The Senate on Monday said the independence of the judiciary was not negotiable.

Chair Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, said this in an interview with journalists in Abuja.

Mr Bamidele was reacting to the ongoing strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

JUSUN began a nationwide indefinite strike on April 6 over the non-implementation of judicial financial autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the judiciary and State House of Assembly in May 2020, after several agitations.

However, the gazetting of the order was suspended after Mr Buhari met with governors, who later expressed concern over its constitutionality.

Reacting to the development, Mr Bamidele ,who said the independence of the judiciary was non-negotiable, added that no democracy could survive without Rule of Law and independence of the judiciary.

“For me as a Nigerian, it is laughable that we still need at this point, to be grappling with the need to grant judiciary independence at whatever level be it at the federal, state and local government level.

“Our laws are very clear on this,” he said.

He said the National Assembly had guaranteed the independence of the judiciary at the federal level calling on state houses of assembly to do the same.

“For the National Assembly, we have done the needful by making necessary laws that can guarantee independence of the judiciary at the federal level. So for us, it is not an issue because we have done the needful.

“What is left is for our state houses of assembly to also do what they are supposed to do.

“And that is why as a principle, as a policy, members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters have tried not to call on those who are protesting to stop such protest.

“We do not want protest but definitely we will rather talk more to our state governors, to our state houses of assembly and to the stakeholders that are supposed to do the needful to please do the needful in overriding public interest.

“We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice.

“We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilised world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting judiciary independence at the state level. It has been done at the national level.”

(NAN)

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