The Legal Aid Council (LAC) has provided free legal services to 1,800 persons since 2014, its Lagos State Coordinator, Mrs Latifat Salau, has said.
Speaking during a public awareness campaign, she said the number could have been higher if more indigent persons with legal needs had sought the council’s services.Mrs Salau said the council’s lawyers offer free legal services in cases of rape, stealing, affray, manslaughter, murder, assault and armed robbery, among others.LAC, she said, also handles civil matters, such as landlord/tenant issues, illegal dismissal from work, breach of contract, child custody issues, family/marital issues, inheritance and claims.It also intervenes where there are breaches of fundamental human rights, such as unlawful arrest/detention, among others.
“LAC has offices across Nigeria. People can walk into our offices and access free legal services. We’re open from 8am till 4pm Mondays to Fridays. We have lawyers on ground. Any service that a lawyer can render to his client, the Legal Aid can render it. And all the services are free,” she said.LAC’s Southwest Zonal Director, Ayodele Banjo, said free legal services are available to persons without income or those whose earnings do not exceed the national minimum wage.
According to him, if aggrieved people know they can obtain justice easily; few people would take laws into their hands or take up arms.
“It is only when there is justice that you can attain peace in the society. We have a lot of conflicts in the society, as well as insurgency. It’s possible that if grievances had been addressed at the earliest through the proper channels, many problems would not have escalated.
“Maybe many of the problems we have today started with acts of injustice and those affected felt there was no way they could ventilate their grievances. Maybe they couldn’t afford a lawyer, so they decided to take to the streets.
“If somebody knows they can get justice in court free of charge and use such services, we’ll have less violence in the society. Through the LAC, people who don’t have money can still access the court. We defend them and propagate their cases,” he said.
Assistant Chief Legal Officer, Mrs Grace Adenubi, said LAC was set up in 1990 to provide free legal assistance to the poor, adding that “legal aid can also be given to any person whose income exceeds the national minimum wage.”