The Nigerian court workers accuse the federal government of not implementing an agreed salary structure.
In a bid to enforce a strike order, the National Executive of the judicial workers’ union, Tuesday, stormed the federal courts in Lagos and shut them down.
The courts affected were the Federal High Court, Ikoyi; the National Industrial Court, Ikoyi; and the Court of Appeal, Lagos Island.
An official of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, Tajudeen Adelenu, said that it was an order from the union’s national headquarters in Abuja.
“We are sent by the national officers of our union that we should lock up all federal courts in our states based on their agreement after sending a 21 day ultimatum,” said Mr. Adelenu.
The judicial workers say that they are unhappy with the non-implementation of the Consolidated Salary Structure for judicial workers in federal courts.
At the end of an emergency meeting of a national delegates conference of JUSUN, in Minna, on March 5; the union directed the leaders of its branches nationwide to ensure that all federal courts were shut down.
“That in view of the non compliance with the ultimatum issued, the Special Emergency National Delegates Conference in session hereby directs that all Federal Courts be shut down indefinitely with effect from Monday, 11th March 2013, if by midnight of Sunday, 10th March 2013; there are no frantic efforts to resolve all issues raised by JUSUN,” read a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting.
The affected courts include the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Courts of Appeal; Federal High Courts; Customary Court of Appeal, Abuja; Sharia Court of Appeal, Abuja; and the National Industrial Court.
The nationwide industrial action began on Monday, but the courts in Lagos failed to comply.
“I’ve not seen any notice that we should go on strike. We are working. The moment they say this is the instruction, we would comply,” said Bello Okandeji, Deputy Chief Registrar at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Monday.
However, on Tuesday, JUSUN officials started enforcing the strike in all the federal courts in Lagos.
“The officials came this morning and locked up all the gates to the court,” said a security guard at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
At the Court of Appeal in Lagos Island, staff were hurried out of the premises and the gate locked after them.
Mr. Adelenu said that all the federal courts in Abuja and other states complied with the directive to go on strike on Monday.
“Lagos State did not start yesterday (Monday) because we were trying to put some feasibility studies on ground, so we started this morning,” Mr. Adelenu said.
There will be a meeting between the government and the judiciary union executives on Tuesday, according to Mr. Adelenu.
“Immediately they meet with our national officers and they have a conclusion and agreement, then the strike may be suspended,” he said.
In appealing for a quick resolution to the industrial action, Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Governor, called for a negotiation between both parties.
“I make an appeal on behalf of litigants and on behalf of people who seek justice, that we should quickly put an end to the strike,” said Mr. Fashola, at the commissioning of the new complex of the state Judicial Service Commission in Ikeja.
“It does our country no good and does not afford the people access to justice.
“Whatever the issues may be, I believe that negotiation will make a way for us,” he added.