THE JUSUN STRIKE : MY TAKE
JUSUN has raised a very important issue as a reason for their industrial action. It has indicated that it is striking for purpose of facilitating the implication of the fiscal autonomy of the Nigerian judiciary ,which invariably will positively impact on the Independence and impartiality of the judiciary. This is very thoughtful and commendable of the judiciary staff union. I appreciate their gesture.
Denying the judiciary the fiscal autonomy by neglecting to implement it is a breach of the constitution on the part of the executive arm of the government. The constitution having made clear provisions for fiscal autonomy the executive truly has no choice than to implement it’s terms. They swore to protect and promote the Constitution .Failing to do so is a dereliction of duty. To further pretend that such provisions do not exist and continue to dispense or meddle with the funds of the judiciary is constitutionally criminal . If our judiciary will be independent then their fiscal autonomy must have exist in practice as in theory.
Having said the judiciary autonomy issue is not enough reason for any prolonged strike action or indeed any industrial action at all. Having made the point the union should call of the strike as soon as possible.
The reason is that continuing the strike is bound to have very adverse effects on the judicial system. Many persons whose rights have been or would be infringed may resort to self help. Some are already perishing in correctional facilities. Shutting the courts will work hardship against them and preclude them from enjoying their constitutional rights.
We are just trying to come out of the Covid 19 backlog with all it’s attendant judiciary setbacks. Prolonging this strike one day more will smack of insensitivity , especially given that the courts in many states are still struggling to cope with their case backlogs.
I do honestly hope that there is no political attachment to this strike and that it is not a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.
If this is not the case, as it sometimes is ,then let the union sheath their sword as soon as possible. I dare say that the people whose attention they are trying to get are likely not interested. There is therefore no need to punish the already crawling masses
What one may recommend as a panacea is that the legislature should rise up to protect the Constitution by taking the executive to task on the issue. That is safeguarded by the principle of checks and balances under the constitution. If the executive refuses to comply with the constitution as it relates to implementation of fiscal autonomy and impeachable offence has arisen. When a president or governor gets impeached for the non-implementation of fiscal autonomy there will definitely be a paradigm shift as other executive officers will learn their lessons and comply. If however the legislature fails to act by calling the executive to order the people should recall the law makers. If the people do not have the will or are not prepared to cause their Leaders to sit up then they should not complain any more of anomaly.
By Angus Obinna Chukwuka – Constitutional Lawyer. He writes from Port Harcourt