A human rights activist, Mr Anthony Makolo on Friday, have called for the establishment of a ‘resource pool’ aimed at facilitating the provision of free legal services for indigent inmates.
Makolo made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that congestion in correctional facilities are largely due to the fact that a large number of these inmates are still awaiting trial and unable to afford legal services.
”Most of these indigent inmates are accused of offences which the law classifies as misdemeanors, adding that they ought not to linger in custody for such simple offences.
“There is a huge number of awaiting trial inmates in our correctional facilities, and this is largely due to the fact that a majority of them are indigent and unable to afford legal services.
“Although there is the office of the Legal Aid or OPD, which is saddled with the responsibility of providing free legal services; however, there is a large number of these inmates which also requires concerted efforts from other practitioners,” he said
Makolo noted that legal practitioners are often discouraged from providing free services, owing to paucity of funds, adding that these lawyers also have no “kick backs” to assist in litigation.
“So if there is a resource pool from where legal practitioners can draw funds from, to off set cost of litigation and incidental filing fees I think more lawyers will be willing to undertake pro-bono services,” he said (NAN)