Legal Nigeria

Court may summon chief judge, JSC over Osun JUSUN strike

he National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Ibadan may summon the Osun State Chief Judge Justice Adepele Ojo and the state Judicial Service Commission if respondents in an originating summon suit filed by Chief Gboyega Awomolo (SAN) decide to apply for the purpose.

The proposal was put forward by Awomolo’s counsel, Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN), during a hearing on Monday, February 26.

The senior lawyer initiated legal action against the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), its leaders in Osun State, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, as well as the Commissioner of Police in the state, over the ongoing indefinite strike by union workers

This strike, which commenced on November 22 last year, has brought judicial activities in the state to a standstill.

The aggrieved workers embarked on an indefinite strike over the unlawful suspension of five of its members by the Chief Judge; stoppage of staff training since 2015; inadequate implementation of staff promotion, advancement and regularization; non-payment of wardrobe allowance as well as poor working conditions and maintenance of court infrastructures.

According to JUSUN in the state, the five members were suspended for periods running into 57 months and 46 months respectively with all efforts to recall them proving abortive, even after two of them tried for criminal offences had been discharged and acquired by a magistrate court.

Awomolo, who is a former commissioner for Justice in the state, in his originating summons, dated January 30, 2024 is seeking a declaration that JUSUN and its leaders at the time lacked the power to declare and maintain the industrial action because of a combined interpretation of Sections 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act 1976 read in conjunction with Sections 4 and 6 of the Trade Dispute Act 1976, Section 31(6) of the Trade Union Act 2005 and Rule 29 (1), (II), (III) (IV) of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (Amended Constitution 2016).

He is also seeking a declaration that the strike was unconstitutional, null and void.

He is praying to the court for an order of mandatory injunction compelling them to call off the industrial action and direct JUSUN workers to resume work having paralyzed judicial activities in the state since November 22, 2023.

He is also praying for an order directing the state’s Attorney General “to ensure, facilitate and maintain reopening and continued function of the Judiciary of Osun State by doing all that the Government of Osun State is expected under the law; and an order directing the Commissioner of Police to provide security for Osun State Judiciary workers to ensure full compliance with the order and judgment of the court.”

While moving the motion on the originating summons on Monday, Adenipekun (SAN) said the 3rd and 4th respondents had not been properly served. He asked the court to give a date to hear the originating summons, adding that the 3rd and 4th defendants would have been properly served before then.

However, Mr Musibau Adetunbi (SAN) who is the counsel to the second defendant and the immediate past chairman of JUSUN in the state, Comrade Kunle Eludire, called Adenipekun’s attention to a memorandum of agreement dated February 16, 2024, which was signed by the Osun State Government, National Executive Council and Osun State branch of JUSUN as well as Osun State Judiciary as a move to end the crisis.

Adetumbi said contrary to what the claimant wants to impress on the court that the Osun State Government refused to sign the agreement to call off the strike, the state government has fulfilled all the resolutions in the agreement except recalling the five staff, which is not its purview.

Source: Nation