By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—Scores of litigants and their lawyers went home disappointed yesterday, following the indefinite industrial action by the Imo State leadership of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN.
The aggrieved workers downed tools as a result of what they termed “the apparent unwillingness of Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, to comply with the ruling of the Federal High Court judgment on the financial autonomy of the judiciary”.
According to the release by the leadership of the body, JUSUN explained their action stemmed from the State Government’s inability to respond to legitimate demands.
In declaring the indefinite industrial action, the union directed “all the offices of the courts and the State Judicial Service Commission, to remain under lock and key, until further notice”.
When Vanguard visited the State High Court premises, Owerri, at about 10am yesterday, the judicial workers completely deserted their offices, while the litigants were seen in groups bemoaning their plight.
One of the lawyers, who spoke to Vanguard on strict grounds of anonymity, lamented that “the indefinite industrial action would further worsen the bad situation in Imo Judiciary”.
According to the lawyer, “the courts are currently congested due to lack of adequate number of judges to adjudicate over the numerous matters”, adding that even those awaiting trial would simply remain in jail, until the labour crisis was resolved.
Meanwhile, the State House of Assembly was locked up yesterday by the aggrieved workers, over their five months arrears of salaries and allowances.
The workers, who were acting on the umbrella union of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, appealed to the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, to intervene on their behalf.
They told the Archbishop that their pains were excruciating and wondered why the governor was threatening to transfer them, not just away from the Assembly, but into the rural communities as punishment.
All efforts to get the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, to speak on the matter failed, as his line could not be reached before press time.