Access to Justice in Nigerian Criminal and Civil Justice Systems Abstract .. Selected Essays, (Lagos: Centre for Political and Administrative Research, ) pp. The former Director-General of the Legal Aid Council, Mrs. Aisha Hassan. Legal council on aid nigerian essay. Here was as distinct an act the first atomic bomb of choice, of reason, as a boy exercises when he goes into a forest, and. Are there any in-built legal mechanisms that can be deployed to ensure the . In the same vein, Article 36 (paragraph 4) of the Constitution provides that the ordinary Nigerian can hardly afford adequate legal representation when he has a .
council essay on nigerian legal aid
He further stated the Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello, had all expressed concern over the issue of congestion in prisons and the modalities the Council was taking is a welcomed development. He assured the DG LACoN that the Nigerian Prisons are open to the Council and access to its personnel is guaranteed and asked that any other requests by the Council should be communicated to the NPS for necessary circulars to be issued or action to be taken.
He described the Council as a sister agency that is very crucial to the running of the Nigerian Prisons Service. He said they would continue to furnish the Council with month by month reports on the number of ATPs within the prisons. Representatives of the Pro bono Clearing House paid a visit to Mr. They were received by the DG and Management members of the Council.
He is Barrister Aliyu Bagudu Abubakar. An indigene of Kebbi State, Barr. He has since assumed duties. The Commission works through reports or communications from State parties, individuals, groups of individuals and NGOs. The Commission will only entertain Communications relating to human and peoples' rights that meet the following criteria: The Court is located in Arusha, Tanzania.
Article 5 2 , ibid. The Court can apply as sources of law any relevant human rights instrument ratified by the State in question, in addition to the African Charter Unlike the African Commission, the African Court possesses the authority to issue a binding and enforceable decision on cases brought before it.
Article 76 2 of the Revised Treaty and Articles 9 21 Article 3 22 Article 7 23 They include for instance, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the various conventions of humanitarian law, those adopted by the International Labour Organization, and even several environmental treaties.
The first case the Court handled was the case of Mr. Afolabi Olajide vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria He submitted that the appellant had no right of direct access to the Court. He contended that under Article 9 of the Protocol, the only instance a national would have access to the Court is when his country brings action on his behalf.
The Court while striking out the proceedings, held that the contracting parties to the Protocol are the member states of the ECOWAS and that the applicant could not bring the proceedings against his country or member state, which is saddled with the responsibility of instituting proceedings on his behalf. The Court, would have made a landmark decision on the interpretation of the rights under the African Charter, bothering on human rights, but for the denial of jurisdiction.
Criticisms of the provisions of the Protocol and the effect on the individual necessitated the adoption of the 26 See Banjo A. Under the amendment, individuals and corporate bodies can bring action for the determination of an act or inaction of a community official, which violates the rights of the individuals or corporate bodies.
Individuals can also apply for relief for violation of their human rights. All that is required now is for member states to ratify the Supplementary Protocol. The Nigerian Judiciary One of the prerequisites of a well established democracy is a liberated, strong, impartial and well motivated judiciary.
It should inspire belief of citizens that justice shall be done in all cases. C 23 Laws o f the Federation of Nigeria, See also the provisions of section 6 6 a which extends the judicial powers of the courts to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law. This situation remains so for the average Nigerian for a myriad of reasons aptly articulated by Justice Oputa.
In his words: The Court cannot adjudicate upon and effectuate his rights unless there is a suit complaining about the breach or threatened breach of these rights filed in court. The people especially the illiterate masses of our country do not even know what their human rights are. They may therefore not even know when those rights have been or are being infringed.
Even if the ordinary citizen knows of his rights and knows that they are being infringed, he may be too afraid to sue the powers that be. It does require considerable courage to drag the Chief Executive or functionaries of the Government to Court. And very few people have that courage. In this respect, it should be politically insulated from the legislative and the executive power. That is, 33 Oputa C. Nigerian Law Publications Ltd.
In this respect, separation of powers requires that the judiciary alone holds all powers relative to the judicial function and the legislative and executive branches may not interfere in any aspect of the judicial branch.
