NBA disagrees with Wike over implementation of judicial autonomy, issues 24-hour ultimatum to CJ

Tina Amanda

Governor Nyesom Wike says the state government is implementing judicial financial autonomy and will not support any strike embarked upon by judicial workers in the state.

Governor Wike who stated this when Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, staged a protest to the government house, explained that the strike in the state is not justified because the state government has lived to his responsibility to judicial workers.

“I am surprised that for the first time NBA is going on protest, my state is not a second state. I will not agree. When the court was shut for how many years you couldn’t go on protest.

“We are implementing, if we are not implementing then JUSUN has the right to go on strike, but if one state is implementing and other states are not, and you go on strike for solidarity, it does not make any sense, except I will withdraw the implementation. I can not be implementing, then you are going on strike.

“Please tell JUSUN to come back to work, if they don’t come back to work me too I will stop implementing the financial autonomy so that the strike will be justified. For now, I am doing what the constitution said I should do”.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar association in the state has said it will interface with the Chief judge of the state, Iyaye Laminkara to confirm the state government’s claim that it has been implementing the judiciary financial autonomy.

Chairman, Port Harcourt branch of the NBA, Prince Onyekwere, who stated this immediately after a protest in solidarity with the Judiciary staff union of Nigeria maintained that they are not aware of Judiciary financial autonomy implementation in the state.

He however noted that if eventually the statement of the Governor is confirmed, JUSUN Rivers State can not call off the strike as the Union is obeying national directives.

“We visited the government house and the Governor told us that he has been implementing the judiciary financial autonomy, the statement will be heard by JUSUN and Chief Judge of the state because they are in the position to confirm it.

“We have no reason to doubt the Governor because we do not have any evidence to the contrary, we would interface with the CJ for her to confirm the statement.

“Financial autonomy as provided in section 1213 of the 1999 constitution says that money standing to the credit of the Judiciary in the consolidated revenue account should be paid directly to the head of the court and section 1213 is in respect of state court.

“Section 81 deals with the federal court, it means that the money should be paid to heads of court for the judiciary to spend and provide what they need. What we see is a situation where the State executives still buy cars for the Judges, build houses for them.

“The Governor said he has gone above the financial autonomy, perhaps this needs an explanation. What we want is to let the finances meant for the judiciary not be released as though anybody is doing the judiciary a favour, give them what belongs to them.

“What has happened here today leaves the judiciary headed by the Chief Judge and the JUSUN to react whether or not that implementation is in respect to the constitutional provisions.”

Also, the Chairman of the Eastern Bar Forum, Soseipiriye Long Williams who spoke to our correspondent, said the Chief Judge of the state must address them on the implementation of the Judiciary financial autonomy.

“We are surprised and shocked to hear that judiciary financial autonomy is being implemented in the state by the Governor, the Chief Judge of the state has questions to answer.

“If Rivers State has been implementing the financial autonomy, why has the CJ not told us till now?. They allowed JUSUN to go on strike, they kept us out of work and penury of which we would have known how to tackle JUSUN to call off the strike.

“The crucial question is, why is the executive arm of the state still buying cars, building houses for judges. We do not believe the story, because if Rivers State judiciary is autonomous, have physical independence, the state government will not be doing that.

“We give the Chief Judge 24 hours to come and address us why she is still collecting gift items from the executive arms of government when the Governor has been implementing physical autonomy in the state.”