We Turned To Cab Driving, Farming During Strike – Lawyers Reveals

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Lawyers has revealed how they turned to cab driving, farming during strike, The Nation can confirm.

We Turned To Cab Driving, Farming During Strike - Lawyers Reveals

Some lawyers turned to cab driving and farming to survive during the strike by judiciary workers, it was learnt on Tuesday.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) suspended its nationwide strike last Wednesday.

Members of the union had embarked on the strike on April 6 to demand the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Normal activities resumed in many states, but there were skeletal activities in others, according to findings by our correspondents.

At the Enugu State Judiciary Headquarters, an unusual crowd of people were seen at the registries and the affidavit office.

A long queue of persons was seen waiting at the registries.

A lawyer, Ifeanyi Egbo, who was in the court to get a new date, said litigants were the worst hit during the shutdown, especially those in detention who could have regained freedom or had their cases concluded.

Some of the lawyers, who spoke our correspondent in confidence, said they converted their vehicles to cabs; others said they took up menial jobs to survive.

One of them said: “For some of us, especially those of us who specialise in litigations, it has been a very difficult 10 weeks for us.

“I had to get involved in farming. It was not very easy, but I was able to sustain myself with my farm.

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“Some of my colleagues converted their vehicles to cabs; others took menial jobs to sustain themselves and families.”

In Cross River, there was an audit of workers, many of whom reported before a state panel of personnel auditors.

The Chief Registrar, Pius Okokon, told our correspondent that judges would begin sitting after the audit that is part of the state civil service requirement.

Judicial activities resumed in courts across Lagos State.

The Court of Appeal on Lagos Island heard nine matters. Activities were low key at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi with only one judge sitting. Other courtrooms were adjusting to the recent transfer of federal judges across the country.

At the Lagos High Court, Tafa Balewa Square (TBS), courtrooms were open and cleaners were seen working, while court registrars were seen preparing cause lists of expected cases.

Our correspondents observed lawyers filing new cases at the court’s litigation department.

Among judges that sat yesterday were Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court and Justices Hakeem Oshodi and Mojisola Dada both of the court’s Criminal Division.

No fewer than six judges retired from the Lagos bench during the JUSUN strike having attained the mandatory retirement age of 65 years.

Judges of the Federal and state high courts in Warri South Local Government Area did not sit, but lawyers flocked the various courts to file cases and get new dates for pending cases that could not be heard during the strike.

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Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Warri Branch, Chief Emmanuel Uti, said the resumption was most welcomed.

Registrars were also busy giving out new dates in Kano and Plateau states.

In Anambra, only the Chief Judge, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, sat in Awka as the workers were busy cleaning their offices. Courts did not sit in Nnewi, Onitsha and Ogidi.

JUSUN Chairman, Igwebuike Jude, said things have to be put in place before judges will resume full sitting.

Courts across the 17 local government areas in Abia State were yet to resume sitting.

In Aba and Umuahia, the state capital, workers were busy cleaning or giving new dates.

Some of the workers said their colleagues were yet to resume because they were yet to be paid.

“Some of the workers trekked to work. Some are waiting to get their salary before they can come to work as they do not have the transport to pay for their transport fares to the office,” a worker who preferred not to be named said.

Judges did not sit in Agbarho in Ughelli North. In Agbarho High Court and Ughelli High Court, cases were assigned new dates.

Judges sat in various courts in Kano, with many litigants besieging registries.

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In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, litigants stormed the courts to file new cases or get new dates.

Spokesman of JUSUN, Oyo branch, Obafunso Okulaja, said: “Police stations have been overcrowded with suspects because courts could not sit.

“Our registry was overcrowded because people were too many in detention. People trooped in en-mass. No fewer than 80 cases were registered in our registry today (yesterday).”

In Sokoto, courts did not sit. In Katsina and Osun, workers were seen cleaning the court halls and giving dates.

In Yobe, the high court in Damaturu, the magistrate courts and the sharia courts were all in full operation. State Chairman of JUSUN, Babangida Mohammed, said all workers had resumed. Some magistrates sat; judges will begin sitting today, it was learnt.

The judges of courts in Edo State did not sit yesterday. The newly-inaugurated Chief Judge, Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha, who took over from Justice Esther Edigin on May 17 following her retirement, met with all the judges.

In Bayelsa, some lawyers were seen at court premises in Yenagoa, the state capital.

Secretary, NBA Yenagoa Branch, Somina Johnbull, said: “The courts have to issue new dates for the ones that have elapsed, except cases that have been fixed for this period.”