Any pressures upon the judiciary should be opposed by all groups. Fiscal independence and accountability are vital to the development of the Nigerian judiciary. However, to reap their benefits and ensure the long- term sustainability of the developments, the judicial appointments system must also be reformed.
The current rules and procedures for screening and nominating judges must be improved to ensure that they are transparent and respond to the need to nominate competent and impartial members of the bar. International Commission of Jurists January and December, Incentives and institutional support must be improved to encourage capable candidates to volunteer for judicial posts, and encourage desirable incumbents to remain in government service.
Setting clear objectives concerning: Access to justice ii. Timeliness and quality of the trial process iii. Public confidence in the courts iv. Efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with public complaints, and 35 The project is part of a larger international judicial reform initiative guided by an international Judicial Group on Strengthening Judicial Integrity, formed in April by the Chief Judges of Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, etc.
Nigeria, Uganda and Sri Lanka volunteered to pilot test some of the identified reform measures. Co-ordination throughout the criminal justice system. The introduction of measurable performance indicators for the above mentioned objectives; including institutional integrity, judicial independence, the abuse of substantive and procedural discretion, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system.
The establishment of a coalition of key stakeholders, representing the three pillars of integrity, namely, the justice system institutions, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ICPC , the civil society, represented by the Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs , the mass media and the Bar Association. The fast track implementation of reform measures, which have potentials to impact standards of judicial conduct, raise public confidence in the judicial system and strengthen the rule of law.
Increased awareness regarding the: Negative impact of corruption b. Levels of corruption in the judiciary c. The role of the judiciary in combating corruption d. The various judicial reform efforts. Access to Justice in Criminal Matters The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirms that everyone is entitled to the equal protection of the law; that the accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, in a fair and public hearing, by an "independent and impartial" tribunal; and that no one should suffer arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights37 provides that anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. The Covenant grants anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention free access to a court, in order that the court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention 36 Ibid.
Article 7, goes further to emphasize the above provision by stating that every individual shall have the right to have his cause heard. The right to have his cause heard consists of certain ingredients which the article enumerates as follows: The Charter prohibits condemning anyone for an act or omission which did not constitute a legally punishable offence at the time it was committed and inflicting penalty for an offence for which no provision was made at the time it was committed.
Punishment is personal and can be imposed only on the offender. The Constitution is the major domestic statute that provides protection for persons accused of crimes. Besides the fundamental human rights provisions which have some elements of equal protection and equal treatment of citizens, section 36 4 of the Constitution41, is specific on giving justice to the offender. The rights under the fair hearing provisions are basically concerned about due process and they are covered by section 36 4 - They include: The Report revealed that most inmates in Nigerian prisons are too poor to afford a lawyer, with only one 45 Section 36 6 b , ibid.
The report went on to state that only 91 legal aid lawyers work in the country and stated the appalling prison conditions, which included severe overcrowding, which seriously damage the mental and physical health of thousands. Some were arrested in place of a family member the police could not locate; others suffer from mental illness and were brought to prison by families unable or unwilling to take care of them.
Most have no lawyer to advocate on their behalf. The philosophical basis of the right to counsel was articulated by Samuel Dash,58 when he said: See also http: The vast majority of people charged with crimes in Nigeria as in many other countries cannot afford private counsel.
Although international standards require provision of free and effective legal assistance to all Law Review, 47, April State, , 1 N. See also, Okoduwa v. State, , 2 N. R, pt. State, , pt.
The African Conference on the Rule of law also emphasized the need for equal access to law for the rich and the poor. Sections 35 2 63 and 36 6 c 64 of the Constitution make provisions for a person accused of crime to engage a counsel of his choice. There is no provision in the Constitution guaranteeing access to counsel for the poor. The only place the Constitution mentions provision of legal aid for the poor is under section 46 4 b , which empowers the National Assembly to make provisions for rendering financial assistance to any indigent citizen of Nigeria, for the purposes of prosecuting his claims as infringement of the rights under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.
This provision appears to be a dormant provision. Till date, there is no known legislation that provides for financial assistance to an indigent citizen. Some learned commentators have questioned the reality in the provisions of section 17 2 A of the Constitution that every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.
