BY DOTUN IBIWOYE
The Office of the Public Defender, OPD, has disclosed that it treated a total number of 4,036 cases and ensured that N8,332,598.00 compensation was paid to deserving people between January and July 2014.
Established as an agency of the Lagos state government under the OPD Law, 2003 to serve as an autonomous institution providing free legal services to the poor and disadvantaged the indigent residents.
Director of the OPD, Mrs Omotola Rotimi, stated this in a chat with Vanguard affirming the the number of cases the organisation has handled this year has double the one of last year just at the middle of the year.
According to her, OPD has handled 1590 court cases -both in civil and criminal, 2,403 petitions, 42 police matters, 21 rescue mission, 22 public interest and a total of N51,266,946.56 compensation was paid last year.
OPD collaborates with UNICEF to render pro bonoservices to children and juveniles who have either been detained at the Police Station or remanded in prison custody or Remand Homes.
The Office also works with the British Council (DFID) in its case tracking system project with the Directorate of Public Prosecution, Prisons, Police and the Judiciary towards improved criminal justice system in the State.
“The N8.332 million compensation that the OPD assisted the aggrieved people since January and now (July) vary a lot. The company then pays the victims , it could also be that and their benefits were not given to then and the people come to report to OPD. After our intervention, the company might agree that they will pay three months or six months and so on, she said
“People whose jobs were terminated without due process, some were involved in accidents in their work place and get thrown out of the job without any benefit and any wrong termination of employment. What is noticeable is that more people are now coming out to lay their complaints, she said
“We have handled 4,036 cases since January to now, this cases show that a lot of people are more aware of the OPD, and they know that they can now access justice . People are now coming out to come to complaints.
“People are no more suffering and dying in silence as it was before. The public sensitization has gone far.