The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is stepping up the pressure on states unwilling to implement judicial financial autonomy as demanded by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
It has directed the association’s chairmen nationwide to visit the Governors of the 36 states on Monday and demand implementation of judicial financial autonomy.
NBA President Mr Olumide Akpata, who stated this in a letter to lawyers on Friday night, said the Governors had shown no willingness to comply with the law and a judicial decision on the matter.
He said lawyers would visit the State Houses every Monday and present a written demand for implementation of judicial financial autonomy until the governors comply.
The letter was made available to The Nation by NBA Publicity Secretary Dr Rapulu Nduka.
JUSUN on April 6 sealed all Federal and State courts nationwide in the 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 spirit and letters of 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.
JUSUN said Friday that it would begin a nationwide protest on Monday.
Reacting to the impasse on Friday night, Akpata described the demand for financial autonomy as “legitimate, constitutional and is in the best interest of the Judiciary as it is one of the key parameters for enthroning independence of the Judiciary and fostering democracy.
He said with the recent actions and utterances of officials of some of the State Governments, “it has become apparent that most of the State Governments are not ready or willing to implement the constitutional provisions which grant financial autonomy to the Judiciary.
“After due consultations with several stakeholders, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that the NBA must take more decisive steps at this troubling moment. We must, as a body, act in consonance with the aims and objects of our Constitution, by effectively playing our role in the defence of the independence of the Judiciary which this fight for financial autonomy seeks to achieve.
“In view of the above, the Chairmen of all the branches of the NBA are hereby requested to effectively mobilize their members and pay visits to their respective State Governors at the Government Houses on Monday, 19th April 2021 to press home the demand for implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
“At the visit, NBA Branches in each State are to present a jointly written demand to their State Governor requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary.
“The Chairmen of the NBA Branches are further requested to ensure that these visits are embarked upon, every subsequent Monday until there is full compliance with this demand that is aimed at strengthening our democracy and the dispensation of justice.
“We trust that our members will give the leadership of their respective branches all the support that they require to achieve this much-needed victory for our justice system.”