Sat. Oct 23rd, 2021

Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq

Memo To National Judicial Council  By Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq, 

It is with a great sense of responsibility that I send you this memo. As I know you are no doubt aware, for over three weeks since the 6th of April 2021, the justice sector of this Country has been shut down by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) over State Governors’ failure or refusal to enforce financial autonomy for the judiciary. It is bad enough that the Governors disregard the Constitution as well as disobey order of Court. But it is more embarrassing that the judiciary is allowed to be shut down.

According to reports, the Union has a judgment of a Court of law directing the Governors to enforce the Constitutional provisions on the matter. So, what we are talking about is enforcement of judgment of a Court. 

Reports also have it that when the Union called out the workers nationwide, the CJN requested them to call off the strike and go back to work. Ordinarily, it is expected that such advice to the workers to go back to work should be followed up with calling stakeholders in the matter of enforcement of the judgment of Court to have it obeyed by the Governors without any further assurance. I do not believe that law can be stranded so however that we can go it by a strike action. But a later report has it that in a further response to the workers’ Union, the CJN, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad said: “I can’t fault your reasons for embarking on this protest because the union wants its rights restored in line with the provisions of the constitution. I commend you for following due process so far to protest against the injustice”.The report has it that the CJN said this during a meeting he had with JUSUN national leaders in Abuja. And that “A statement issued on Thursday by the Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the CJN, Ahuraka Isah, said the meeting was to give the CJN feedback on his recent demand on the union to call off the ongoing strike”. And so, for the whole month of April, the justice sector was shut down. And yet, there is no sign that a call-off of the strike is in sight. 

This is totally unacceptable. It is insulting not only of the office of the CJN, but of the entire legal profession. It smacks of inefficiency and dereliction of duty for the head to allow the entire justice system to be shut down for any reason save such as has to do with safety and security of lives of the Judges. Any other reason can be looked into any how. 

As a stakeholder in the justice sector, and an advocate of the supremacy of law, I verily believe that no serious and patriotic CJN will allow the justice sector over which he superintends to be shut down. I do not want to say here what irregularities are being perpetrated by some colleagues as a result of this to make ends meet. 

I also believe that if the circumstance was such that he did not know what to do, the CJN should have consulted all his Justices of the Court, if he could not call all the Chief Judges of all the States as well as of the Federal Capital Territory, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, President of the Court of Appeal and President of the National Industrial Court on what to do. 

One serious implication of allowing the judiciary to be shut down is the impression that after all the Country can run or be run without the judiciary. And such thinking is not beyond the politicians that constitute the other arms of Government. This is where the judiciary and the entire legal profession that have been in the limelight have been further demeaned. Before the situation degenerates into total chaos when members of the public will be taking to self-help, I think there is the urgent need for intervention. 

In the circumstance, I send the memo for consideration that Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad be removed from office on account of inefficiency and embarrassment of the office of the CJN.

Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq, Can Be Reached On -: +234 803 320 0595