Lawyers groan as judiciary workers’ strike drags on

Lawyers groan as judiciary workers’ strike drags on
Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) shuts down Federal high Court, Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and others in Abuja. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO (Guardian)

Some lawyers in Abuja on Thursday expressed concern over the prolonged strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that JUSUN on April 6 directed its members to shut down all courts across the country; its members complied with the directive and mounted guard at the entrances of the courts to ensure that no one entered the court premises.

The lawyers, therefore, appealed to the State Governors for a quick resolution to end the strike. Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a lawyer, Augustine Nwosu said: "it has been over two months since the strike began.

"It has not been easy for users of the court. I have never seen anything like this in my 18 years of law practice.

"The strike has forced us to go on compulsory holiday, litigants can not go to court to get the justice they deserve and the police cell is congested because suspects can not be brought to court.

"Just as we are picking up from the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now this.

"I barely have any money now, because the court is our workshop, we the litigation lawyers, now, this workshop is shut down since April 6.

"For goodness sake, I have a family to provide for, I am a private practitioner and not on any salary. So how do I survive"?

Also, Mr Joel Ali, another lawyer said the strike has caused untold hardship to counsel.

"The hardship and helplessness suffered by many lawyers like me are capable of causing depression.

"Imagine waking up each day without focus, without a schedule, without vision because what you are used to is no more there.

"You can't even reach out to anything tangible because things are getting tough every second. What is going on?'' he asked.

Sunday Idowu, who said he supports autonomy for the judiciary but things will not work like this.

"Nothing can be achieved without orderliness, stability, progress or development that the judiciary gives.

"Give this arm all tools to work, it will work and things will take a better and humanly shape, there will be progress and everyone will grow happily.

"Now imagine the hardship and helplessness of a lawyer today, who cannot provide anything for our family. It is pitiful."

He called on the government to be a little sensitive and show the humane angle in them to the many lawyers and other citizens going through different hardships.

NAN reports that a verdict of the Federal High Court in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, had in January 2014, held that financial autonomy for the judiciary is a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.

NAN reports that on May 23, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.

The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.