The new Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Aba branch, Kenneth Nwakanma, said he would ensure that the high cost of litigation was reduced during his term.
Speaking with reporters after being presented with his Certificate of Return, he regretted that the cost of litigation in the state has denied many people access to justice.
He said: “We shall continue to offer legal aides to people who cannot afford legal services. There is in place what we call, free legal aide. It is in place and we offer that help to those who may not really afford what it takes to go to court and actually express their feelings when their rights are infringed upon.
“We are also going to ensure that as much as possible that the cost of litigation is reduced because come to think of it, the courts are not only for the rich, they should even be more friendly to those that are indigent or impoverished ones.’’
He continued: “We will make sure that we fight the cause in ensuring that the cost of litigation is reduced so that it can be affordable to everybody. Otherwise what it means is that we are going to continue either by act or by some kind of omission encourages the deprivation of those who ought to approach the court to seek redress; we discourage them by allowing high cost of litigation to continue to prevail. We are going to ensure that all these things are reduced so that everybody shall have access to court when the need arises”.
Nwakanma, who said his desire to ‘sustain the tempo’ set by his predecessors, said the branch would partner and dialogue with the state government.
He added that he would dialogue with the Nigeria Police to ensure that bail was free, stressing that bailing a suspect doesn’t mean setting the person free but to allow the person to prepare to face litigation.
“We are going to have meeting with the police hierarchy and discuss with them because I believe that sometimes, dialogue can also solve problems and not about throwing banters and mudslinging all the time, sometime you can dialogue.
“We will make them understand that the issue of bail being free is a constitutional right, nobody should pay for it, people should not suffer before they get bail and come to think of it, the issue of bail doesn’t mean that you have set an accused person or a suspect free.
‘’What it means is that you are giving him the chance to make sure that he prepares himself properly to face his trial, that is what the constitution says that any man who is accused of any offence shall have access to his lawyers and all the things legitimately available to him in order to ensure that he goes to court to defend himself appropriately and come to think of it, anybody who is accused of any manner of crime whatsoever, is presumed innocent until a court finds him guilty,” Nwakanma added.
While appealing for members’support, he added that his administration would ensure that lawyers in the commercial nerve of the state have a conducive atmosphere to ply their trade, disclosing that they also have programmes and activities that would expose and help younger lawyers in the branch enhance their skills.
Out-gone chairman of the branch, Chidozie Ogunji, thanked the members for their support, enjoining them to extend same to the new regime.
He further said he would assist Nwakanma and the branch.
Others sworn in with Nwakanma were Perfect Okorie, vice chairman; Onyekachi Nwagbaoso, financial secretary; Queenderlin Ubani, treasurer; Ijeoma Emeku (social welfare), Charles Nsobundu Oluchukwu (secretary), Chukwudi Chibuzo, asst. secretary, Ngozi Anthonia Onuorah, welfare and Friday Ohajuru (publicity secretary).
The event, which was witnessed by some of the past chairmen of the branch, also featured the presentation of certificates of return to the newly elected exco members also witnessed the official inauguration of young lawyers association, Aba branch.