In order to enhance early access to legal aid in the criminal justice
system as well as to ensure that the poor are well represented in
Nigeria, the Nigeria Legal Aid Council is partnering to overview the
Police Duty Solicitor Scheme with the Open Society Justice Initiative
(OSJI), and other Private Human Rights Lawyers.
The Director General of the Legal Aid Council, Mrs. Bob-Manuel while
in a workshop with Paralegals and other private law firms in Abuja
said that the challenges of providing legal assistance to ordinary
people requires the participation of a variety of legal service providers, and partnership with a wide range of stakeholder for the actualization of a just and fair criminal justice system.
The director general who lamented that the Nigeria Legal Aid Council
has only 250 lawyers to cover for a population of 190 million people
as against the South Africa Legal Aid Council which has a minimum of
2500 lawyers covering for a population of 50 million also revealed:
“The inadequate supply of lawyers in the employ of the council,
occasioned with the multiplying growth in Nigeria’s population has
made partnership with other NGOs offering pro bono services most
imperative in the execution of our mandate. I therefore urge you(legal
practitioners and participants) to be more professional by acquiring ICT skills as well as a comprehensive in data capturing of your activities in order to enhance legal aid delivery”, she said.
Mr. Stanley Ibe of the OSJI, in his opening remark, said that the
essence of the workshop is to ensure the effective coordination of
enhancing early access to legal aid delivery in the country. While
calling on participants to look out to the less privileged, he lamented that thousands of inmates in the Nigeria Prisons are kept without adequate trial and legal aids given to them.
Ibe who stated that the main focus of the OSJI was on early stages of the criminal justice system, also emphasized the importance of accurate data capture and presentation to legal aid delivery as the only way to compel success story for donor agencies to give support.