By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJAâ€” President Goodluck Jonathan is committed towards enthroning the rule of law and access to justice in every community in Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, has said.
The AGF who made this declaration at a legal aid practitioners and providers forum, convened by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, yesterday, maintained that President Jonathan was poised towards evolving workable measures to strengthen legal aid delivery to the underserved urban centres and grassroot communities, adding that it was high time Nigeria developed home grown ways to make justice affordable to all.
Canvasses equal access to Justice
According to him, â€œequal access to justice is an important pillar in the building of a stable and successful democratic society. The absence of equal access to justice invariably breeds a myriad of societal vices such as an increase in self-help, violent crimes and a sense of hopelessness in the democratic order. Legal aid for the vulnerable and poor in our country is therefore critical to the sustenance of our present democratic system.
â€œTherefore, I urge the Council and other Legal Aid providers and collaborators to put in place sustainable structures to serve as major indices of federal presence in rural areas in Nigeria,â€ the AGF said.
Earlier in his speech, the chairman governing board of the Legal Aid Council, Justice Oseni Oyewu (Rtd), advocated for the South African Legal Aid model, which he said is not only economical, but brings about a great deal of specialization into legal aid service delivery.
Seeks adoption of South Africa legal aid model
â€œIn recent times, in addition to the use of Judicare and salaried Legal Aid practitioners, there is the formation and adoption of designated clusters within communities in the areas of legal service delivery in both civil and criminal justice system. These clusters are made up of both legal practitioners, para-legals and other non-legal aid providers.
This is why the South African legal aid providers have made several landmarks you would find spread within provinces and small communities in South Africa.
â€œLegal Aid is basically for those that for one reason or the other have difficulty in getting the services of their own lawyer. Most of these people are found in the rural communities.
â€œThe time has therefore come for the council to provide legal aid services not only at the urban centres but to the grassroot where the poorest of the poor resides.”