The National Judicial Council (NJC) has set up a committee to monitor the implementation of the judiciary’s financial autonomy in various states of the federation.
Judiciary workers, who are leading the agitation for the implementation of the constitutional provision on the financial autonomy of the third arm of government, on Wednesday, suspended their over-two-month-old strike in the hopes that state governors would earnestly honour their compliance agreement.
The workers, under the aegis of the Judiciary Staff Union (JUSUN), had started their nationwide strike on April 6, crippling all courts across the country for 64 days.
They called off the industrial action on Wednesday after an emergency meeting with the NJC on Tuesday. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) too played crucial roles in the talks.
The NJC’s director of information, Soji Oye, in a statement on Wednesday, gave major highlights of the major decisions reached during Tuesday’s meeting with JUSUN leaders.
He hinted in the statement that part of the decisions was constituting a five-man committee to monitor the implementation of the judiciary’s financial autonomy as agreed between JUSUN leaders and the state governors.
“The council thereafter set up a five-man committee in order to monitor the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and JUSUN,” the statement added.
NBA president reveals names of members
The NBA president, Olumide Akpata, gave details of the membership of the committee in a statement on Thursday.
He said the committee was set up to ensure that governors “do not renege from their financial and ancillary commitments”.
He listed himself as one of the five members appointed to the committee by the NJC.
Other members, according to him, include, Sidi Bage, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and current Emir of Lafia in Nasarawa State, and the President of the National Industrial Court, Benedict Kanyip.
The rest are the Chief Judge of Abia State, and Muiz Banire, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“In a bid to address concerns raised by JUSUN on the bona fides and commitment of the state governors to meeting their part of the obligations under the negotiated agreement, the NJC has set up a Monitoring Committee which is to ensure that the governors do not renege from their financial and ancillary commitments, which influenced JUSUN’s decision to suspend the strike,” Mr Akpata said.
Applause for lawyers
Mr Akpata also applauded members for their patience during the strike that lasted 64 days.
“There is no question that the last ten weeks have been particularly challenging for many of our members, as a result of the now suspended strike action. To this end, permit me to place on record my total appreciation to our members, the leadership of the various branches of the NBA and to all those who showed remarkable doggedness throughout the duration of this very unfortunate episode in our history as a profession and a nation.
“It is my hope that these sacrifices will contribute towards our quest for a more independent and efficient judiciary in Nigeria,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the judiciary would never“never to tread this path again”.
Mr Akpata assured lawyers that “regardless of any misgivings or shortcomings in the process, the NBA will continue to engage with the State governors and JUSUN, towards a holistic resolution of the issues that necessitated the industrial action in the first instance.”