgement. You can’t hear people speaking honestly to condemn the actions of people who are not implementing what they are supposed to implement. “With the plea, we will get back to our National Executive Committee (NEC). We review this industrial action all the time”, he said. In his presentation, JUSUN’s national assistant secretary, Sheu Magaji, pleaded that the National Assembly should intervene in the anomaly, but if it cannot, it should allow the union to continue with the strike which is the only language that the country’s government understands.

“The Executive Order that they are having problem with, they (governors) were carried along in the preparations of the template of the Executive Order and the only problem they have with the Executive Order is where it permitted the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct from source in case of any state that defaulted to give the judiciary what is due to it.

“That is why they don’t want this Executive Order to see the light of the day because they don’t want anybody to touch their money. Is it their personal money? Is it not public money? Did they print this money from their own houses? Is it not for Nigerians? So what are we saying?” Magaji queried.

 

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