Operators of businesses near court premises on Lagos Island have decried harsh effects of the ongoing nationwide strike by judicial workers.
Newsmen report that Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), on April 1, ordered its members across the country to shut down all courts on April 6.
NAN reports that the indefinite strike was to press home the union’s demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The strike has stalled court sittings and crippled commercial activities near court premises.
Operators of cyber cafes and other business centres as well as food vendors and suit sellers and other petty traders said they had been suffering poor patronage.
They spoke with newsmen on Monday in Lagos.
Mrs Tope Amusa, who runs a business centre near the Tinubu Magistrates’ Court premises, said that life had become difficult since the closure of the courts.
She said her family depended on the daily income she made from photocopying and typing of documents for lawyers and litigants.
“I cannot begin to explain the kind of hardship my family is facing since the courts were locked down.
“I make as much as N15,000 a day from photocopying of documents, typing documents and taking passport photographs, but now, it is on a lucky day that I make N3,000,” Amusa said.
Mrs Ogechi Okonkwo, who operates a business centre near Igbosere Magistrate’s Court, expressed frustration over the shutdown of courts by JUSUN.
“Most of my customers are lawyers, and since the strike began, they are not coming to type documents,’’ she said.
Ms Amaka Nwachukwu, a seller of cassava flakes (African salad), said lawyers and litigants at the Tinubu Magistrates’ Court were her major customers.
She said she had lost patronage since the strike started.
She said her business, which earned her N9,000 per day, was her only source of income as a single mother of three.
“My usual stand is beside the court gate. instead of hawking my “abacha” in the sun, I sell all that I bring at that place because people going in and out of court buy from me.
“Now that the courts are not open, I have to hawk, and that is more stressful with no assurance of selling all.
“It has been hard for me with three other mouths to feed,’’ Nwachukwu said.
Miss Rukayat Taofeek, a porridge seller, said she was experiencing a similar situation, as she usually packaged her porridge at N250 per plate and come to the court to sell during lunch time.
“My means of livelihood has been crippled since the strike began. I use proceeds from the food I sell for my daily upkeep and tuition fee because I fend for myself.
“I already have regular customers at the Tinubu Chief Magistrates’ Court among lawyers and litigants, but now that the strike is still on for more than a month, things have been difficult.”
Mr Adamu Idrisu, a suit seller, also lamented low patronage.
“I sell suits to lawyers at Igbosere and Tinubu Chief Magistrates’ Courts, using my car as a mobile shop.
“Since the strike began, it has been difficult to sell one suit in a day.
“I take them to banks sometimes but it is not the same.
Mr Tony Adeyemo, a stationeries seller, and Mrs Sola Adetayo, a soft drink seller, equally complained of low patronage since the strike began.
They appealed to state governments to met the demands of JUSUN so it could call off the indefinite strike.