The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary is to engage the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and all relevant stakeholders with a view to ensuring judicial financial autonomy.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Luke Onofiok (PDP-Akwa-Ibom), made this known during a meeting with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Abuja.
JUSUN began a nationwide indefinite strike on Monday, April 6 over non-implementation of judicial financial autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution.
President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the judiciary and state house of assembly in May 2020, after several agitations.
However, the gazetting of the order was suspended after Buhari met with governors, who later expressed concern over its constitutionality.
Onofiok appealed to state governors to implement the section of the constitution that demands financial autonomy for the judiciary.
According to him, if we have all the arms of government operating on equal footing, we are going to have a better society.
The chairman described JUSUN’s demands as genuine to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
He, however appealed to the union to resume work at the federal courts as the Federal Government has complied with their demands.
According to him, it is not good to punish others for the sins of other people.
“It will lead to better working environment for judicial officers and staff of the judiciary, better staff welfare and enable judicial officers to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
“To that extent, we are in solidarity with you on the agitations you are making to make sure that you have financial autonomy at the judiciary.
“Our only point of divergence is the totality of the industrial action even within the federal court; if the Federal Government has abided by the provisions of the Constitution in making sure that monies meant for federal judiciary is sent straight to the National Judicial Council, it is not fair for staff of the federal judiciary to continue with the strike.
“I know and sure it is solidarity forever, but let us narrow the strike to those who have not complied with this issue of financial autonomy,”he said.
Earlier, the Deputy National Chairman of JUSUN, Mr Emmenuel Abioye, said that the ongoing strike could have been avoided if the Rule of Law is respected.
Abioye said that Sections 122 (3), 82(3), 262(9) of the 1999 Constitution clearly speaks for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
He said that issue had been ongoing since 1999 and that there is court judgment in favour of the union’s position which had not been executed in the past seven years.
“If the Judiciary which is the last hope of the common man is not independent, how will the people get justice.
“Rather than appealing to the union to call off the strike, the people should call on those holding back from implementing the law, we cannot continue to be suffering and smiling,”he said.
The National Assistant Secretary of JUSUN, Mr Saidu Adamu, said it is unfortunate that when the poor breaks the law, he is made to dance to the tune, but the rich and powerful gets away with it.
“When I heard that the House was inviting us, I thought they are going to tell us what they will do to make the governors obey the law.
“If the National Assembly cannot make the governors to obey the law, they should leave us to do what we can, we are fighting for the common man.
“Give us your support to ensure that the laws you made are implemented; I think the Constitution should be amended to enable National Assembly sanction erring governors”, he said.