By Alex Enumah
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has charged the Legal Aid Council to ensure equal access to justice for all irrespective of means, as well as ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens are respected, protected and defended.
Malami gave the charge yesterday, in Kano, while declaring open a two-day Legal Aid Governing Board Retreat with the theme: ‘The Role of the Governing Board in the Corporate Governance: Providing Strategic Direction towards Achieving the Mandate of the Legal Aid Council’.
In a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, the minister advised board members of the council to keep themselves abreast with the extant laws, adding that the policies of the council must retain the force of facilitating its core objectives, which includes the provision of pro-bono legal services to indigent, economically deficient and less-privileged Nigerians.
He said the services of Legal Aid Council are geared towards reducing, to the barest minimum, incidents of human rights abuses perpetrated against nation’s citizens.
“The board’s policies must assist the council to remain the leading and pro-active provider of free, qualitative and timely legal aid services in Nigeria, ensuring social justice and the emancipation of the oppressed, reprieve to the weak and vulnerable, thereby giving voice to the voiceless,” he said.
According to Malami such steps would enable the board to bear allegiance to the motto of the Council “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” while maintaining the council’s Mission mantra: “To ensure free, effective and efficient legal aid services to indigents in Nigeria.”
The minister assured the council of the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Justice in supporting activities of the council aimed at providing strategic direction in achieving its mandates.
Malami said his office in conjunction with the Management of the Legal Aid Council have duly concluded all the requisite legal arrangements for the launch of the “Access to Justice Fund”, duly provided for under the Legal Aid Act, 2011, aimed at raising funds for the assistance of legal aid works in Nigeria.