The Nigerian Labor Congress, NLC condemns the attitude with which the 36 State Governors who have engendered a paralysing strike in the country’s judiciary as a result of their refusal to obey an order of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice A.F.A Ademola in Abuja.
The NLC says the court had granted an order in January 2014 directing that funds meant for all State judiciary as allocations from the Federation/Consolidated Revenue Fund should be paid directly to heads of the State courts; the court also declared as unconstitutional, null and void piece-meal payments/allocations of funds through the Ministries of Finance in the states to the state judiciary at the pleasure of State Governors.
Abdulwahed Omar, President Of the Labour congress said the union is surprised that despite receiving copies of the judgement, none of the 36 State Governors have complied with the judgement and this has caused the judicial workers under the auspices of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, to proclaim a strike that have effectively shut down all state judiciary in the country since July 11 2014.
Omar said,”For us, we believe all the Governors are the greatest beneficiaries of not just constitutional democracy, some of them are indeed direct beneficiaries of judgements of courts or tribunals of competent jurisdiction and it would be a dangerous precedence for the Governors to be leading in blatantly refusing to obey a judgement that has been made by a court of competent jurisdiction as this will be an open encouragement of anarchy and a daring promotion of impunity.”
The issues at stake are fundamentally constitutional as the Governors’ handling of funds meant for their state judiciaries have been in breach of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the court have nullified this. The Governors must comply with the judgement or follow appropriate judicial processes and stop behaving as outlaws.
The NLC says it supports the ongoing strike by the judicial workers and will take every step necessary to ensure the full success of the strike action, which commenced only after the failure of the interventions of stakeholders in getting the governors to obey the judgement without recourse to strike action.
“When beneficiaries of democratic processes stand against constitutional and legal procedures, they should be considered a major obstacle to the sustainance of democracy. The Governors have shown their collective disdain for democratic processes and are therefore obvious promoters of impunity and Nigerians should consider them part of the anti democratic elements who constitute danger to democracy in Nigeria.”
“While commending the Federal government for implementing this Constitutional provision, we call on all Nigerians, including the legislature at state and national levels to support the struggles of the judicial workers as this is also part of struggles that will ultimately ensure full independence of the judiciary in Nigeria.” statement concluded.