Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says the judiciary enjoys full financial autonomy in the State, hence, the industrial action embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is not necessary in the State.
Governor Wike said it is unfortunate that judiciary workers in the State despite enjoying financial autonomy still shut the courts in what they called solidarity with other states.
A report by Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant (Media) to the Rivers State Governor, disclosed that Governor Wike made the condemnation while addressing members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), who were on solidarity protest in support of financial autonomy for the judiciary, to Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday, April 19, 2021.
“What’s the reason, as far as this state is concerned, for JUSUN to go on strike? Is it because their national head office asked them to do so?
“Go and ask the judiciary in this state if any money meant for them is not given to them, even beyond that. So, we are implementing financial autonomy.
“If another state is not implementing, why should Rivers State have to suffer simply because some states are not implementing financial autonomy.”
Governor Wike, also expressed surprised at NBA that they could protest over such issues because they were numb between 2013 and 2015, when the courts where shut in Rivers State by the immediately past administration.
The governor also wondered the essence of NBA’s protest when they know that there is already full implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary by his administration.
“I am surprised that, for the first time, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) is coming on to protest. When the courts were shut down, (from 2013 to May 2015) they couldn’t go on protest.
“Again, you have said here that you’re protesting because of what you fear could happen when I leave office, on whether my successor will continue to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary.
“Why not wait until then and protest if the person (successor) is not implementing it. What do you want me to do with the person who is coming after me, to compel him to do what?
“This protest is useless, as far as this state is concerned. You have no reason. I challenged anybody on it. Tell your President, they should name those states that are not implementing it and tell judiciary workers in those states to go on strike against them not here.”
Chairman of Port Harcourt Branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Prince Nyekwere, who spoke on behalf of the group, said lawyers have been shut out of work for three weeks due to the JUSUN strike.
“Let us place on record, that we are aware that in our own judiciary, you have created an enabling environment. You have made provisions for the judiciary. In short, the Rivers State Judiciary cannot be compared to any other judiciary in the country.
“But your Excellency, we are afraid what happens with successive governors when you leave office. They may not be inclined as you are in ensuring the independence of the judiciary.”
Writing on his verified social media handles, Governor Wike said:
Today I addressed members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) who were on a solidarity protest with the striking Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) concerning financial autonomy for the Judiciary.
My position concerning the JUSUN strike in Rivers State is simple. Rivers State has (been) painstakingly implementing financial autonomy for the State’s Judiciary. We shouldn’t suffer solidarity strikes because other states are not implementing same.
Non implementing states can be held to task but there is really no reason for a solidarity strike or protest in Rivers State, I used the opportunity to request for Rivers State’s JUSUN to call off the strike and open the courts in Rivers State.
If another state is not implementing financial autonomy why should Rivers State suffer for it ?