Colleagues To Render Selfless Services - Legal Aid Council

Ochubili enjoined the lawyers to always have the mind of providing free services in order to assist in reducing congestion in the prisons.

She stressed the need for young lawyers to take up free representation of accused persons in court, as part of their service to the nation.

``A lot of prisoners are lingering in custody awaiting trial without any legal representation.

``In line with the principle of natural justice and good conscience, lawyers are strongly advised to take up the briefs of these accused persons free of charge,’’ she said.

Mr Maxwell Oghenetega, also a lawyer, said that there was no limit to the assistance that could be rendered to prisoners awaiting trial.

He said that although lawyers in the council and office of the public defender were doing their best to represent accused persons in court, more hands were still needed.

Oghenetega said that instead of lawyers chasing briefs in court against the ethics of the profession, such time should be devoted to those who actually could not afford legal services.

Mr Kola Afolayan, a lawyer, lamented the fact that both awaiting trial suspects and convicted criminals were lumped together, thereby, congesting the prisons.

``There is a difference between a convicted criminal and an accused awaiting trial.

``Most times, these people are lumped together in a cell in spite of the clear distinction.

``Before an accused is convicted, he must have been tried after being given a fair hearing.

``But why place those who have not even been tried with those convicted?" he queried.

Afolayan urged legal practitioners to ensure that they take up cases free of charge, in the interest of justice and in a bid to encourage prison decongestion.