Courts, state assemblies may reopen next week


There are indications that courts, as well as state assemblies, would resume work next week as the 36 state governors have endorsed autonomy for the judiciary and state legislative bodies. 
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who stated this yesterday at a meeting with the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) in Abuja, said the state governors have agreed to grant financial autonomy to ensure that normal operations return.
The two unions have been on strike since March over the non-implementation of autonomy for state judiciary and legislature by the governors. 
Ngige stated that the meeting was convened to iron out grey areas in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) reached on May 20, 2021.

Ngige revealed that the 36 Governors led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and his Deputy, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, have put their pen on paper on behalf of their colleagues on the historic agreement they reached on May 20, 2021.

According to the minister, with what they achieved at yesterday’s meeting, it was expected that the courts and state assemblies would re-open next week since all the grey areas have been smoothened.

“So, today we met with the unions in a small dialogue to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in the agreement which we agreed will take effect from 20th of May.

“Right now, we expect the unions to go back to their members and give them a final briefing on what we have achieved today. And with this achievement of today, we are hopeful that by next week, the chambers of our courts and the doors of the state assemblies will be open for business activities to begin.”

Ngige said they were not oblivious of the fact that the situation has posed serious challenges to the nation, especially as the courts are closed and the law enforcement agencies have no place to take arrested criminals.

He, therefore, thanked the unions for all the efforts put in place in the final round of the dialogue in which the modalities that were not very clear the last time they met were sorted to the satisfaction of both sides. 

On his part, the Deputy President of JUSUN, Emmanuel Abisoye, thanked Ngige for his efforts in resolving the dispute, saying he expects all the parties to fulfill their part of the agreement.

Abisoye assured that JUSUN would play its part and expressed hope that the governors would do the needful to ensure that industrial harmony returns to the courts.

The President of PASAN, Mohammed Usman, expressed hope that all stakeholders would do the needful within the shortest possible period to see that the workers in the state legislatures return to work.
In the same vein, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, thanked all the parties for reaching the milestone.

“It is necessary to ensure that industrial harmony strives in this sector of our economy. It is important that this issue is put behind us,” Wabba said.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Secretary of the Implementation Committee for Judicial/Legislative Autonomy, Senator Ita Enang, said the country could not afford further closure of the courts and state assemblies having arrived at this stage.

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja

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