Ogun: Legal Aid Council Handles 3,399 Cases Pro-Bono In 40 Years | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ogun: Legal Aid Council Handles 3,399 Cases Pro-Bono In 40 Years

Posted: Apr 8, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Laide Raheem


The Legal Aid Council of Nigeria on Thursday in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, disclosed it handled a total of 3,399? free legal services on behalf of indigent and vulnerable people in Ogun State in the last 40 years.

The Ogun state Coordinator of the Council, Mrs. Muslimat Abdulrahman, made this disclosure when she spoke during a sensitisation / awareness programme held at the Ita-Oshin Motor Park in Abeokuta.

Abdulrahman, noted that the agency, which was established by the Federal Government in 1976, offered free legal assistance in both criminal and civil cases.

According to her, the council received 3,141 criminal cases between 1976 and March 2016 and has completed 2,841 cases with only 300 still pending.

She noted further that the agency started handling civil cases in 1990 and had completed 239 out of the 258 civil cases brought to it, while 19 civil cases were pending as at February 2016.

?she however, regretted that awareness was still low among Nigerians about legal aid services, and pointed out that the council handles capital offences such as murder, manslaughter, homicide, assault, armed robbery, stealing and rape?.

Her words, “This sensitisation awareness programme is to enlighten the public that we represent the voice of the voiceless and the masses that cannot afford legal representation. Ours is to assist them in the law court in any case.

?”We have nine judicial divisions in the state and Legal Aid? is represented there. And we have just five lawyers for Ogun State but we are trying our best.?

?”We operate at Magistrate Court, (state) High Court, Federal High Court, and sometimes we go to the Court of Appeal. Pro-bonoship of Legal Aid ends at High Court and Federal High Court. Any applicant who is not satisfied can now engage a private lawyer for Court of Appeal,” she said.

The coordinator commended the state Chief Judge, Justice Olatokunbo Olopade, for initiating measures to ensure speedy dispensation of justice? and quarterly decongestion programme in the prisons.

“Apart from quarterly decongestion programme, the CJ has made several efforts and created two courts, particularly in Abeokuta, that deal predominantly with criminal cases and those courts give us three months maximum grace for you to finish a criminal ?case.

“In order words, prosecution ministry of justice must ensure their witnesses are in court as and when due so that there will be no frivolous adjournment and delay of cases; so that cases will not be standing for years and an accused person will still be languishing in custody for just awaiting trial”. She said.

?Abdulrahman, however, urged members of the public to desist from stigmatising those that had been released from prison, but help them to be re-integrated into the society.