From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
The Federal Government on Tuesday, in Abuja, held a formal ceremony to mark the renaming of the Legal Aid council Headquarters.
The building was renamed after Late Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, SAN, as an honour to him, for his pivotal role in the establishment of the Legal Aid Council.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, lauded late Ikeazor, stating that his sacrifice for the council cannot go unnoticed.
He said Ikeazor, was one of the legal luminaries who helped to set up the Nigerian Legal Aid Association, which subsequently led to the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria.
He recalled that along with a few like minds like the late Chiefs Solomon Lar, Debo Akande, and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Ikeazor founded and financed the Nigerian Legal Aid Association which was founded February 6th, 1974, with several branches across the nation and it subsequently enjoyed immense support from the Bench, pursuant to its laudable mandate, which served as a platform in providing legal aid to poor Nigerians
He said “As at the second quarter of this year alone, the Council, the establishment of which was led by Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, SAN, was able to process Legal Aid Service to 57,134 citizens, recovered over N57.m as claims/compensation for victims of motor accidents and provided defense for 224 suspects arraigned before the Federal High Court for certain offences.
“Similarly, the Special Task Force of the Council facilitated the release of 30 Awaiting Trial Inmates in Keffi Correctional Centre in addition to filing application of enforcement of fundamental rights of 101 Awaiting Trial Inmates.
“The Police Duty Solicitors Scheme of the Council currently operate in eleven States across the country. This operation has successfully diverted over 7,000 person from the Criminal Justice System and 90% of these persons left police custody during the first 5 days of arrest” Malami said
Malami, urged the management and staff of the Legal Aid Council to continue to work hard in rendering legal services to Nigerians, so that the sacrifices of the founding fathers such as Chief Ikeazor, SAN would not be in vain.
While he stressed that the success of the Council is only measured by the ability of indigent Nigerians to access justice in an efficient, timely and effective manner.
He also pledged the ministry’s support to the Legal Aid Council.
“As an institution under the supervisory purview of the Federal Ministry of Justice, I wish to pledge the Ministry’s continued support towards achieving the constitutional and statutory mandate of the Legal Aid Council”. Malami said
Malami also said the efforts of the Legal Aid Association established by Chief Ikeazor, SAN later culminated in the promulgation of the Legal Aid Decree No. 56 of 1976 (now Legal Aid Act LFN 2004).
He said the Act formally introduced the legal aid scheme into law and it was eventually incorporated into the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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