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Govs promise implementation of financial autonomy as JUSUN suspends strike

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National Treasurer, Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Comrade Jimoh Alonge (right), addressing members during their peaceful protest at the Court of Appeal in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has agreed to fully implement financial autonomy for state judiciary and legislature by next month.

Its chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, gave the assurance yesterday after he led members to a meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the State House, Abuja.

THIS came as the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) suspended its 13-day-old protest over the issue.

Addressing newsmen, the Ekiti State governor noted that all stakeholders were on same page, as an agreement had been reached on modalities for implementation.

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“There has been no objection from governors on judicial and legislative autonomies,” he said.

“So, that issue has been fully and holistically addressed. But we don’t just want to agree to something on paper without working out the modalities for implementation.

“Thankfully, the meeting we have just emerged from, with the Chief of Staff to the President chairing, has worked out the modalities to the satisfaction of all parties,” Fayemi added.

He said the document was being cleaned up preparatory to the take-off.

“As soon as the final document that is being cleaned up emerges, the implementation will definitely not be later than the end of May 2021.

He appealed to the striking workers to return to their offices.

On the contentious N60 billion currency printing, the forum said its silence was deliberate.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, JUSUN’s National Chairman, Comrade Marwan Alonge, said the decision to call off the demonstration followed a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.

Represented by the National Treasurer, Comrade Jimoh Alonge, he stated: “We had met with the Minister of Labour and Employment where he promised to meet with the governors and get back to us. But the day we were to meet, the meeting was postponed indefinitely.”

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Noting that the alleged indifference informed the protest, Alonge added that the action was to be taken to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and others to unravel reasons behind the non-compliance with the Executive Order 10 signed by President Muhammad Buhari.
Earlier, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, had flayed the governors for holding back implementation of the law.

He spoke while reacting to the now suspended JUSUN strike when the protesters stormed the National Assembly complex yesterday.

“It is laughable that that at this point, we are still grappling with the need to grant independence to the judiciary arm of government at the state level and local governments level,” Opeyemi had said.

Prior to the new developments, the Oyo State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had urged Governor Seyi Makinde to give vent to the presidential order.

Its chairman, Olayinka Esan, made the appeal when he led members to the governor’s office in Ibadan where he stressed that the court needed to be re-opened as soon as possible.

Also speaking, Governor Nyesom Wike said the judiciary has been enjoying full financial autonomy in Rivers, hence the industrial action was unnecessary in the state.
He ventilated while addressing members of the NBA who visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt.

In Edo, security operatives barred lawyers from the five branches of the NBA operating in the state from entering the Government House, Benin City.

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Led by Chairman of the Benin branch of the association, Pius Oiwoh, they had gone to submit their letter to Governor Godwin Obaseki for financial autonomy for the judiciary.

Before the suspension, the Delta State Forum of Branch Chairmen of the NBA had joined the remonstration.

The placard-carrying protesters, led by their chairman, Chief Emmanuel Uti, were at the Government House gate as early as 8.30am.

Same was the situation in Abia, where the chapter JUSUN marched on major streets in Aba and Umuahia in respect of the financial independence.

In Lagos, the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) solidarised with the demonstrators.

In a statement by the National Chairperson and National Publicity Secretary, Comrades Rufus Olusesan and Chinedu Bosah, the group regretted that the strike, which began on April 6, 2021, had paralysed the courts and the entire judicial system.

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