Lagos Grants Suspects Access to Legal Aid
In a bold step aimed towards decongesting Police cells, and a means of giving justice to various suspects who couldn’t get access to court due to the ongoing nationwide industrial action by judiciary staff under aegis of JUSUN, the Lagos State Government has ordered all State counsel in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Lagos State Ministry of Justice, to mobilise and visit various Police Stations in the State.
The directive was initiated by the State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, to cushion the effects of the protracted JUSUN strike.
A statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Kayode Oyekanmi, explained that all Counsel in the Directorate were mobilised and sent to Police Divisions in the State to carry out the work of District Prosecutors, by sifting through IPOs files for matters which fall within the purview of criminal trials.
According to a senior staff of the Ministry, “First and foremost, it is Judiciary Staff that are on strike, not the Magistrates and Judges. Second, they can work without judicial staff, they have legal assistants (the people who wear legal robes in the courtroom) who they are not part of JUSUN; they also perform other functions apart from sitting in court; they can perform other functions, for example, Section 33 and 34 of the ACJA mandates Magistrates to visit Police Stations for inspections and decongestion, as was done in Baba Ijesha’s matter.
In a related development, the State has also provided free legal consultation to the residents of Igando-Ikotun area and environs.
According to the Director, Office of the Public Defender, Dr. Jide Martins, the Joint legal clinic is an effort to have a one-stop-shop for legal advice, for the residents of Lagos State.
Dr. Martins said the free legal clinic is in accordance with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s theme’s Agenda of “Security and Governance”, to ensure easy accessibility of legal services to all residents of the State.
Also, the Director Citizens Mediation Centre, Mrs. Biola Oseni said that the legal clinic is held in each community to make legal consultation closer to the people, while sensitising the residents on their rights in accordance with the law and the State Government Centres to ensure justice, promote peace and harmony among the citizens.
Mrs. Oseni noted that the annual Joint Legal Clinic is slated to hold at different divisions (Ikorodu, Badagary, Ikeja, Lagos Island, and Epe) of the State.
While acknowledging the efforts of State Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, she noted that his office would continue to promote peace and harmony in the community.
She implored other residents to take advantage of the free legal services rendered by the Ministry of Justice, instead of resorting to self-help.