Magistrates in Nasarawa State embark on indefinite strike

The State Attorney General says he does not understand what the magistrates want.

Magistrate courts in Lafia, Nasarawa State were shut down on Wednesday as the state’s chapter of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria (MAN) embarked on an indefinite strike action.

There were also reports of some magistrate courts in other parts of the state suffering the same fate.

Magistrates were seen formed in groups discussing the strike in many of the courts.

The association had in a statement issued Wednesday in Lafia and signed by its Public Relations Officer, Habila Abundaga, announced the commencement of the strike action.

The statement also directed all magistrates in the state to down tools indefinitely, with effect from the midnight of Aug. 21, 2012, and urged members to be law-abiding.

It had said the strike action was as a result of the failure of the state governor, Tanko Al-Makura, to accede to the law officers’ demands.

Similarly, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in the state had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the state government to resolve all the issues raised by the body.

The union announced this in a communiqué signed by Sunday Daniel and Danjuma Yakubu, the Nasarawa State Chapter Vice Chairman and Public Relations Officer, respectively.

It had said this was necessary if its members were not to proceed on a strike, alleging that the state Judicial Service Commission (JSC) failed to dialogue with it.

“The commission does not appreciate the place of discussions, negotiation or a bargaining process in resolving labour-related issues in the judiciary,’’ the union said.

Reacting to the magistrates’ strike, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mohammed Abdullahi, said that government does not understand the law officers’ grouse.

He however assured that the state government is still ready to dialogue.

“We are yet to understand the grouse of MAN, when you situate their demands within the context of what are their rights and/or privileges.

“Majority of what they are asking for are privileges within the context of their terms of employment,’’ Mr. Abdullahi said.

He said government is acting within the spirit of Section 121 of the 1999 Constitution.

“This means that, at the end of every month, government pays to the head of the judiciary what was due to the judiciary in respect of recurrent expenditure,’’ the Attorney-General said.

He said government had gone to court to get an order restraining MAN from going on strike until the issues raised were determined.

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