Prison Decongestion: 700 lawyers to offer free services


No fewer than 700 lawyers from all the states of the federation have come together to undertake pro bono cases of awaiting trail inmates and youths stuck in police stations.

Youths Empowerment and Justice Initiative (YEJI) under whose purview the legal practitioners will be brought together explained that their intention is to run legal services to people on humanitarian basis and pro bono.

YEJI explained that their hope is to take actions within 24 hours when complainants come to them for help.

Director Legal services YEJI, Barr. Florence Wogu said that one cannot extricate the things happening to the youths in Nigeria to the activities of the older generation holding the reign of power.

Wogu said this in Abuja at YEJI’s committee inauguration meeting.

She said, “We work with the youths because they are the future of the nation, who will carry the narrative, I believe that whatever we do as a nation, we should not sideline the youths of the nation. As long as I know you cannot extricate the things happening to our youths today from the activities and shenanigans of the older generations who are the ones holding the reins of power.

“Generations yet unborn will know that we set our right foot forward as a Non-Governmental Organizations to fight the ills in the society, by the time we visit the correctional centres we will know why some of them are there then we will call for audience to the appropriate authorities, if they defer and refuse to do anything we will give them time 90days and if they refuse to do anything, we will move to the National Assembly by writing to the committee chair, we will also be poking at the ministries of women and youths to handle their mandates.

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“We will be bringing together 700 legal practitioners in all the states under our organization, we know about the domestication of the criminal justice act which needs to equally be domesticated by all the states, the act will mean that we will no longer need policemen to prosecute but lawyers.”

Board of Trustee (BOT) chairman YEJI, Chief Robert Okpara said that the lawyers will be mobilized effectively to go to the different corrections centres in the country.

He added, “The justice administration system in the country needs to change because we are in a system where people are banned up in police stations, I know that some organizations have tried when it comes to this issue but they have not scraped a surface of the issue, what we are saying here is that this 700 lawyers will be mobilized effectively to go to the different corrections centres in Nigeria.

“We intend to investigate the status of all awaiting trail members because so many people have been stuck in these prisons, we will empower the lawyers and the services will be 100% pro bono and any lawyer that charges the people that come to us for help, will have their appointments terminated immediately. They will be lawyers attached to us not exclusively but they will be giving pro bono services to people that we care for.

“It is not just correctional facilities but police stations, if you go to the police stations you will find people that have been there for six months but the law says a different thing. So we have recruited radical lawyers in our mist that will do us proud.”

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