Members of the Judiciary Staff Union (JUSUN) in Osun barricaded the entrance of the state high court in Osogbo, locking out lawyers and litigants on Monday.
Gatekeepers News reports that Chairman of JUSUN, Gbenga Eludire, said the protest was to express dissatisfaction with the chief judge, Oyebola Ojo, and how the judicial affairs in the state are being handled.
The protesters raised placards with inscriptions such as “judiciary staff deserves better”, “we are tired of oppression and stagnation”, “unlawful suspension of judiciary staff without recourse to Judicial Service Commission is barbaric”, among others.
Eludire accused Ojo of suspending workers without following due process, owing allowances and refusing to send workers for statutory training.
He said, “Before now, we have adopted several approaches to at least mend the situation for the chief judge to do the needful.
“But we are left with no other option than to picket her office so that we can amplify our voices for the world to hear about what we are going through as workers in the temple of justice.
“One of the reasons why we are here today to picket the office of the CJ is that some of our members have been suspended for more than three years, running to about 59 months now.
“Why should that be? Even without any recourse to the Judicial Service Commission. Ordinarily, the rule says that for any senior officer to be sanctioned or to be punished, such an officer must pass through an investigation by the Judicial Service Commission.
“But in our own case, it was a unilateral decision of the CJ and it is against the ethics of our job and it is even against the employer and employee bargaining system.
“Many of these people were arraigned before the chief magistrate court and they were vindicated, but I must tell you even after that, the CJ insisted that her will must be done and we don’t know to what extent.
“Judiciary staff are not slaves, we are even called the engine room of the court. How practicable is this? We need to check the excesses of our honourable CJ and that is why we have come out.
“Besides that, we realise there are some other benefits that were to be accorded to judiciary workers but up till now we have not seen anything. We have consulted and we have even approached our CJ on several occasions to plead on behalf of our members because it is our duty to safeguard and protect the interests of all our members. They are all financial members and we must have their interest.”
He added, “We have done this on several occasions discussing with our CJ but it appeared she is not ready to recognise or even reckon with what we are demanding from her.”
Eludire noted that the protest has nothing to do with the ongoing issues between the chief judge and the state government.
Governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke on Thursday, suspended Ojo from office and approved the appointment of Olayinka Afolabi as the acting chief judge.
Ojo was suspended despite an order by the national industrial court restraining the governor from removing her from office.
Meanwhile, Adeleke, in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, on Thursday had directed the swearing-in of Olayinka Afolabi as acting CJ.
Osun Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Kolapo Alimi, in a statement on Sunday, said Adeleke did not suspend the chief judge.