As part of its mandate and passion to create equal access to justice, the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), has said that it would be offering free legal representation in courts to 350 inmates across Correctional Centres in Lagos State.
It explained that the move followed the identification of inmates as the class of people who need support and assistance through free legal representations in courts during OPD’s periodic visits to correctional centres.
The OPD’s Director, Dr. Babajide Martins, said that the move was in line with the Federal Government’s mandate to decongest the correctional facilities across the country and ensure those awaiting trials are tried in recorded time.
According to him, 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,.
Through a statement on Sunday, he added 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 that most of them have also expressed their desire for a plea bargain to hasten their court cases.
“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 statement said.