JUDICIARY workers in Edo State who have been on strike since January 5, 2015 have, for the second time, defied a directive by the state Judicial Service Commission, ordering them to return to work or face outright dismissal from service. The workers described the order as laughable.
The workers, under the aegis of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, have been on strike over what they described as the unwillingness of the state government to implement the financial autonomy granted to the judiciary by a Federal High Court in June, 2014, as well as the non-payment of their July, 2014, and January, 2015 salaries.
The Edo State Judicial Commission had in a statement by its secretary, Isaac Sanu, on Tuesday in Benin, ordered judiciary workers to report for duty at 8a.m., on June 10, or risk being considered “as having been dismissed from the service,” nearly a month after it issued a similar directive.
“The Edo State Judicial Service Commission, at its meeting on June 9, decided that all judiciary workers should report for duty at 8a.m., on June 10, 2015. Any worker who fails to report for duty as has been specified, should consider himself/herself as having been dismissed from the service,“ Mr. Sanu had said in a circular.
But a visit to the Federal High Court Complex on Sapele Road in Benin, revealed that while the main gates to the complex were thrown open before security operatives, many of the judiciary employees were seen gathered in clusters outside the complex.
The state chairman of the union, Uyi Ogieriakhi, accused the commission of resorting to “self-help,” rather than adopting “proper means” to address the issues, even when it was a major beneficiary of the autonomy.
“It is laughable. As you can see, none of our workers has come to work. I advise the Judicial Service Commission to take proper means to resolve the issues, rather than resorting to self-help to call workers back to work.
“What we are fighting for is even for the benefit of the JSC and it is very unfortunate that a system that is supposed to protect legality is the one perfecting illegality.”