The Federal Government and the various state governments across the nation have finally agreed to start funding the nation’s judiciary as prescribed by the Constitution.
This was the outcome of relentless agitations by the leadership of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria and the subsequent agreement reached with the union last Thursday.
The union had threatened to resume its nationwide strike if the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which on January 13, 2014, ordered compliance with the constitutional provision, was not implemented.
The judiciary workers had on July 11 gone on a three-week strike which was suspended after various concerned government functionaries and other stakeholders in the judiciary promised to ensure the implementation of the judgment.
Therefore, with the agreement now reached, from December, funds standing to the credit of the federal and the respective state judiciaries in the budgets would be deducted by the Accountant General of the Federation and remitted to the National Judicial Council.
The NJC will then disburse the funds to the various heads of courts.
This development was confirmed in a statement by the NJC, through its Acting Director (Information), Mr. Soji Oye.
The statement read in part, “The Judiciary Staff Association of Nigeria has called off its strike proposed to commece from Monday, December 1, 2015.
“The agreement to shelve the strike was reached on November 27, 2014 at the end of the meeting chaired by the Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria and other relevant Stakeholders.
“The bone of contention had been the implementation of the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on January 13, 2014 regarding Sections 81 (3), 121 (3) and 162 (9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“The stakeholders on November 27 reconciled the figures submitted by JUSUN with the budgeted estimates by the States Accountants-General and concluded that the Accountant-General of the Federation will make deductions during the next Federal Accounts Allocation Committee meeting to the National Judicial Council in line with the Court Judgment on actual funds released that can be defended by the respective States and duly concurred by JUSUN.
“A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Stakeholders to the effect.”
In reaction to the development, the Nigerian Bar Association commended the JUSUN leadership for suspending the strike.
President of the association in a statement said also praised the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed for his personal efforts in ensuring that the strike was averted.
Alegeh added, “We hope that all concerned Governments will respect these constitutional provisions as any strike action leading to the closure of our courts during the period of political party primaries and/or the 2015 general elections would adversely affect the entire electoral process and the foundations of our democracy.”