By Ovatomi Ibingha
A Calabar based legal practitioner, Barrister James Iwara Ofem has dragged the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to the Federal High Court, Calabar over the prolonged strike by members of the union which has seen the courts remain shut for months.
The strike which the union say is to ensure the enforcement of the January 13, 2014 court judgment between the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria versus the National Judicial Council and 73 others has crippled activities in the courts since late last year.
Also joined in the suit are Asanya Ebong, Emma Okon Asuquo as well as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Cross River State.
In a suit number FHC/CA/CS/67/2015 between Bar. James Iwara Ofem (Claimant) and the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, Attorney General of Cross River State and others, Ofem posited that it was wrong for the union to use strike as an instrument to force government to implement the court judgment.
Ofem is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 3rd and 4th Defendant from continuation of the said strike whether by themselves, their agents, servants, privies through any other self-help method aimed at enforcing the said judgment unless the law courts are activated to enforce same.
Barrister James Ofem, further explained that as a law abiding citizen of Nigeria undertaking his lawful legal practice, he and his clients were directly affected by the continuous strike action embarked upon by JUSUN.
The claimant stated thus; “I am interested in this matter because I am an innocent victim of the ill consequences of the said strike which has paralyzed my practice as a litigation lawyer in the law firm of James I. Ofem and Associates at No.32 Target Road, Calabar and 53 Ikom/Calabar Highway Ugep both in Cross River State.
It would be recalled that the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) embarked on the said strike due to failure on the side of the government to obey the court judgment obtained from the Federal High Court, Abuja with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/667/13.
In the said judgment, the court declared that “A declaration is hereby made that the 2nd-74th Defendants’ failure, neglect and refusal to pay the Funds/Amount standing to credit of States Judiciary in the Federation/Consolidated Revenue Fund directly to the Heads of Courts in the various States Judiciary is a constitutional breach which has to be abated forthwith.
“That an order is hereby made that the piece-meal payments/allocations of funds through the States Ministry of Finance to the states Judiciary at the 2nd-74th Defendants pleasure, is unconstitutional, unprocedural, cumbersome, null, void and be abated forthwith.
“That an order is hereby made mandating/compelling the 2nd-74th Defendants to comply with the provisions of sections.”
The union insist that these declarations of the court must be complied with before their members can resume work.
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