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 stakeholders for the actualisation of a just and fair criminal justice system.
The director general 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 2,500 lawyers covering for a population of 50 million. “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 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 effective coordination towards enhancing early access to legal aid delivery in the country. While calling on participants to assist the less privileged, he lamented that thousands of inmates in the Nigerian Prisons are kept without trial and legal aids.
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