Lagos State Government has reaffirmed its commitment to providing free legal representations to awaiting trial inmates in the State especially inmates who have taken advantage of the plea bargain system aimed at ensuring a quicker release from custody than a full trial.
According to a statement released by the Public Relations Officer(PRO) of the Directorate of Citizens Rights(DCR), Mrs Taiwo Ade-Balogun, the assurance was made last Tuesday by the Director of Citizen’s Rights, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya during the quarterly visitation to Ikoyi, Kirikiri and Badagry Correctional Centres in the State.
Mrs Odusanya , represented by the duo of Assistant Director, Mrs. Yetunde Alonwole and Chief State Counsel, Mrs.Adewunmi Odunaiya at the centres, stated that the Directorate of Citizens (DCR), in conjunction with the Office of Public Defender (OPD) and Community Service Unit (CSU), will ensure that awaiting trial inmates have access free legal representations.
She noted that the quarterly visitations to the three correctional centres as approved by the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo,S.A.N is geared towards free access to justice irrespective of gender, faith or social status.
In her address which focused on sensitizing the inmates on free legal services, she explained that the Ministry of Justice is manned by competent lawyers and scores of administrative and support staff who are adequately skilled to provide on-spot advice to awaiting trial inmates while urging them to take advantage of the benefits given by the State government in accessing justice irrespective of their status.
She averred that the Lagos State Government is determined to decongest the correctional centers due to the high percentage of incarcerated individuals who are yet to be convicted through the prison watch services of the Directorate.
“The Directorates also conduct prison watch services to ensure that inmates are kept under humane conditions and their fundamental human rights are not violated, especially awaiting trial inmates that are presumed innocent until convicted by a law court” Odusanya said.
Also speaking, the Assistant Controller in-charge of Ikoyi Corrections, ACC. Dare Opadeji expressed his utmost gratitude on behalf of the inmates to the Lagos State Government, Attorney General and the Directorate of Citizen’s Rights, Ministry of Justice, saying that the periodic visits gives hope of freedom especially inmates on the awaiting trial register.
The Controller also appealed to the Lagos State Government to intervene urgently and provide legal representations to inmates charged with minor crimes but are in confinement due to their inability to afford legal representations during their various hearings in court.
Items distributed to the inmates includes Antiseptic disinfectants, Air fresheners, Insecticides, Toothbrushes, Slippers, Hand sanitizers, Shaving sticks, Sanitary towels, Detergents, Brooms and other sanitary materials.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
DIRECTORATES OF CITIZENS RIGHT