OBSERVERS note that lawyers and other stakeholders in law administration have divergent views on whether or not judiciary workers should suspend the ongoing strike.
According to them while some of the stakeholders desire a roundtable, others insist that the government should first comply with the January 13, 2014 court order.
They note that non-compliance with the court order and other agreements signed by the parties involved has informed the strike.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of Federal High Court, Abuja, by the order, had earlier restrained the Federal Government and state governors from holding on to funds meant for the judiciary.
However, observers note that the governors have allegedly failed to comply with the court’s decisions after several meetings and signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU).
In his view, Mr Marwan Adamu, the National President of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), noted that the governors’ position provoked the strike.
“When JUSUN reviewed the strike plan, the workers expressed readiness to call off the strike if the government complied with the court judgment by granting financial autonomy to states’ judiciary.
“After a thorough review of the journey so far, the judiciary hereby resolves that the ongoing strike should be sustained until all stakeholders comply with judgment of the Federal High Court and the MoU,’’ he said.
According to Adamu, the union frowns at the action of some state governors and highly placed individuals, who are trying to frustrate the implementation of the judgment by the court.
He also claimed that the court had told the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Jonah Otunla, to make deductions of the amount standing to the credit of states’ judiciary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He said in the light of this, the Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity, Alhaji Kabir Turaki, directed the accountant-general recently to implement the agreement from January 15.
In his opinion, Mr Pius Ofulue, a lawyer in Abuja, said that he would rather persuade the state governments to obey the court order.
“The strike by judiciary workers is a welcome development; it will enhance the strict compliance with the rule of law in order to protect and sustain the country’s nascent democracy.
“Once a court of law pronounces a judgment between persons and the authority, such judgment needs to be enforced by virtue of Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution.
“Therefore, a government that wants its citizens to be law abiding must also obey the law by enforcing all judgments of the court as it is done in all civilised countries of the world,’’ Ofulue said.
He said that government should have appealed against the judgment if it was not satisfied, noting that disobedience was capable of undermining the rule of law in the country.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Sunday Orji, a lawyer in Abuja, stressed the need for government to be sincere in its dealings with the public.
“I can sense some political scheming in the present strike. Normally, the judiciary is supposed to be independent, being the third arm of the government.
“Government should allow the rule of law to thrive. It should obey the court order, it is the custodian of law, so why is it violating the law?’’ Orji noted.
But another lawyer in Abuja, Mr Edwin Enebeli, said that the strike could be avoided.
“I recall that there was a judgment of the Federal High Court which has neither been implemented nor appealed against.
“The choice is simple; it is either the judgment is implemented or an appeal is filed against it so that motion for stay of all actions is carried.
“If it is a declaratory judgment, then an application for injunction, restraining JUSUN from embarking on industrial action pending the determination of the appeal can as well be brought,’’ he said.
He said that by so doing, the strike would be brought to an end, at least temporarily, through the judicial process.
“If the judiciary is granted financial autonomy, it will most likely perform better than it has hitherto done, so I support the idea behind the strike,’’ Enebeli said.
On his part, Mr Afam Okeke, the immediate past Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja Chapter, said that the issue of financial autonomy of the judiciary had been taken for granted for long.
“No matter how painful it is, I think the judiciary workers’ are fighting a just cause; because the executive, both at the national and the state levels have taken the judiciary for a ride.
“The judiciary is not an appendage to the executive, but an independent arm of government.
“We have three arms of government and if the other two can have their independence, nothing should stop financial autonomy of the judiciary.
“In fact the judiciary should have been saddled with the responsibility of looking after the vote of the other two arms because of the level of education of judicial officers.

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