Judicial Strike: Financial Autonomy Of judiciary Non-negotiable – Christian Lawyers


By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna

The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria, (CLASFON), has observed that the financial autonomy of the Nigerian Judiciary is absolutely not-negotiable.
The group noted that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), on 6th April, 2021 embarked on a nationwide industrial action to press home its demand that the judiciary arm of government both at the Federal and state levels must be allowed to enjoy its constitutional right of financial autonomy as provided in Section 81(3) and Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Arome Okwori and Tunji Omole, National President and National Secretary of CLASFON, in a statement made available to New Nigerian in Kaduna, explained, “Beside these constitutional provisions concerning the financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary, there is a subsisting court order validating the reason for the on-going industrial action embarked on by JUSUN way back in the case of JUSUN v. AG Federation & Ors (Unreported) Suit No. FHC/ABJ/667/13.”
The group noted that the Court order has now subsisted for nearly 7 years without any challenge, saying that one expects that with all this avalanche of constitutional and judicial authorities preserving the financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary, the Governors of the various States in the Nigerian Federation being the people’s representatives should have no difficulty abiding with the dictates of the Constitution. 
“However, this is not the case as a large percentage of the Nigerian Governors have refused, neglected and or failed to uphold the independence of the judiciary in their various States,” the lawyers lamented. 
“They constantly neglect to allow the judiciary a free hand to prepare its own budgets and have unfettered access to its own funds whereas same rights are enjoyed by the executive and in most cases by the legislative arms of governments in those states,” the group observed.

The statement explained that JUSUN in its determined bid to ensure the rule of law regarding the independence of the judiciary has repeatedly issued warnings that it would have no choice but to down tools if the executive arm of the government continues to behave “like a bull in a china store” in its inglorious efforts at muzzling the judiciary.  
The lawyers lamented that not deterred by these warnings, the Governors have continued to abuse their powers by ensuring that the independence and financial autonomy of the judiciary remains a mirage.  
According to the statement, it is sad to note that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which the Governors swore to uphold at their inauguration as Governors of their states is the same Constitution, they are deprecating by refusing to allow the judiciary enjoy its financial autonomy. 
It observed that the financial autonomy would greatly promote the rule of law in Nigeria, preserve and promote the country’s democracy,
The group added that the financial autonomy would also greatly ensure the needed independence of the judiciary to function and ensure the proper funding of the judiciary.
CLASFON explained that the financial autonomy would greatly guarantee the independence of the judicial officers to dispense justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, stressing that it would greatly ensure the smooth running of the administration of justice in Nigeria to allay the needless fears of the unyielding Governors of the Nigerian states.
CLASFON stressed that the gains of financial autonomy of the judiciary is not limited to the ordinary citizens of Nigeria but also to those political actors who have refused to obey the dictates of the Nigerian Constitution on the financial autonomy of the judiciary. 
The lawyers reminded that the financial autonomy of the judiciaries in their various states would ensure peace and prosperity in their various States especially in this unsavoury era of insecurity and economic instability that has befallen our dear country.
CLASFON, therefore, wishes to draw the attention of the Federal and state governments to the fact that allowing the industrial action of JUSUN to linger without quickly giving in to the simple demand of the striking workers portends grave danger to all and sundry as the continued industrial action does more harm than good. 
The continuous strike by the judiciary staff, according to the group, would threatens the stability of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria.
It added that it would threatens nationwide security of lives and properties as citizens have nowhere to vent their grievances thus encouraging citizens to take the laws into their hands.
The group noted that the strike would discourages foreign investors from investing in Nigeria as their investments are not protected from the vagaries and preferences of politicians.
It would undermines the security architecture and mechanism of justice in Nigeria as facilities housing suspects under criminal investigation are currently overcrowded thus making room for jail breaks.
It added that the crowdedness of the custodial facilities (in this COVID-19 pandemic era) by people awaiting trial portends grave danger to the health of all citizens in the country.
CLASFON further observes with sadness and worry that the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) till date is yet to meet with JUSUN over its industrial action. 
It lamented that the Nigerian Governors Forum have continued to exhibit signs of scant regards to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which itself made provisions for their very existence as Governors of their various States.
It is CLASFON’s position that the Executive arm of governments (at the Federal and State levels) should immediately comply with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on the financial autonomy of the judiciary and in doing so, spare the country of further untold uncertainty, instability and unnecessary hardships to which the non-compliance have exposed our dear country.


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