Independent judiciary: Senate backs JUSUN

• Says autonomy not negotiable

Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has called on state assemblies and Governors to give priority to financial autonomy for the judiciary.

He gave the advice on Monday while speaking with newsmen shortly after the public hearing organised by
the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on the Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re-Enactment ) Bill 2021.

Checks revealed that judiciary workers under the aegis of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria had since April 6, 2021, left the courts in Nigeria under lock and key because of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

Senator Bamidele who clarified that the National Assembly had since passed the law that would guarantee autonomy for the Judiciary at the federal level called on their counterparts in the states to borrow a leaf from the federal lawmakers.

He said: “It is laughable that at this point, we are still grappling with the need to grant independence to the judiciary arm of government at the state level and local governments levels. The National Assembly has been making laws that would guarantee full autonomy to the judiciary at the Federal level.

“The National Assembly does not make laws for the states, such power resides in the state Houses of Assembly. Judiciary at the Federal Capital Territory is independent because we have done what we are supposed to do. What is next is for the state Houses of Assembly to do what they are supposed to do.

“As a principle, as a policy, members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters have tried not to call on those who are protesting to stop such protests. We do not want protests but definitely, we would rather talk more to state governors, houses of Assembly and other stakeholders to do the needful in the overriding public interest.

“We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice. We are talking about judicial reform, we are talking about the need for justice sector reforms. This is central and crucial to the independence of the judiciary in this country.

“We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilized world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting independence to the judiciary at the state level since it has been done at the national level. The fact that workers and staff of the federal judiciary are joining the protest is only in solidarity with their colleagues at the state levels. It is a union matter and we do not have control over it.

” We are hereby calling on the state governors to do the needful because the independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable. No democracy can survive without being founded on the rule of law and independent judiciary.”

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