Strike: Lawyers lament as Ekiti judicial workers shut down courts

Court and judicial activities in Ekiti State have been paralysed following the strike action embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

The national secretariat of JUSUN had announced the indefinite strike action to press home the implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary arm of government.

When Tribune Online visited the premises of the Ekiti State High Court and the Magistrate court, on Tuesday, the gate of the courts were under lock and key thereby preventing people from gaining entrance into the building.

Members of the JUSUN were seen outside the gate ensuring total compliance with the Industrial action.

The strike left many persons including lawyers stranded and frustrated as they were not allowed into the premises to carry out their business of the day.

Also, Police Prosecutors and Magistrates were seen loitering around the premises of the Court with other litigants, while a prison van was seen returning the inmates back to the correctional centre after they could gain entrance into the court for continuation of cases.

A lawyer who gave his name as Tolu Agbola lamented the strike action by the judicial workers, saying it has affected series of his court actions to be filed on Tuesday.

Agbola pleaded with the workers to return to work in the interest of justice, saying the court was yet to recover from many months of a break last year occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have cases I want to file in the court this morning but you can see how it is no longer possible. It is sad what we have in our hand now. The judicial system is suffering from this strike as a lot of court proceedings will be affected which will make suspects and other persons suffering more than expected.

“Don’t forget we were at home for months last year due to COVID-19 and now the strike action. This is not the best of time for this strike and I will plead with the workers to shelve the strike.”

Another lawyer, Tope Orogbemi, said he was billed to appear for a case on Tuesday but could not hold due to the strike.

He said: “Our case was adjourned for today (Tuesday) but as you can see it is not possible now and that means the suspects I planned to perfect their bail today will have to remain in the prison till only God knows.

“This is not good for the justice system and I hope the government and the workers will reach a compromise as soon as possible for activities to return to the courts.”

Speaking with Tribune Online, the Chairman of the state chapter of JUSUN, Mrs Rachael Ayeni, said the strike would be indefinite until the government begins the implementation of the financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

According to her, the Union had at its last National Executive Meeting on March 13, 2021, in Abuja, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary or face the strike, blaming the government for playing a lackadaisical attitude to plights of the workers.

Ayeni said: “A circular was signed by JUSUN’s General Secretary, Mr Isreal Adetola, directed all states and zonal heads of the union to comply with the strike.

“The strike action ought to have started on Monday, April 5 but was moved to today April 6 due to the Easter public holiday. This strike is going to be indefinite here until there is a directive from our National Secretariat.

“President Muhammadu Buhari had on May 22, 2020, signed into law an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.

“The Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, made it mandatory for all states to include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets but we are yet to see the implementation across the country.”

She pleaded with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and other members of the public in the state to show more understanding with the union towards achieving the needed financial autonomy which would improve the judicial system in the country.

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Strike: Lawyers lament as Ekiti judicial workers shut down courts

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