The Federal Government Monday appealed to the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to suspend their nationwide industrial action, which has paralysed activities in courts across the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige made this appeal in his office at a conciliation meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of JUSUN.
Ngige reminded the judicial workers that like doctors and nurses, they were on essential duties and should not go on strike.
According to Ngige, the country cannot make progress economically and socially, when the laws of the country are not enforced.
He said, “You are important people and that is why we waited to see if there could be an in-house conciliation with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) but since progress was not made, we decided to exercise our mandate here as Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Grant us peace and we are going to handle this matter in a way that doesn’t lose sight of what you are pursuing. I will do a report on this meeting and forward to the President when returns.
“I will make a commitment here. The Executive Order 10 and its application, granting autonomy to the Judiciary which is topmost on your demand will be tackled because it is a constitutional issue. Even Governors owe their office to the constitution. You don’t pick and choose the what to obey . However, we must handle this matter with maturity and utmost patriotism ,” Ngige said.
He urged the striking judicial workers to resume work so that when the judicial officers return from Easter holidays, they would not meet the strike.
“We are apprehending this dispute in line with the labour laws of the country. You people are judicial workers and if any group of people will break the laws of the land, it should not be you. Even if we disagree here, we will certainly agree later on one thing, which is to call off the strike.”
Also speaking, the President of JUSUN, Comrade Marwan Mustafa said they were guided by the Constitution of the country in their action , stressing that democracy has to thrive on the Rule of Law.
Mustafa said, “The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a Federation and is guided by a Constitution. However, we observed that the particular provision of the constitution that grants financial autonomy to the judiciary has never been obeyed as much as it should be, particularly Section 21(3) and Section 81(3).
“Having agitated for so long for the needful to be done and it is not done, we went to court and got a judgment before 2014.We are patient. We are not lawless people because we work in a sector where the Rule of Law guides our operation. But to our amazement since we went on strike in 2015, the government seems not to hear us until now.”
Mustafa said they believe so strongly that anything could happen without the Rule of Law “and when there is the law of nature, life could be poor, solitary, brutish and nasty.”
Also at the meeting were the representatives of the Solicitor General of Nigeria, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Eta Enang.
The meeting agreed to reconvene on Thursday.