Striking judiciary workers in Edo State, on Monday, defied a directive by the State Government ordering them to call off their over-four-month industrial action and return to work or face dismissal from the civil service.
The workers, under the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, have been on strike since January 5 over the alleged unwillingness of the State Government to show commitment towards implementing the financial autonomy granted to the judiciary by a Federal High Court, in Abuja, on January 13. However, in a bid to re-open the courts, the Judicial Service Commission had, in a statement signed by its secretary, Isaac Sanu, last Thursday, instructed the workers to return to their duty posts, on May 18, lest they be sacked.
But the workers described the directive as illegal and vowed not to the call off the strike until their grievances were addressed.
It was, however, gathered that the main gate of the high court was forced open at about 9a.m. under the supervision of its Chief Registrar, after some of the striking employees tried to prevent entry, a move the Vice- Chairman of the union, Comrade John Egbomeade, described as mere intimidation to which the workers would not succumb.
Egbomeade said: “The Chief Registrar of the High Court, H. E. Enemaku, came to force the door open; that the workers are willing to come to work. But you can see that even some hours after the door has been broken, no staff is prepared to work.
“So, that is to tell you that they are trying to use intimidation to force the workers to report for duty. But the workers are saying there is no going back. So, irrespective of any threat, the strike continues.”