Legal Aid Providers Network
The Legal Aid Council held an interactive session with the Legal Aid Providers’ Network at the conference room of the headquarter building, Abuja. The essence of the meeting was to analyze reports from organizations that made up the network and seek possible improvement in the services rendered to the indigent citizens in the Country.
He stressed that the litigants who are in various custodial centers ought to be rendered free legal services by the Government (in this case LAC) but are unable to fulfill the task because they are grossly underfunded and lack adequate man power. He pointed out that there are situations where a single lawyer is working in a State office. The Director General also pointed out that, if the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) can get their Act right and implemented to the letter, it will help in reducing the number of pre-trial detainees because the police have the power to arrest. He however, charged the group not to relent in trying to see how best to contribute in bringing change to the Justice System in Nigeria and prayed that the appropriate stakeholders grant him approval to ensure that the Council gets the required Human and Financial resources for the Council.
The Director of International Operations (DIO) Mr. Ibikunle Bamidele informed the group that the Director General has taken note of their deliberations. He highlighted that the Legal Aid Providers Network comprises of a number organizations that saw the need to parley with the Legal Aid Council to ensure access to justice to the poor and vulnerable in the society.
Organizations that are represented in the Network are as follows:
- Free Criminal and Bail Initiative,
- Nigeria Bar Association, Abuja Branch,
- CITIZENS GAVEL,
- LEHI ATTORNEYS,
- NULAI, NIGERIA BAZE LAW CLINIC,
- Rule Of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC)
In reporting their various activities, the organizations took turn to enumerate the nature of the work they have carried out within the period of review. The various activities which were common to all the organizations include:
- Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS)
- Pro-bono Services
- Road show activities to sensitize the locals of their various activities and how to access the various services they render.
- Educational and enlightenment entertainment programmer quarterly / Visit/ bi-annual to custodial centers.
- Food drive programmer: this Involves donating food items to the inmates
- Settlement of fines
- Intervention for masses charged to mobile courts.
Resolutions for the way forward:
Having reported their various activities within their domain, the Network therefore agreed that for them to progress further in serving the masses:
- A platform should be created for a network of pro-bono service providers.
- Pro-bono forms to be made available at the NBA braches for the Lawyers that have passion for the Job.
- A mobile application (App) should be developed for online filling of forms, uploading of documents.
- Create a reporting system where Legal Aid providers can report their activities to LACoN to peruse and access. Appreciation of pro-bono providers.
- Design a radio program where members can take turn to feature and discuss the activities of the group. This could be in form of phone in or advocacy visit to Radio Nigeria, Human Rights Radio Program or Armed Forces Radio station.