Abia: Judiciary workers’ strike forces relocation of election petition tribunal to Abuja
The ongoing strike by Judiciary workers has forced all five election petition tribunals sitting in Abia to relocate to Abuja.
This was as Abia Judiciary workers resumed their suspended strike over their emoluments, non-confirmation of a substantive ChiefJudge, non-payment of leave allowance and non-implementation of the Judiciary Financial Autonomy.
In a press statement posted on the gates of the Umuahia High Court, signed by Comrade Ezeh C N, State chairman and Comrade Ukonu Edward, for State Secretary, the body said, “Following the non-compliance of the Government of Abia State on the payment of all of our worker’s emoluments after severally, writing to them, JUSUN Abia State hereby resolved that is not acceptable to the entire Abia State Judiciary family that since after National Judicial Council (NJC) Abuja wrote for the confirmation of the Honourable Acting Chief Judge Lilian Abai as a substantive Chief Judge, it has not been done thereby making Abia State Judiciary function without a substantive ChiefJudge.
“That following the Head of Service circular dated 4th January 2016, with Ref No: HAS/EST/STR/52/88 conveying the approval of consolidated Judiciary Stalf salary structure ( CONJUSS) for Abia State Judiciary stating that it takes effect from 1st January 2015, but we regret to say that the four months arrears have not been paid till date despite all our constant reminders.
“To demand the inclusion of our members in the payment of the Annual leave allowance as promised by His Excellency on 10™ March 2023 to all Abia State workers.
“Lastly to demand the implementation of the Judiciary financial autonomy.
“In conclusion, we know the above requests are surmountable and believe that the Government will grant our request. But if our requests are not positively looked into from now to the 7th day of April 2023, the Union will be left with no other option than to resume our suspended strike from 10th April 2023”.
Since then, the tribunals have been sitting in a hotel in Umuahia.
However confirming the relocation, the Tribunal Secretary, Bello Hassan in Umuahia Thursday said, “They closed and padlocked the gates and prevented us from going into the court.
“The panel have been moved to Abuja. The Election Petition Tribunals. All the five Panels have been moved to Abuja to commence sitting.”
Meanwhile, the tribunal in its last sitting in Umuahia Wednesday granted the application of Chief Okey Ahaiwe of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to serve the Governor-Elect Dr Alex Otti of the Labour Party (LP) the petition through substituted means.
This follows the application of the Lead Counsel of the Petitioner, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwaogu who observed that other parties in the matter, like the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the Labour Party have been served earlier on.
The Chairman of the Tribunal Justice M. Gwatana noted that all reliefs sought by the Counsel in the application are in the right direction and stated that the tribunal has no option but to grant the reliefs as sought.