Judiciary activities have been totally crippled in all magistrate and customary courts across Ondo State following the State government's refusal to pay staff members their salaries and its failure to implement an agreement reached with the union on financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The gates leading to the entrance of the courts were shut down while casual workers in the facilities were refused entry by the judiciary members of the union as a sign of protest against the State government.
A SaharaReporters correspondent at the scene observed that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) members have vowed not to resume work until the State government agrees to implement its agreement with the union regarding salaries and financial autonomy.
The JUSUN members in the State had on Monday issued a soft threat to paralyze all judiciary activities in the courts and began an indefinite strike.
Our correspondent reported that the long-term agitation of the protesting workers in the State was a response to the failure of the government of the embattled Governor Olusegun Mimiko to honor and implement an agreement reached with the JUSUN on financial autonomy for the members of the bench 2014.
Comrade Ilesanmi Dido, the Ondo State JUSUN chairman told SaharaReporters that the judiciary system under the present State government has collapsed.
Mr. Dido said the non-payment of judiciary workers' outstanding four months' salaries has further impoverished many of the workers.
He added that financial autonomy would have helped solve the shortage and dilapidated court rooms commonly found across all the courts in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State.
“We [JUSUN] members have vowed to shut down and paralyze activities at all the customary, magistrate and high courts in the State through an indefinite strike until the State government honors the agreement reached with the union in 2014,” the JUSUN chair added.
He explained that the JUSUN would no longer allow the government to continue to breach the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which grants financial autonomy to the judiciary.
“We [JUSUN] will no longer allow the present government of Governor Olusegun Mimiko to disobey the constitution which grants a financial autonomy to the members of the judiciary.
“This government has betrayed the trust of agreement it reached with our members in 2014 to implement the financial autonomy which stipulates that the judiciary should be independent of its own affairs.
"If he [Mimiko] had implemented the Memorandum of Understanding on financial autonomy for the members of the judiciary, all judges and workers would not have been owed any salaries accumulating into four months,” he said.
One of the protesting union members told SaharaReporters that the implication of not implementing and granting the financial autonomy to the judiciary means that the judiciary will always be in the hands of the executive government of any State.