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An experience sharing workshop on Enhancing Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice System was held on the 18th August 2016 at Jades Hotel, Ndola Crescent, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

The workshop was sponsored by the Open Society Justice Initiative and had in attendance representatives of NGOs from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria as well as LACoN State Coordinators.

The Director General of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Mrs. Joy Bob-Manuel, delivered a welcome address to the participants at the workshop. In her speech she emphasized that the workshop organized to bring together all players in Legal Aid delivery in Nigeria to synergize in the delivery of legal aid citing that the Legal Aid Council cannot do the job alone given the limited resources available. She called on participants to tap into the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) citing some provisions in the Act which empowers the Council to deliver more service to the indigent. She challenged all participants representing different organisations to study the ACJA  and extract roles in order to make sure all hands are on deck to achieve the mandate of the council in enhancing legal aid delivery in Nigeria.

As a follow up on the Director Generals speech, Mr. Stanley Ibe, representative of the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) gave an analysis of the number of poor people in the Nigeria who need free legal services in relation to the number of poor people the providers of Legal Aid in Nigeria are able to meet. He stated that in order to reach out to more poor people who are in dire need of such services, there has to be synergy amongst stakeholders. He reiterated that the workshop was to engage all participants and stakeholders to make commitments and resolve to tackle the challenges facing the administration of criminal justice system in Nigeria. To achieve this, He said that there was need to take down data (figures) to know how effective a law is in its implementation.

The participants deliberated on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act on how to ensure its full implementation. The forum provided the participants who are familiar with ACJA, an opportunity to share on what the ACJA entails, its provisions and challenges in implementation.

The Organisations in attendance include the Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre, WOTCLEF (Taraba),   Network Of University Legal Aid Institution (NULAI Nasarawa State University Law Clinic), Ashes Unite Foundation (Abuja), Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP Lagos), Levite Hope Foundation (Jos)  FIDA (Anambra State Chapter), Elyon Reform And Charity Center (Abuja), Crystal Justice Initiative for Legal Advancement (CJILA Gombe), and Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) (Akure).

 

   

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