Judiciary workers in Nigeria have shut down the Supreme Court in the nation’s capital Abuja, in protest for financial autonomy for the arm of government.
The protest which commenced on Tuesday comes as a resistance to the last-minute appeal by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to the workers to shelve the industrial action.
According to the NBA, the action is ill-timed considering the COVID-19 constraints Nigerian courts had been battling in the last year.
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had in a circular on April 1, 2021, directed all its states and zonal heads to comply with the strike from Tuesday.
The circular signed by the union’s general secretary, I. M. Adetola, stated that the strike was necessitated by the failure of the federal and state governments to implement a judgement of the Federal High Court, which granted financial autonomy to the judicial arm of government.
The union stated that it had at its last National Executive meeting on March 13, 2021, in Abuja, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary with a threat that “failure of which JUSUN will have no other option but to resume the suspended national strike action.”
“Therefore, as a result of the public holiday on April 5, 2021, the strike action has been postponed to Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
“You are directed to shut down courts/departments in your states until further notice from the National Secretariat of JUSUN in Abuja,” the circular read.
Reports suggest that at about 7 am, the gate was locked leaving workers who intended to resume duties after the Easter holiday stranded.
Workers of other two key judiciary institutions – the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) – which share the same premises with the Supreme Court are also affected.
Staff buses were also seen making a detour upon arriving at the barricaded gate of the Supreme Court.
Workers of both the NJC and the FJSC are part of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the umbrella body of all judiciary workers at all levels in the nation, and are also bound by the strike declared by the union.
The action taken by the union at the Supreme Court Tuesday morning is expected to be replicated across all Nigerian courts.