In its bid to ensure that Paralegals are provided with the requisite skills as well as adequate backing by law to render legal services especially to poor indigent Nigerians, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LAC) is set to issue Operational Licenses to recognized Paralegal organizations in the Country.
The Director General of LAC, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar who disclosed this after a Two Day National Paralegal Summit, organized by LAC and Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI) recently, in Abuja, also said a Minimum Curriculum as well as Minimum Standard Ethics was agreed upon by participants to draw up a road map for the operations of paralegals in the area of justice administration, especially in the rural areas.
Abubakar who said they are on the process of providing the necessary platform for effective paralegal training, monitoring and utilization so as to increase the awareness in enlightening the common man on his rights and privileges under various laws also stated:
“The Legal Aid Council Act of 2011 specifically noted the need for provision of services rendered by paralegals in the discharge of statutory responsibilities as provided for the Act. S23(4) essentially talks about making regulations by the Council for the involvement of paralegal services, while S.17(3) empowers the Council to grant licenses to persons who have undergone a prescribed course or training in paralegal, he said”.
Earlier, Executive Secretary of IWEI, Mrs Amina Hanga, commended the LAC for organizing what she describes as the first national summit on paralegals in the country. She said the summit will help in showcasing the work of paralegals as well as the services they provide at the grass-root level for poor citizens who cannot be able to access the services of a professional lawyer due to cost and non-availability of lawyers in the rural settlements.
Mrs Hanga whose organization provides legal empowerment to paralegals as well as poor citizens who cannot assess justice, while calling for more collaboration to ensure every citizen gets justice when in need of it, also revealed that from 2016 to August 2019, over 1300 cases of poor citizens were handled and sponsored for free by IWEI.
“The LAC is to be commended for taking the step in the right direction to organize this first National Summit of Para-legal in Nigeria. This shows that they realize that the work of para-legal is very crucial to our society. Where people cannot assess justice also means that there can never be peace. We hope that we will now see more collaboration between civil society organization, LACON and other stakeholders such as the MBA, Correctional Services and the Police in making sure that ‘there is Justice For All’, which is the theme of this meeting”.
“In our organization, one of our major areas of focus is in Legal Empowerment and the Rule of Law and we also train Community Para-legal who also work in prisons, police station and within the Community themselves raising awareness to educating people on their rights, providing mediation where it is needed and linking them up with other services like a lawyer or doctor. We have been doing these now since 2012”, she said.
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