By Shola Akingboye 6th April 2021
Just as the Academic Union of Polytechnics began their indefinite strike today, Tuesday 5th 2021, the judicial employees affiliated with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have begun an indefinite nationwide strike, effectively shutting down the Supreme Court complex in Abuja and many others across the country.
The strike started on Tuesday, in response to their demands, which include financial autonomy for the government’s judicial branch.
The development came in violation of the Nigerian Bar Association’s call to call off the strike, claiming that it was untimely given the COVID-19 constraints that Nigerian courts have been dealing with for the past year.
Other Supreme Court employees returning from the Easter break were unable to enter the complex on Tuesday, as the two main judiciary institutions that share the same premises with the Supreme Court – the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) – were also impacted.
Staff buses were also seen taking a detour when they arrived at the Supreme Court’s barricaded entrance.
The court is situated in Abuja’s Three Arms Zone, which also houses the Presidential Villa and the National Assembly Complex.
Workers at both the NJC and the FJSC are members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), which represents all Nigerian judiciary workers at all levels, and are bound by the union’s strike call.
The union’s action in the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning is likely to be repeated in Nigerian courts nationwide.
JUSUN released a circular on April 1 announcing its strike, claiming that it was forced by the inability of the federal and state governments to enforce a Federal High Court judgment granting financial autonomy to the judicial branch 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,” the circular partly read.