Financial autonomy for judiciary not negotiable, JUSUN tells Cross River government
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has decried request for negotiation of the 1999 Constitution over financial autonomy for the nation’s judiciary, insisting that it was not negotiable and instead canvassed negotiation of immunity clause for government officials.
Chairman, Cross River State chapter of JUSUN, Asang Ebong, told The Guardian in an interview in Calabar that financial autonomy for the judiciary, as provided for in constitution was not negotiable under any circumstance.
JUSUN had commenced a nationwide strike on April 6, 2021, demanding financial autonomy for the judiciary, especially at the state level.
“The governors forum and committees have been meeting to negotiate, but constitutional provisions cannot be negotiated. Financial autonomy has to be respected the way it is in the constitution.
“For those suggesting that the law should be negotiated, we ask them to start with negotiation of the immunity clause in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which provides that governors should neither be prosecuted, nor cases preferred against them, as such processes will affect governance.
“Therefore, let us begin to negotiate that they can be prosecuted since the constitution can be negotiated, but if not, section 121 of the constitution cannot be negotiated and that is our stand,” he stated.
Citing section 121 (3) of the constitution, he argued that any fund credited to the judiciary in the states’ consolidated fund should be paid directly to the head of court for management, stating that the executive arm of government had religiously implemented that provision in their case.
“We have been advocating financial autonomy of the judiciary as enshrined in the constitution, especially section 121 (3). “
We have exhausted all avenues and even the executive arm of government at the federal level has seen that the states refused to respect that section of the constitution.
“That is the reason executive order 10 came into existence and even at that, nothing has been done, that is why the industrial action will continue until that is done,” he added.
Ebong, who appealed to Nigerians to support the fight to end what he described as selective justice and respect for the constitution and laws of the country, said: “We are not asking for salary increase, we are not asking them to buy us houses, we are only asking that the constitutional provision should be respected.”
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