By Bayo Akinlade Esq (Convener FIACIJ)
One positive thing about the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN is that they have always been in the forefront of fighting for the independence of the Judiciary. We may not like most of them who give the Judiciary a bad image especially with regards corruption but let’s face it, we are all guilty of the corruption that takes place within the Judiciary.
Now that the NBA, for the first time in a long time, reacted to a looming strike by JUSUN, it is the right time to interrogate the reason for the strike.
Let’s be practical, the Judiciary has been delibrately under funded just like any other institution that has an important role to play in the empowerment of citizens. (Nigerian Medical Association on my mind)
The Judiciary unlike the legislative arm of Government and some agencies of the Executive actually generate money for the government but what do these lawyers (Judges and Magistrates) get in return? They are overworked, underpaid and not appreciated at all.
Let us look at Lagos State which is still the best example. Many of our Magistrates are still yet to get cars. Imagine a magistrate who is over 20 years post call driving a car given to them over 10 years ago. What kind of punishment is that? Many of the Magistrates go to their courts with public transport, rent apartments etc exposing them and their families to all sorts of dangers while their counterparts in the Executive and Legislative arms of Government are living large.
The NBA has largely been politicized and cannot look beyond its 2-year ceremonial existence where we run conferences and do elections.
Litigation lawyers despise their colleagues on the Bench and the Bench equally undermines the relevance of the NBA (with good reason)
The bottom line is that the Judiciary, NBA and JUSUN must work together to deal with the intrusion into the Judiciary.
The independence of the Judiciary is non-negotiable and I support JUSUN in their position and it is my strong opinion that each NBA Branch must step up their advocacy in ensuring that the Judiciary gains its independence.