Friday, September 24, 2021

Nigerian lawyers groan as JUSUN strike bites harder

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Some lawyers in Abuja on Thursday expressed concern over the prolonged strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN.

JUSUN on April 6 directed its members to shut down all courts across the country; its members complied with the directive and mounted guard at the entrances of the courts to ensure that no one entered the court premises.

The lawyers, therefore, appealed to the State Governors for a quick resolution to end the strike.

Speaking to with News Agency of Nigeria, a lawyer, Augustine Nwosu said: “It has been over two months since the strike began.

”It has not been easy for users of the court. I have never seen anything like this in my 18 years of law practice.

“The strike has forced us to go on compulsory holiday, litigants cannot go to court to get justice they deserve and the police cell is congested because suspects cannot be brought to court.

“Just as we are picking up from the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now this.

”I barely have any money now, because the court is our workshop, we the litigation lawyers, now, this workshop is shutdown since April 6.

”For goodness sake I have a family to provide for, I am a private practitioner and not on any salary. So how do I survive”?

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Also, Joel Ali, another lawyer said strike has caused untold hardship to counsel.

“The hardship and helplessness suffered by many lawyers like me is capable of causing depression.

“Imagine waking up each day without focus, without schedule, without vision because what you are used to is no more there.

“You can’t even reach out to anything tangible because things are getting tough every second. What is going on?’’ he asked.

Sunday Idowu, who said he supports autonomy for the judiciary but the things will not work like this.

”Nothing can be achieved without orderliness, stability, progress or development that the  judiciary gives.

“Give this arm all tools to work, it will work and things will take a better and humanly shape, there will be progress and everyone will grow happily.

“Now imagine the hardship and helplessness of a lawyer today, who cannot provide anything for our family. It is pitiful.

He called on the government to be a little sensitive and show the humane angle in them to the many lawyers and other citizens going through different hardships.

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NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had in January 2014, held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.

NAN reports that on May 23, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.

The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

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The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.

According to the AGF, “a Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”

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NAN reports that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said they will start implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary latest by May ending, a pledge that indicates that an end to the ongoing strike that has crippled the nation’s judiciary may be in sight.

The governors also called on striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike.

The chairman of the NGF, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, gave this assurance in an interview with journalists after meeting with ‘stakeholders’ from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Mr Fayemi has said that the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.

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According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives.

The first line charge status, which is being respected by the federal government in respect of the federal judiciary, entitles the state judiciaries to get funds due to them directly from the federation account.

NAN

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