The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has provided technical support to 60 legal practitioners to render pro-bono legal aid to drug arrestees.
The project under ‘’Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria’’ was funded by the European Union. The practitioners include nominated members from the Nigerian Bar Association.
Addressing newsmen during the training the project coordinator, Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria, Glen Prichard said that the objective of the training was to acquire correct knowledge on drug use, drug prevention, treatment and care (DPTC) and to reduce stigma against drug users which could eventually improve the availability of pro-bono legal services for drug users.
Prichard advocated for access for legal aid for drug arrestees.
He, however, stressed that drug related issues should be treated as health issues not criminalising the offenders.
The group set up by Prichard will ‘’Map lawyers who are willing and available to provide pro-bono legal aid services for drug arrestees in Nigeria.
‘’Provide these details to the Prisons and NDLEA Commands and encourage them to contact these lawyers.’’
A legal practitioner based in Bauchi who was a participant at the workshop Hussaini Saraki reiterated the commitment of the participants to provide pro-bono services to drug arrestees.
He assured that the lawyers would provide efficient legal representation, adding that with proper sensitisation the goal of the body will be achieved.
‘’Leaving drug arrestees in prison for too long is not good because they can easily get involved in other crimes.
‘’It is the right of every citizen to have proper legal representation. Everyone has right to human right. Everyone should have access to quick and efficient legal representation,’’ he added.