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Legal Aids Has Treated 6,000 Cases In Five Years In Delta --- Says Coordinator

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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Mr Bernard Onokhowemu, Delta State Coordinator, Legal Aid Council (LAC) of Nigeria, said that the council has in the last five years handled and completed over 6,000 cases in the state.

The coordinator, who spoke to newsmen on Monday during a sensitization programme by the council in Asaba, said the exercise had become necessary to further bring the activities of the council to the general public.

He said that the council in 2015 received 2185 applications, completed 769 cases out of which it won 750 cases but lost 19 cases.

He said though awareness on its activities had increased to about 50 per cent, particularly with those who had benefited from its services.

He said that there was need to expand the awareness by taking the campaign to other communities like Okpamnam, Illah, Ibusa, Ogapwashi-Uku and environ.

Onokhowemu said that the council would at a later date take its sensitisation to Warri, Ughelli and other parts of the state.

"This is a nationwide campaign, the LAC is embarking on a sensitization programme today to enable the general public know the opportunities available for indigent citizens in the state to seek legal assistance free of charge.

"The council is set up by decree 52 of 1976 which was repealed by the new Legal Aid Act of 2011 and this new Act broadened the mandate given to the council to offer its services to the general public.

"So far, we have in the past five years handled and completed over 6,000 cases from those who could not afford the services of a lawyer in the state," Onokhowemu said.

He said that the council takes cases of virtually all nature that a private legal practitioner could do which includes criminal cases, civil cases, and the giving of advice and alternative dispute resolution.

Onokhowemu said that with the reviewed mandate of the council, it has helped to handle most criminal cases and secured release for the innocent citizens being detained in the prisons thereby helping to decongest the prisons.

He said that the council no doubt had some challenges such as funding and personnel and appealed to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to support it with personal to make its jobs easier.