Home News LASG reaffirms promise of free legal services to inmates

LASG reaffirms promise of free legal services to inmates

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Nigeria’s Lagos State Government has confirmed its commitment to providing free legal representation to prisoners awaiting trial in Lagos, especially those who have taken advantage of the plea bargain policy designed to ensure their quick release from custody than a full trial.

The Director of Citizens Rights (DCR), Mrs Oluwatoyin Odusanya, disclosed this during the quarterly visitation of the Agency to Ikoyi, Kirikiri and Badagry correctional centres in the State.

According to Mrs Odusanya, the Directorate of Citizens Rights (DCR), in conjunction with the Office of Public Defender (OPD) and Community Service Unit (CSU), will ensure that inmates awaiting trial are provided with free legal representation.

She noted that the quarterly visitation to the three correctional centres are approved by the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) and aims to grant free access to the inmates, irrespective of gender, faith or social status, to justice.

In addition, the Director explained that the Ministry of Justice has competent lawyers and thousands of administrative and support staff who can provide ready, on-the-spot advice to inmates awaiting trial, encouraging them to utilize the benefits the State government offers in order to access justice.

The director stated that Lagos State Government is committed to addressing the overcrowding of correctional centres due to the high percentage of inmates that are yet to be convicted by any court of law through the prison watch services provided by the Directorate.

“The Directorate also conducts prison watch services to ensure that inmates are kept under humane conditions and their fundamental human rights are not violated, especially awaiting trial inmates that are presumed innocent until convicted by a law court”. Odusanya said.

In response, the Assistant Controller in charge of Ikoyi Corrections, ACC. Dare Opadeji expressed gratitude to the Lagos State Government, Attorney-General and the Directorate of Citizens Rights, Ministry of Justice on behalf of the inmates, saying that the periodic visits give hope of freedom to the inmates, particularly those awaiting trial.

Opadeji also appealed to the State Government to intervene urgently and provide legal representation to inmates charged with fewer crimes but are in prison because they couldn’t afford legal support during their hearings in court.

The high point of the visit was the distribution of household items like Antiseptic disinfectants, Air fresheners, Insecticides, Toothbrushes, Slippers, Hand sanitisers, Shaving sticks, Sanitary towels, Detergents, Brooms and other materials to the inmates by the Directorates of Citizens Rights’ team.

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