Group offers free legal service to 300 persons in Rivers
To bridge the gap and help people, especially the vulnerable groups access justice, the O.B Lulu Briggs Foundation has organised a free law clinic in Port Harcourt and offered free legal advise to over 300 persons, who have suffered silence in seeking justice.
The event was organised in partnership with legal experts and organisations like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation Law Grant Alumni and final year law students of the Rivers State University to help deepen the knowledge of the law, human rights and the rule of law in the society.
Speaking, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, Dr. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, said access to justice is vital for building inclusive societies in which the voices of vulnerable persons are heard and their rights to challenge discrimination or oppression are upheld and protected.
She regretted that a lot of persons suffered in silence on account of their lack of understanding and misconceptions of the law and expressed hope that the intervention will help bridge existing gaps and ultimately lead to better access to justice for all in line with Goal 16 of the United Nations sustainable development goals, which aims to promote just peaceful and inclusive societies.
Speaking also, former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Coordinator of the Free Law Clinic, Nimi Walson Jack, said the gesture was in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the O.B Lulu–Brigss Foundation.
He decried lack of awareness in the country’s legal system, which has consequently forced many to take laws into their hands, increased disorder and criminality.
He explained that the clinic counseled and advised the beneficiaries in 10 different legal areas including; family issues, matrimonial causes, domestic violence, Wills, estate planning and inheritance, road traffic law, consumer law, amongst others, adding that some persons whose situations were outside the stipulated areas also received legal advise.
Walson-Jack said: “People who have problems but cannot approach lawyers or go to court because they do not have money or connections were here to get free legal advice on what to do and how to do it”
“If someone is dissatisfied with situations and does not know what the legal position is, such a person could take laws into their hands and you have criminality and disorder in the society, so that’s why we are here
“We give advice that helps to settle you and your position. We give legal advice that has a remedy; we also refer some cases to lawyers who do pro bono services to get help from them. So, we are trying to ensure that we have an orderly society where people are content with the situation or they know the right avenue to bring about changes.”
The former NBA Secretary stated that when there is a law-educated society, there is bound to be social harmony stressing that lack of awareness of the legal system has hampered the system a lot.
According to him, the group believes that if more people are conscious of the law, there will have a more orderly society.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke with The Guardian, Douglas Nyee and Ernest Jack described the intervention as a welcome development, stating that such a free legal clinic would help the less privileged to seek justice.
“This is a good thing. It will help vulnerable persons who do not have money to forward their cases not to remain silent anymore, they can now speak out and get justice,” they stated.