By Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
The Delta Chapters of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) have vowed to sustain protests until the state the government meet their demand.
The three unions, which staged a peaceful protest to the Government House on Monday in Asaba, demanded full implementation of autonomy for the judiciary.
The unions said that they would stage a comeback on Monday, April 26, should Governor Ifeanyi Okowa fail to respond to their demand.
The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions such as; Disobedience of the Constitution is corruption; Obey court judgment on financial autonomy.
Others inscriptions conspicuously displayed included, Don’t gag the judiciary, implement financial autonomy; implement section 121 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Addressing the protesters at the Government House, Mr Austin Chiejina, State JUSUN Chairman, said their request was simple and just for state government to fully implement the judicial autonomy as enshrined in the constitution.
He said that the two weeks old strike had impacted the people negatively as the courts were currently closed to the general public and for those seeking justices.
He, however, insisted that the strike would go on until the governor makes financial commitment to the head of the courts, adding that they have had failed promises.
“We are here on a peaceful protest and to bring before the government the constitutional provision that says funds accruing to judiciary should be paid to the head of courts.
“This is provided for in the constitutions sections 121, this by its nature do not require any action by the governor to act on them, it is constitutional.
“We shall review the strike situation but until the governor releases the first tranche of the financial commitment to the head of the courts, the situation may not change from what we have now,” Chiejina said.
Mr Oghenerhaboke Penn, former State Chairman, PASAN, described the current situation as a misnomer for the judiciary and the legislature to continue to seek approval from the executive before carrying out their duties.
“Our request is simple, just for the state governor to implement the financial autonomy as passed by the National Assembly.
“The president issued executive order No. 10, last year demanding that governors implement the financial autonomy for both the judiciary and the legislature in the states.
“It is a misnomer for the judiciary and the legislature to seek the executive approval before doing their things,” he said
On its part, the NBA who had thrown its weight on JUSUN said until the governor addressed the issue, the strike would subsist.
Mr Emmanuel Uti, the Chairman, NBA Warri, who led the lawyers association in the state to the protests said Judicial autonomy would enhance the rule of law.
He insisted that should the governor delay to address the issue, that the protesters would come in greater number to block the government house gate in Asaba next Monday.
“It is the absence of financial autonomy that is the cause of poor service delivery in the judiciary,” he said.
Receiving the protest letters, Mr David Edevbie, the Chief of Staff Government House, told JUSUN and PASAN that the governor would receive, act on their request and send feedback to them shortly.
On his part, the Attorney-General and also Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Mrakpor, who received the lawyers in company of his counterparts in Energy, Mr Basil Ganagan and Chief Arthur Akpowhowho of Urban Renewal, assured the lawyers of Gov. Okowa’s commitment to rule of law.