Solicitor General Advocates More Use Of Pro Bono Services

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Omamuzo Erebe

Mediaage NG News – ABUJA, Nigeria (Wednesday 24th April, 2024)

The Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Justice, Omamuzo Erebe on Tuesday advocated for increase use of pro bono services by lawyers, with regards to access to justice.

He said many detainees can’t afford the services of a lawyer, therefore, need to be assisted to get them heard.

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“What we have experienced is that most lawyers do not want to do pro bono matters, probably because of the economy. Everybody wants to be paid and we all know that most defendants at our correctional centres are actually very poor and cannot afford the services of lawyers”, Barr. Erebe said at the technical session preparatory to the National Summit on Justice, while raising an observation to the revised national policy.

“So, the pro bono policy by setting up the Legal Aid Council is very good. However, there is not much they can do becaus, there are only few.

“It means that majority of our lawyers in private practice must begin to embrace pro bono services and the police need to be more stringent in that regard, either providing payment for lawyers, particularly those in private practice or rewards such like, maybe, they are planning on becoming Senior Advocates, number of cases they did on pro bono”, he added.

The Solicitor General also said some lawyers have failed to embrace information technology which can help hasten justice delivery. “It does not matter if the defendant is not in court, we can take his evidence from the correctional centre, he stated.

“It seems some lawyers are still caught in the nineteenth century. In this modern times, this is the only way (embracing technology) we can move forward.

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“Access to justice means anybody can work in and get justice. It is pertinent these days that the wait for justice will weary the litigant, that’s why someone will be in court for five or six years, yet, the case hs not been heard, that’s why we have the syndrome of awaiting trials, periods that may be longer than what he may have been sentenced to . This is why we are raising it as an issue for the policy drafters to be more emphatical.

Furthermore, he said in other climes, arrest is the last part of an investigation. Facts must be gotten first from an investigation before a decision is made on behalf if an arrest is needed or not.

“The facts you garner from an investigation will determine an arrest. With due respect, many are lazy, they don’t want to investigate. They just feel like arrest the man and hopefully, an evidence will come out.

“Lack of good structures could be a major reason for this. Something like forensic investigation is hard to come by in this country. We don’t have the facilities to conduct a forensic investigation. Like in the case of murder, the tools you need to investigate – blood, fingerprint and others, we don’t have these facilities. So, where do you expect an investigation?

“What they do is just go and arrest someone, beat and make them confess to what they might But, if they had the facilities, forensic investigation will find out if the suspect was even at the scene of the crime when the offence was committed”, Barr. Erebe concluded.

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