Illegal detention: Ogun posts lawyers to police stations, offers free legal services

Days of illegal detention might be over in Ogun State if the Government Dapo Abiodun administration makes good its plan to make available lawyers in all police stations in the State.

While launching the Ogun Public Interest Law Partnership and Police Duty Solicitor Scheme at the Obas’ Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, on Friday, Gov Abiodun said his administration would provide free legal services to the poor and indigent residents of the State.

According to him, “the inability of the poor and the vulnerable to have access to justice may not only cause great suffering for those affected, but could ultimately result in social and economic turmoil with dire consequences for the society.”

He, however, disclosed that his administration, through the Citizens’ Rights Department, as well as the Legal Aid Council, had thus far supported the provision of voluntary legal services to the under-privileged and the disadvantaged in the state.

He added that the scheme would be properly monitored to ensure that it was not abused by people with sufficient means to afford the services of lawyers.

He explained further that “the initiative would enable citizens seeking free legal services submit applications to the OPILP, have them matched with lawyers or law firms registered with the nearest NBA branch, as well as ensure that such applicants are provided with free legal representation”, adding that “once lawyers are assigned, they would be monitored by OPILP to ensure that they give assigned matters the requisite priority with a view to concluding them swiftly and effectively.”

Saga Gist reports that the Steering Committee was inaugurated by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu at the event attended by the state Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun.

“The Steering Committee will comprise of the five Chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association Branches in the State, a representative of the Justice Research Institute who would serve as members; the Chairperson of the Ogun State Chapter of FIDA; Mrs. Kemi Osisanya, and the Chairman of the Ogun State Coalition of Civil Society, Yinka Folarin, who would serve as observers, and Mr. Yemi Adewole, the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice who would serve as an auxiliary member,” the governor said.

Earlier in his address, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Akingbolahan Adeniran, disclosed that the contact details of the solicitors could be obtained by members of the public through the Twitter handle of the ministry @ MoJ_Ogun, or at the Citizens Right Department of the ministry, as well as the five Nigeria Bar Association branch offices in the State.

Also speaking, a Magistrate, Olukemi Adebo, explained further that “the purpose of the scheme is to ensure that a lawyer is available at every police station in the state, to ensure that no one is detained illegally.”

“The initiative is to make sure that we have a lawyer on duty at every police station within the state, and the duty of the solicitor on duty at each station is to make sure that no one is unnecessarily detained, to make sure that whoever is entitled to bail secure one and also make sure that the process of statement taking is actually legit,” she said.

Adebo disclosed that the scheme currently has over 160 lawyers.

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