The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, has suspended its strike action that has paralyzed judicial activities across the federation for over two months.
The strike was called off after a meeting between JUSUN executives and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.
JUSUN embarked on strike on April 6, ordering its members across the federation to shut all courts in the country to press home its demand for implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.
Ever since then, court activities have been paralyzed even as cases requiring judicial attention increased.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on May 22, 2020, signed into law, an Executive Order that granted financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.
Although the order mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source, any amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state, for states that refuse to comply with the Executive Order, many governors have refused to implement the order in their various states, denying JUSUN the financial autonomy they seek.
Now, the suspension of the strike which comes at the heels of Nigerian government’s ban on Twitter, opens opportunity for the courts to entertain the case.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, and 176 concerned Nigerians had on Tuesday, filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari-led -administration over what it called, “the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalization of Nigerians and other people using Twitter.
The suit was filed at ECOWAS because of the JUSUN strike. Counsel to the group, Femi Falana, SAN, said the matter needs to be urgently treated to stop the Nigerian government from threatening media houses and Nigerians for using Twitter.
“If this application is not urgently granted, the Federal Government will continue to arbitrarily suspend Twitter and threaten to impose criminal and other sanctions on Nigerians, telecommunication companies, media houses, broadcast stations and other people using Twitter in Nigeria, the perpetual order sought in this suit might be rendered nugatory,” he said.
The Nigerian government had on Friday, announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter, after the microblogging app removed a civil war-referenced tweet by president Muhammadu Buhari, which violated its policy as it was considered genocidal.
With the courts on strike, it’s difficult for right activists to challenge the Twitter suspension which violates the constitution of Nigerians to freedom of expression.
For about 40 million Nigerian Twitter users, many of whom make a living on Twitter, JUSUN’s strike suspension beckons hope that the court will grant their prayer, which has been backed by the international community, and lift the suspension.