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Controversy trails judicial workers’ strike in Edo State




WITH the strike by judicial workers in Edo State entering its sixth month over their demand for autonomy of that third arm of government, there is confusion as to the sincerity of the workers with allegations that some senior officials of the judiciary were orchestrating the strike.

Though the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Henry Idahagbon, defended the Bench by denying such allegation, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) under its state chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, at the weekend alleged that some senior members of staff were using the worker as tools, describing the situation as painful and pathetic.

Ademokun insisted: “I will say that the heads of courts are using them; those who are using them are getting their salaries as at when due; all judges, registrars and magistrates all are being paid as when due. Government is not owing them, but the common workers are being used as tools. That is my pain and that is pathetic.

It was gathered that the state government might wield its big stick if erring senior court officials are found to be complicit.

Idahagbon however, said yesterday: “That is not correct. There is no way judges and magistrates will benefit from the strike,” adding that magistrates in the lower courts in the state have begun sitting despite the lingering strike action by JUSUN (Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria) members.

The judicial workers have been at home over the refusal of the state government to implement a court verdict granting it autonomy. It was alleged that some of the senior officials of the judicial arm of government are allegedly working secretly with key leaders of JUSUN in the state to ensure that the state government bows to their pressure.

Efforts by the leadership of the NLC in the state to bring the government and executive members of JUSUN to a round table to resolve the impasse seemed to have collapsed as both sides have refused to shift ground on the contentious issue.

There is anxiety within government circles in the state over a verdict to be delivered on Tuesday (tomorrow) by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in the suit filed by state chapter of JUSUN seeking the order of the court for a garnishee on the account of the state government to be paid directly to banks of the state judiciary.

The workers are praying for an order of the court that N1.6 billion monthly from the allocation accruing to the state from the Federation Account be paid to the judicial arm of government in the state.

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