29th November, 2010
The Lagos State Office of Public Defender, OPD, has concluded plans to defend 125Â prisoners languishing in various prisons across Lagos State, southwest Nigeria inÂ court.
The move is part of the 10th anniversary of the outfit established on 24 July, 2000Â by the immediate past Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to render free legal defense toÂ the less privileged.
At a news conference recently, the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General,Â Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro, disclosed that the OPD would be visiting theÂ prisons and would take up 125 fresh cases.
He stated that the office had often made regular visits to the Ikoyi, Kirikiri andÂ Badagry Prisons with a view to providing legal representation to inmates who couldÂ not afford the services of private legal practitioners.
Pedro said that at the request of the OPD, the Nigeria Prison Service occasionallyÂ sent lists of inmates that need immediate legal attention to the office, adding thatÂ these cases were usually assigned to counsel in the office for legal representationÂ in a bid to decongest the prisons.
He also disclosed that in the last 10 years, the OPD had received 4,860 criminalÂ cases of which the office was able to get judgment for 1,985 people. These criminalÂ matters included murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, stealing and malicious damage.
On domestic violence, he disclosed that the office had received over 2,653 cases.
In the area of children in conflict with the law, Pedro said that â€œto date, OPD hasÂ received 264 referrals from remand homes and other organisations and resolved 206Â cases.Â These children are charged with various offences, including murder, armedÂ robbery, child stealing/kidnapping, among others.â€
â€œFrom 2000 and 2010, the office received 10,883 civil petitions, out of which 7,597Â were successfully resolved.Â Â Out of 4,860 cases instituted in court, 2,306 haveÂ been successfully concluded.
â€œThese civil matters included those cases that bother on wrongful dismissal, breachÂ of contract, unpaid salaries and entitlements and workers compensation.Â OthersÂ include divorce cases, custody/maintenance of children, processing of letters ofÂ administration for clients who lost their bread winners and unable to supportÂ themselves financially,â€ he added.
The permanent secretary further disclosed that the OPD was able to facilitate theÂ collection of N63.8 million on behalf of its clients from 2000 till date.
Speaking, the Director, OPD, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, said the grand finale of the 10thÂ anniversary of the office will hold tomorrow, adding that during the week, remandÂ homes and prisons were visited while a public lecture/book launch and awarenessÂ campaign were part of the programme.
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