31st January, 2015
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has suspended its eight-month strike in Rivers state.
National Publicity Secretary of the union, Comrade Kayode Igbarago, declared this today, in Port Harcourt, and directed their members in the state to resume work on Monday, February 2, 2015.
Igbarago, during the briefing, warned that the judiciary workers in the state should not be victimised for embarking on the industrial action.
He stated that the decision to call off the strike, which had been under the supervision and control of the National Secretariat since July 9, 2014, was the outcome of National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held on Monday, January 26, this year, at the Supreme Court, Abuja, where the decision was reached.
“The national body has after careful investigation been convinced that the state branch has not compromised the struggle in any form. Furthermore, after careful and exhaustive deliberation, NEC considered the assurances and commitments made by various security agencies in the provision of adequate security in and around the court premises in Rivers State, which was at a point in time a target of violent attacks. These attacks had sent unimaginable fear and tension to the minds of the court workers and other court users,” he said.
He noted that: “The interest and intervention of various stakeholders, particularly Rivers State government, who have made themselves available in virtually all the meetings, the NBA, both at the national and state levels, who have been committed in facilitating the various meetings, the NLC, Civil rights groups. Senator (Dr.) Cyrus Nunieh-led Mediatory Committee and others were also considered.
“Consequently, the strike embarked upon by the Rivers State branch of JUSUN, which has been under the supervision and control of the national body is hereby suspended with immediate effect”.
He continued: “We hereby direct all our members to resume work on Monday, February 2, 2015. Furthermore, it was resolved that no staff or member of the Union shall be victimized as a result of the industrial action.
“We, therefore, use this medium to call on relevant stakeholders to take advantage of this gesture and see to the immediate resolution of the crises rocking the Rivers State Judiciary.
“We also urge our members to remain resolute to the struggle, while we appreciate all, who have in one way or the other assisted in the facilitation of the resolution of the crises”, he said.
Reacting to the suspension of the strike, chairman of JUSUN, Rivers State branch, Comrade Sokari George, described is as a welcome development, adding that, the announcement came as a surprise to their members.
It would be recalled that one of the reasons for embarking on the strike is due to the crisis between the state government and National Judicial Commission (NJC).
The state government nominated and recognised Justice Peter Agumagu, as the state Chief Judge while the NJC, backed by the Presidency insisted on Justice Daisy Okocha. Okocha is the most senior Judge in the state High Court, while Agumagu is the president of the state customary court and most senior judge in the state judiciary.
The state government took the matter to court but NJC slammed a suspension on Agumagu for refusing to obey the NJC to step aside for Okocha.
In the midst of the confusion, the state government stated judiciary workers who took directives from Justice Okocha risk being sacked by the Rivers State Judiciary Commission.
As a middle ground the state government, through the State House of Assembly amended the Rivers High Court law, which directed that in absence of a substantive Chief Judge to assign cases, the Chief Registrar should assign cases to judges.
Judiciary workers is state said in the midst of the confusion of whose directive to obey: NJC or state Judicial Commission, they had to embark on indefinite strike.