Nigeria – The Office of the Public Defender (OPD), as part of its mandate and passion to create equal access to justice, has offered free legal representation in courts to 350 inmates of all Correctional Centres in Lagos State.
In a statement issued by the Director of the Agency, Dr. Babajide Martins, the inmates were identified during OPD’s periodic visits to correctional centres as parts of its mandate to render support and assistance to vulnerable inmates, who are in dire need of legal representation in courts.
He said it is unfortunate that many inmates of the correctional centres are lacking legal representation, especially those awaiting trial, due to their inability to afford the fees, adding that some inmates have been abandoned by their private lawyers because of frequent adjournments and mounting cost.
According to him, some of the inmates that OPD has selected to benefit from the free representation have spent many years behind bars with charges for various offences including Armed Robbery, Assault, Cultism, Murder, Manslaughter and Stealing under false pretence.
While revealing that the Office would increase the number of its visits to correctional centres in the State in order to assist more inmates, Martins said most of them have also expressed their desire for a plea bargain to hasten their court cases.
The Director emphasised that the provision of free legal services to the needy in correctional centres is not only part of OPD’s mandate, but also in furtherance of the need to ensure access to Justice by all Lagosians, which is a pivotal part of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda for good governance.
The Office of the Public Defender is a directorate under the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, established to render free legal services to the disadvantaged and vulnerable residents of Lagos State.