By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
The indefinite strike action declared by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria- herein after referred to as JUSUN- has lasted for over eight weeks and it is still counting! The JUSUN had embarked on the strike action to compel financial autonomy of the judiciary on the Governors of States that have not complied with the said autonomy. There are therefore those persons who have supported the strike action and to them, the strike action is impeccable as it is the right action regardless of the consequences (as to them it is a ‘fight to finish’ once and for all battle) while there are others who criticize the strike action for its negative consequences and or impacts on the administration of justice, litigants and lawyers and to these persons, the strike action constitutes impediments to justice and progress of the nation. This paper is of the firm view that the strike action constitutes impediments to the progress of the nation and administration of justice and greatly affects the litigants and lawyers and this paper therefore objects and or opposes the view of those persons who view the strike action as impeccable as their view is (with due respect to them) nothing but selfish, lazy and ill-motived as well as anti-justice, while the common man continues to suffer!
First and foremost, I must state that it remains the truth that there is no justification for JUSUN’s continuous lock down of Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the autonomy for the judiciary! JUSUN must respect the democratic principles of Federalism and reverse and or suspend its strike action with immediate effect against the Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the autonomy for the judiciary! I must be assertive also that I am not appealing to JUSUN to suspend its strike action, rather, it is a matter of law which requires no appeal for JUSUN to halt its strike action against Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the autonomy for the judiciary! I have also viewed some self-centered views among lawyers and non-lawyers supporting the JUSUN’s strike action while the administration of justice, litigants and lawyers as well as common man continue to be made sacrificial lambs! Everyone must observe the presence of God Almighty in all that he does as one day very soon, God Almighty shall judge man’s deeds! Doing that which is right is the favour of the doer as well as doing that which is bad is the discredit of the doer and no man shall bear the punishment of other persons (according to my religious belief as a Muslim). We (as well as JUSUN) must check our intention! Are we acting on sentiments or tribalism or ethnicity or other ulterior-motives?! We must act for justice to prevail at all times!
It is very pathetic that some senior lawyers including the Nigerian Bar Association-herein after referred to as the NBA (with due respect to them) have not come down to feel the plights of lawyers in litigation and litigants who have continued to suffer innocently for the JUSUN’s unlawful and or misapplication of the strike action against those Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the financial autonomy for the judiciary! JUSUN has remained adamant and unyielding to the yearnings that it should suspend the strike action against Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the autonomy for the judiciary and in fact, generally! The government as well as the general public must also rise up to restrain JUSUN from its continued illegality and unlawfulness as well as its un-constitutionalism against Federal Courts, Courts of FCT-Abuja and Courts of States that have complied with the autonomy for the judiciary! JUSUN must understand that it is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for it to continue to fight for the compliance with a certain provision of the Constitution of Nigeria while at the same time, it commits unconstitutional acts in the pursuit of its desired goal, thereby denying other persons the enjoyment of their own constitutional rights, such act itself (in my humble view) is worse than its agitation for the financial autonomy of the judiciary because it aims at destroying the tenets and principles of Federalism enshrined and or propounded by democracy, if JUSUN must reason! The NBA has not been seen at the national level to have any pity, sympathy and interests of its own members at heart as it is proven by its absolute support for JUSUN (while its own members continue to suffer economically and socially) as an association of lawyers for the interests of others! It is indeed a great shame and very disappointingly despicable! The NBA would encourage its own members with whose moneys it survives and carry out its programmes (as a professional pressure group) to continue to ‘suffer and smile’ with fake hope and promises that the strike action would be called off ‘soon’! Very laughable indeed! Is it not?! Also, I have observed that some wealthy ones among lawyers refused to take care and or alleviate the impacts of the strike action on the vulnerable lawyers (regardless of the years of the vulnerable lawyers at the bar)! Yet, the wealthy ones inhumanly criticized the vulnerable lawyers against their criticism of the strike action on their just crawlingly surviving business despite having regard to the recent impacts of the covid-19 and the #endsars protest that left destructive effect on the economy of government and citizens as a whole! Some lawyers have also been made to have devised criminal and unprofessional ways of survival at this time! God forbid that things even get worse than they were before this acclaimed strike action by JUSUN! One thing that I am sure of is that God Almighty would not support the evil doers to achieve their aims! If JUSUN was sincere with its agitation upon which it has embarked on the strike action, all would be well but if JUSUN was not with sincerity, the ill-intention shall soon be exposed, that I know! More so, God Almighty that I know is a God of justice!
Finally, I therefore urge and call on the general public to prevail upon JUSUN to immediately suspend the strike action now and not later! Injustice to one is said to be an injustice to all! When a group of persons become just like a ‘stray-dog’ or a ‘stray-bullet’ going astray, it is very important to assist such persons by curbing it and or restraining it from any further going astray! Furthermore, if the NBA national leadership knows what its leadership roles even under its own constitution are, it would protect the interests of its own members (first before others and in this case, JUSUN)! Therefore, it is my final resolution that this ongoing JUSUN’s strike has constituted impediments rather than impeccability hence, it should immediately be called off!
Justice for all!