The Federal Government on Monday put the blame for the ongoing nationwide industrial action embarked on by judiciary workers at the doorstep of the 36 state governors.
The striking workers, under the aegis of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUJ, grounded activities in the courts at all levels to a halt since January 5.
A statement by the Director (Information), Federal Ministry of Justice, Charles Nwodo, said the Federal Government had in no way contributed to the strike, which entered its second week on Monday.
It would be recalled that JUSUN had embarked on the nationwide strike following the failure of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, to honour an agreement stipulating that the implementation of the financial autonomy status of state judiciary would begin in December 2014.
The Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, was signed by stakeholders, including the Accountant General of the Federation and some JUSUN officials on November 27, 2014.
The MoU also directed a prompt compliance with the judgment delivered by a Federal High Court in Abuja on January 13, 2014, ordering the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct funds standing to the credit of judiciary in the Federation Account and disburse them to the various heads of court.
The finance ministry, in the statement on Monday, noted that the Federal Government was not in breach of the judgment which was delivered by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
It added that workers of federal courts were only on a solidarity strike with their state counterparts due to the failure of state governments to comply with the judgment.
The statement read in part, “That the Federal Government is not in breach or violation of the aforementioned judgment of the Federal High Court. This much has been publicly acknowledged by JUSUN in all their statements and deliberations;
“That the strike is actually directed at state governments that are yet to comply with the judgment; that federal courts are thus only on a sympathy strike with their state counterparts.
“The foregoing notwithstanding, the Supervising Minister of Labour and Productivity (Kabir Turaki), has been working assiduously with relevant stakeholders to resolve all the challenges that may have militated against the implementation of the judgment of the court.
“The Federal Government acknowledges the imperative of an efficient and effective judiciary to our democratic consolidation and is doing all that is within its constitutional powers to ensure full implementation of the judgment.
“We therefore call on all well-meaning Nigerians to appreciate the dynamics of the federal structure that Nigeria operates and the constitutional limits of the Federal Government when dealing with states, especially with respect to matters within their constitutional mandates”.
According to Nwodo, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation was worried about the strike even as he reiterated that the judgment by the court had ordered the funding of the judiciary to be in compliance with the provisions of sections 81(3), 121 (3) and 162 (9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
The statement read further, “The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice notes with concern the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria to press for the implementation of the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered on January 13, 2014 (Coram, A.F.A. Ademola ) in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13.
“The Federal Government reiterated that the judgment delivered by Justice Adeniyi Ademola in the suit with number, FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13, ordered that the amount standing to the credit of the states’ judiciary in the Federation/Consolidated Revenue Fund be paid directly to the Heads of Courts in the various states’ judiciary in compliance with the provisions of sections 81(3), 121 (3) and 162 (9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“This strike is unfortunate and has paralysed the activities of the judiciary throughout the federation. The Honourable Attorney- General of the Federation is however constrained to issue this statement in view of the misconceptions and insinuations in the print and electronic media concerning the strike and the efforts being made to address the implementation challenges posed by the judgment”.