SENATE HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING ON LEGAL AID COUNCIL ACT 2011 (AMENDMENT) BILL 2021
A public hearing on the Legal Aid Council Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill 2021 held on Monday 15 th
November 2021. The public hearing was organized by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human
Rights and Legal Matters and took place at the Senate Conference Hall of the National Assembly
In attendance at the Hearing was the Director General of the Council, Barr. Aliyu Abubakar along
with Members of Management. Also at the Public Hearing Was the President of the Nigerian Bar
Association (Mr. Olumide Akpata) who led other members of the Association and other
stakeholders in the Justice Sector.
Addressing the Committee, Barrister Aliyu Abubakar expressed immense gratitude of the Council
to Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev for sponsoring the Amendment Bill. Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev
sought to amend Section 8 of the Legal Aid Act 2011 extending criminal defence services to
indigent persons in Sharia Courts of Appeal and other Sharia Courts within Nigeria. The Senator’s
amendment also sought to extend legal aid services to indigent persons undergoing civil litigation
before Customary Courts of Appeal and other Customary Courts in Nigeria.
The DG explained that over the years it was observed that many sections of the LAC Act 2011
needed to be amended and therefore the Council used the opportunity to make a submission and
thereby pleaded with the Committee to consider proposed amendment submitted by the Council.
He explained to that the proposed amendment to Section 8 to include Sharia Courts and
Customary Courts was not necessary as the Act captures all tribunals, administrative panels and
courts and provision of legal aid service to indigent Nigerians is a fundamental right recognized by
the Act and so to specify Sharia Courts and Customary Courts will limit or be inimical to the
jurisdiction of the Council. A court of law as specified by the Act is one recognized by the 1999
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any other Statute.
He further stated that the Council is one of the organizations made to aid the poor and indigent in
our society. Funding has been a fundamental problem for the Council and to this end the 2011 Act
provided for a Legal Aid and Access to Justice Fund but did not specify how the fund is to be
administered or activated. Therefore a submission to this end has been made to the Senate
Committee as this fund will help the operation of the Council.
Another submission was on the 2nd schedule of the 2011 Act which the Director General submitted
that it should be expunged as it makes no sense when put together with the other provisions of the