The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has appealed to its members over the lingering strike action by judiciary workers that has occasioned a shutdown of courts across the country.
Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the umbrella body of court workers in the country had on April 6, embarked on the nationwide strike to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The strike has left courts across the country shut for a whole month, making it the longest industrial action the nation’s judiciary has ever seen.
The NBA in a statement by its publicity secretary, Rapulu Nduka, on Wednesday, said it would continue to engage with the various ‘stakeholders’ in ensuring that the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the financial autonomy of the judiciary, are enforced as a condition for calling off the strike action.
The association acknowledged the financial strain that must have been occasioned by the strike action on its members, urging lawyers in the country to exercise patience as part of its obligation to enthrone the rule of law in Nigeria.
“The NBA leadership is not unmindful of the financial strain on legal practitioners, occasioned by the ongoing JUSUN strike, and plead with members to be patient as this struggle anchors on the Association’s paramount mandate of promoting the Rule of Law.
“As you are aware, the strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has entered its 5th week. The implication of this, is that our courts are shut down, thereby halting the activities of the 3rd arm of government.
“Be assured that the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association will continue to engage the various stakeholders in ensuring that the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the financial autonomy of the judiciary, are enforced to the latter, as a condition precedent for calling off the strike action.
“The NBA leadership commends the efforts of its Branches in standing firm, and putting the necessary pressure on the various State Governments, to obey the law in this regard. The various Branches are urged not to relent in the interest of our democracy.
“The NBA leadership is not unmindful of the financial strain on legal practitioners, occasioned by the ongoing JUSUN strike, and plead with members to be patient as this struggle anchors on the Association’s paramount mandate of promoting the Rule of Law,” the statement read.
JUSUN, through its strike, is demanding the implementation of section 121(3) of the Nigerian constitution which stipulates that the funds meant for the judiciary at state level should be released directly from the federation account to the heads of various courts.
Judgments of the Federal High Court delivered in 2014 have also affirmed this constitutional provision.
But despite this, governors continue to receive all the funds meant for their states from the federation account and only release monies to the two other arms of government as they please.
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