Labour minister, Chris Ngige, has rescheduled a fresh meeting with the leaderships of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), over the lingering strike that has crippled court activities across the country for two weeks.
Representatives of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) are also expected to be at the meeting scheduled to hold in Abuja on Tuesday.
Members of JUSUN had on April 6 embarked on the indefinite nationwide strike to press home their demand for judiciary’s financial autonomy.
The labour minister had on Thursday announced a last-minute postponement of the meeting he was scheduled to hold with the NBA, JUSUN and other stakeholders over the lingering crisis.
The abrupt postponement of the meeting infuriated the leaderships of the body of lawyers and the striking workers’ union, both of whom in response, called for nationwide protests over the matter.
The protests held in Abuja and different parts of the country on Monday.
PREMIUM TIMES on Monday saw a copy of the memo sent by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to the NBA president, Olumide Akpata, rescheduling the earlier cancelled meeting for 3p.m. on Tuesday.
The memo dated April 16, 2021 with reference number MLIB/155/II/70 was signed by the ministry’s Director, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations. O. U Akpan.
The copy seen by this newspaper bears NBA’s acknowledgement stamp dated April 19, 2021.
“I am directed to refer to our invitation with reference number ML.IB/155/II/65 dated April 13, 2021 on the above subjected and to inform you that the meeting has been rescheduled as follows:
“Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021; Time: 3:00p.m.
“Venue: Honourable Minister’s Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Secretariat, Federal Secretariat, Phase 1, Abuja,” the memo reads.
A national officer of JUSUN, Jimoh Musa, confirmed at the protest ground on Monday that the union had received the ministry’s invitation for the Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr Musa also told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that he was informed by an officer of the labour ministry that representatives of the body of governors, the NGF, will be attending the meeting.
Others who were invited for the earlier botched meeting are expected to be reinvited for the fresh meeting.
They include federal government officials such as the representatives of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Presidential Committee on Financial Autonomy for the Judiciary.
They also include the representatives of the Body of Chief Judges of States and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Series of meetings have been held between JUSUN leadership and other stakeholders in an effort to resolve the crisis.
JUSUN officers have, since the strike started on April 6, held separate meetings with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, representatives of the NBA, the labour minister, some members of the House of Representative, among others.
Apart from a little interaction some JUSUN officers had with representatives of the NGF during a TV programme in the first week of the strike, no serious meeting has been held between the leadership of the striking union and the governors.
Governors as main target of ongoing strike
Meanwhile, the governors are the main target of the strike.
The striking workers are demanding the implementation of section 121(3) of the Nigerian constitution which is being flouted by the governors.
The section provides that funds meant for the judiciary should be released to the heads of court in various states directly from the consolidated revenue account.
A judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered in January 2014 has affirmed the constitutional provision, yet the governors have refused to comply.
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