Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) Messrs Femi Falana and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa have condemned announcement by Lagos chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) that it has partially reopened courts.
JUSUN Lagos said it had broken ranks with the national body and would be partially opening courts in the state on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays while continuing the nationwide strike on Mondays and Tuesdays.
It said this was in recognition of the Lagos State Government’s efforts to meet their demands on financial autonomy.
JUSUN on April 6 sealed all Federal and State court in enforcement of its indefinite nationwide strike over the non-implementation of judicial financial autonomy.
The strike is to press home JUSUN’s demand following a landmark High Court judgment of January 13, 2014 which confirmed the autonomy of the Judiciary in line with the Constitution.
The judgment was followed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between JUSUN and relevant stakeholders under which parties agreed to give effect to the judgment, but most state governments are yet to comply.
States have also ignored an Executive Order by President Muhammadu Buhari requiring them to obey the law.
But chairman of Lagos JUSUN, Shobowale Kehinde, said the branch had partially broken rank with the national union.
Kehinde, in a statement titled: ‘Addendum on strike Day 16’, said his members will partially resume work in view of the state government’s tireless efforts to ensure that the demands of the ongoing nationwide strike are met.
“Due to the great respect and honour Lagos state judiciary staff has for Mr Governor and the Chief Judge of Lagos State, it’s our desire only to relax the strike rules to allow clearance of backlogs, reading of judgment and decongestion of prisons occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and #EndSARS protest.
“Therefore work and official duties are constrained to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of every week while Monday and Tuesday of every week remains our strike days that all staff must stay off duty to observe the national strike.
“The union will review the progress both left and might to make informed decisions as event unfolds.
“Please let it be known that the staff of Lagos State Judiciary is still on strike but was magnanimous in putting Lagos Judiciary and the Government of Lagos State first in our time of strength.”
But Falana opposed the chapter’s decision in a TV programme on Thursday morning.
Adegboruwa also said the Lagos JUSUN announcement was unacceptable.
He said: “This purported partial call off of the strike action by Lagos JUSUN is absolutely unacceptable.
“From my records, the federal government is in compliance with financial autonomy even more than Lagos State, yet federal workers are on solidarity strike.
“I ask JUSUN….Who buys vehicles for judges and staff, is it not the executive? Why do we deceive ourselves?”
He accused the Lagos State Government of “doing so much to abort the strike action in the same fashion that it succeeded in dividing the NBA into executive sessions in State House Marina, instead of mass action.
“This is totally unacceptable, for Lagos State JUSUN. It is either you are on strike or you are not.”