He goes further to elucidate that despite the Legal Aid Scheme, which plays a therapeutic role, legal assistance cannot change the existing social, economic and political relationships. He asked the hypothetical question: He queried: Is our Criminal Process, which makes the quality of justice an accused person gets, dependent on his financial resources, in harmony with the fundamental social objectives of the constitution to the effect that: Selected Essays, Lagos: Centre for Political and Administrative Research, pp.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR , does not expressly guarantee right to pre-trial assistance of counsel, yet, the right has been given international recognition by the American Convention, ; European Convention, ; and the African Charter, Principle 1 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, establishes the right to assistance at all stages of criminal process, including interrogations.
The European Court has in the case of Murray v. Submitted by Daniel Pinto. Report of Human Rights Committee vol. Aisha Hassan Baba, revealed that due to shortage of funds, the Council was not able to provide legal aid to the category of persons who require it in Nigeria. According to her, the under funding of the Scheme created a chain reaction of other problems such as inadequately experienced staff, lack of relevant facilities such as office equipment, reference books, stationery, transportation for visits to prisons and police stations, computers etc.
What Services Do People Need? Other problems confronting the Council which originate from human resources angle include: Another major impediment of the Scheme is that many Nigerians are still unaware of the existence of the Legal Aid Council, while those who are aware are skeptical about their ability to deliver on its mandate.
Concept and Issues, in Akpala S. Bisi Akinlade while giving an account of their activities since inception, stated that about 50 persons charged with armed robbery have been discharged on merit due to the efforts of her office, and not less than accused persons charged with minor offences have been discharged or their matters tried on their merits. Akinlade testified: Besides, these legal aid providers enumerated above, a Pro Bono Protocol on Juvenile Justice is currently being developed, in order to assure legal aid for juveniles.
Some of the prominent NGOs that offer such services include: See A. The NGOs expose human rights violations, condemn infringement of human rights, fight for the release of persons unlawfully detained, and render humanitarian assistance to victims of human rights violations They spread their tentacles to every stage of criminal proceeding.
Besides the visits they pay to prisons and police stations to interview inmates and select deserving cases for intervention, they also receive applications from accused persons, soliciting their legal aid. These organizations are very valuable, and quite remarkable in the complementary roles they play in the legal aid scene. This complimentary role is however not strong enough, and there is need for them to work more closely to achieve a more focused system of legal aid.
The Nigerian Bar Association NBA and Individual Lawyers The provision of legal services to the poor presents one of the greatest moral challenges to the legal profession The Nigerian Bar Association, with its various branches spread all over the Federation, occasionally takes up the defence of some indigent accused persons.
Individual members of 83 C. Okonkwo, Legal Aid Services in Nigeria: Historical and Humanitarian Perspective in S. Akpala Ed. International Commission of Jurists , , p. Section 12 of the Legal Aid Act, requires the Council to maintain a list of lawyers in each State, willing to take legal aid cases, either free or for a fee. Adeyemi has suggested the introduction of mandatory Pro bono services in the legal profession as a condition for obtaining practicing licences This entails that every lawyer must present evidence of having handled, at least, three pro bono cases in a single year before his practicing licence is renewed.
Akin Oyebode is of the opinion that the efforts of the Legal Aid Council needs to be complimented by private initiatives of the more visible and successful members of the profession, not just as an insurance policy but as a premium due to their fellow men and women.
Section 36 4 of the Constitution provides that whenever any person is 85 A. Law and Nation Building, ibid, p. Section 35 4 also provides again for a trial within a reasonable time, failing which the suspect should be released. In the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometers, a period of one day; and b. In any other case, a period of two days or such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable.
Advocates or "barristers" serve a small fraction of the populace, working only in high courts while attorneys or "solicitors" serve those appearing in lower court - the majority of the populace. If South African citizens in need of legal aid make more than these amounts they are recommended to find legal aid in a form other than state provided private counsel otherwise known as "judicare legal aid. These clinics also strive to give legal exposure to students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to pursue law school due to financial limitations.
Criminal justice is the sector with the greatest need for free legal representation in South Africa as it is often marginalized folks of color who are criminalized and cannot afford representation. This is because prior to the Constitution justice in the eyes of the law was not a guaranteed right, meaning the state had no obligation to make legal representation accessible to all South Africans. However once the Constitution was written the South African government was obliged to create organizations such as the Legal Aid Board to help facilitate access to legal aid in as many forms as possible.
