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Legal council pledges legal services for detained protesters

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• Lagos NBA To Assist In Court Reconstruction
The Lagos State Coordinator of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) has asked the Lagos Commissioner of Police to provide it with the list of all EndSARS protest suspects in police custody so as to provide legal services for them.

This was done in response to the many complaints by families and lawyers regarding the indiscriminate arrests, detention and remand of suspected protesters across Lagos.

The request came after a strategic stakeholders’ meeting was held to discuss the unhealthy trend of indiscriminate arrest and the violation of the suspect’s constitutional right to a lawyer of his choice.

According to the Lagos co-ordinator of LACON, Mrs I. T Akingbade, over 500 suspects were paraded by the Nigerian police and were remanded based on charges of arson, murder, armed robbery and other capital offences.

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“And children as young as 15 years of age, women, girls and even senior citizens in their 70s were charged and detained for those grave offences without access to legal aid or services,” she said.

She also noted that those suspects are not well fed and the environment they are staying and sleeping is dehumanising.

“The same police that where nowhere to be found during the post-EndSARS violence are the same police now rounding up these suspects and charging them without doing any proper investigations. They have mixed up the likely guilty people with the innocent ones,” she stated.

She therefore added that LACON has taken the bold step of making this request, and if the police fails to produce the information requested then it goes without saying that there is indeed something more to this than meets the eye.

“If anything the Government says is true regarding the reformation of the police, then this is an opportunity for us to see the sincerity and transparency of the Government. Until then, we remain optimistic that the Police will indeed start to follow due process and be the police we are proud of,” she said.

In a similar development, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, has affirmed its commitment to doing all that is within its powers to assist with the reconstruction of the destroyed records and infrastructure units of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Lagos State and the Magistrates’ Court all situated at Igbosere.

The body said it is poised to create a platform that would enable members of the Branch to make financial contributions towards the rebuilding of the courts.

The Branch’s monthly meeting, which held on October 26, 2020, resolved that the judicial relation committee of the Branch should communicate with the President of the Court of Appeal, the Presiding Justice of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of Lagos State to seek audience with them to discuss short and long term measures that can be put in place to address the challenges presented to the administration of justice as a result of the unfortunate occurrences at the premises of the courts.

The meeting also resolved that the Committee should, on behalf of the Branch and to the greatest extent possible, offer to assist the Judiciary in ascertaining the extent of the loss and damage to the courts’ records that had taken place and seek to agree on a template with the courts, that would be used in re-constructing case files and court records, where they have been lost or damaged.

The NBA, through its chairman, Yemi Akangbe, stated that the Committee would advocate the speedy restoration of judicial activity in the affected courts and collaborate with the Judiciary in identifying possible options for use as interim court rooms; and also assist the courts with developing and implementing a template to fully digitalise the process of reconstructing the courts’ records and operating systems with necessary back-ups in place, to avoid a repeat of the current situation.

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