For those who seek assistance and are aware of their own role in the justice system, Legal Aid in South Africa is available through:. All of these services exist and are protected by various political actions that ensure state subsidization by the Legal Aid Board or other incentives for lawyers to do legal work at a discounted rate or often without compensation at all.
Article 39A of the Constitution of India , provides for equal justice and free legal aid:. The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
This Article emphasises that free legal service is an inalienable element of 'reasonable, fair and just' procedure, for without it a person suffering from economic or other disabilities would be deprived of the opportunity for securing justice. The Legal Services Authorities Act, made drastic changes in the field of legal services. It is an Act to constitute legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
A number of delivery models for legal aid have emerged. The Legal Services Corporation was authorized at the federal level to oversee these programs. In a "staff attorney" model, lawyers are employed by levels of government on salary solely to provide legal assistance to qualifying low-income clients, similar to staff doctors in a public hospital.
In a "judicare" model, private lawyers and law firms are paid to handle cases from eligible clients alongside cases from fee-paying clients, much like doctors are paid to handle Medicare patients in the U. Defendants under criminal prosecution who cannot afford to hire an attorney are not only guaranteed legal aid related to the charges, but they are guaranteed legal representation, either in the form of public defenders , or in absence of provisions for such or due to case overloads, a court-appointed attorney.
The discussion surrounding legal aid and who is privileged to such a service has been criticized by law academics who assert that those who dominate and write the narratives of people who seek legal aid are individuals who benefit from the client narrative being one of inescapable poverty and desperation of an individual.
Critiques assert that these asymmetrical, schematically constructed client profiles are required of civic legal aid programs in the capitalist framework of the United States as a tool to appeal to donors and other sources of funding. These representations and assessments of who seeks and deserves legal aid are argued to contribute to a culture of blaming the victims of poverty, as the narratives exclude the role the state and other civic stakeholders play in the creation of these client circumstances.
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Legal aid in the United States. February Legal Aid under Advanced Capitalism". The Transformation of Legal Aid: Comparative and Historical Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 July Archived from the original on 3 March Archived from the original on Retrieved CS1 maint: Past Experience and Future Developments".
Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 28 August Retrieved 12 March European Commission. Associazione Art. Foreign Affairs. Fordham International Law Journal. S—S — via Heinonline. September Past to Present, Local to Global".
Sydney Law Review. Journal of African Law. University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Legal Aid under Advanced Capitalism,". Archived from the original on 29 July Perle, Securing Equal Justice for All: Seattle Journal for Social Justice. Substantive human rights. Please note: What is considered a human right is controversial and not all the topics listed are universally accepted as human rights.
Cannabis rights Equality before the law Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention Freedom of assembly Freedom of association Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment Freedom from discrimination Freedom from exile Freedom of information Freedom of movement Freedom of religion Freedom from slavery Freedom of speech Freedom of thought Freedom from torture Legal aid Liberty LGBT rights Nationality Personhood Presumption of innocence Right of asylum Right to die Right to a fair trial Right to family life Right to keep and bear arms Right to life Right to petition Right to privacy Right to protest Right to refuse medical treatment Right of self-defense Security of person Universal suffrage.
Economic, social and cultural. Digital rights Equal pay for equal work Fair remuneration Labor rights Right to an adequate standard of living Right to clothing Right to development Right to education Right to food Right to health Right to housing Right to Internet access Right to property Right to public participation Right of reply Right of return Right to science and culture Right to social security Right to water Right to work Trade union membership.
Corporal punishment. Civilian Combatant Freedom from genocide Prisoner of war Wartime sexual violence.
The concept of Legal aid in Nigeria can be said to have been birthed in . or attempting or conspiring to commit, any of the offences listed in paragraph A. Legal Aid Council of Nigeria. LEGAL ACCESS FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL PAYS VISIT TO LACoN. The Legal Access Foundation International led by Mr. Laws of the Federation of Nigeria - LEGAL AID ACT. An Act to provide for establishment of a Legal Aid Council which will be responsible for .. by him shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of N