LEGAL AID COUNCIL
To build a new Nigerian nation where there is equal access to justice for all irrespective of means and where all Constitutional rights are respected, protected and defended to ensure justice for all.
To remain the leading and pro-active provider of free, qualitative and timely legal aid services in Nigeria, ensuring social justice and the emancipation of the oppressed, reprieve to the weak and vulnerable thereby giving voice to the voiceless.
No. 22 Port Harcourt Crescent, Off Gimbiya Street, Area 11 Garki, Abuja.
Legal Aid Council, Nigeria (LAC) was established pursuant to the promulgation of Legal Aid Decree No. 56 of 1976 that became Legal Aid Act Cap L9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. This was repealed for the enabling and substantive Legal Aid Act 2011. The enabling law expanded the scope of the mandate of LAC to provide free legal assistance and representation, Legal advice and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to indigent Nigerians in conflict with the law as to enhance access to Justice in Nigeria.
This mandate of the Council is found in section 8 of the Legal Aid Act 2011 and more specifically as listed in the 2nd Schedule of the Act.
The Council has its head office in Abuja, 37 offices in all State Capitals of the Federation including FCT, 6 Zonal Offices and 23 Legal Aid Centres at Local Government levels.
- Abuja (FCT) Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase 1, Ground Floor.
F.C.T. Office, Open University Office Complex, Area 3, Garki, Abuja.
- Abia State 31 School Road, P.O. Box 982, Umuahia.
- Adamawa State Federal Secretariat Complex, P.O. Box 1188, Yola.
- Akwa Ibom State Federal Secretariat Complex, Abak Road 321, 3rd Floor, Uyo
- Anambra State State Secretariat, (Old Building), Ground Floor, Secretariat
- Bauchi State Federal Secretariat Complex, P.O. Box 446, Bauchi
- Bayelsa State High Court Complex, Onopa, Yenogoa.
- Benue State Block G, 508, Fmr Ministry of Finance, P.O. Box 133, Makurdi
- Borno State Federal Secretariat Complex, Maiduguri.
- Cross Rivers State 2nd Floor Left Wing, Federal Secretariat Complex, Calabar.
- Delta State Federal Secretariat Complex, Asaba.
- Ebonyi State Ministry Of Justice, Abakiliki.
- Edo State Federal Secretariat Complex, 2nd Floor Auchi Road,
- Ekiti State Ministry Of Justice Complex, Secretariat Phase III, Ground
Flr, Ado Ekiti.
- Enugu State Federal Secretariat Complex, Room 251 – 258, P.O. Box
- Gombe State Ministry Of Justice Complex, 5 New Commercial Road,
- Imo State Ministry Of Justice Complex, P.O. Box 2654, Owerri.
- Jigawa State Federal Secretariat Complex, Rooms A103 – A104, Ground
- Kaduna State Federal Secretariat Complex, 3rd Floor Room 323 – 328,
- Kano State Gidan Murtala, 1st Floor, P.O. Box 2651, Kano.
- Katsina State Federal Secretariat Complex, Dandagoro, Kano Road,
- Kebbi State Old High Court Complex, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.
- Kogi State Fmr. Premises of Ministry Of Commerce & Industry, IBB Way,
- Kwara State Governor’s Office, Ahmadu Bello Way, G.R.A., P.O. Box
- Lagos State 10 Okotie Eboh Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos.
- Nasarawa State 56 Jos Road, Opp. Oceanic Bank, Lafia.
- Niger State Federal Secretariat Complex, 8-83 Ground Floor, P.O. Box
- Ogun State Federal Secretariat Complex, Room 201-204, Abeokuta.
- Ondo State Federal Secretariat Complex, 2nd Flr, Rms 220-225, Igbatoro
- Osun State Ministry Of Justice, P.M.B. 4424, Oshogbo.
- Oyo State Ministry Of Justice Annex, State Secretariat, P.O. Box 10333,
- Plateau State 1st Flr Ministry Of Education Building, State Secretariat
- Rivers State High Court Complex, P.O. Box 15407, Port Harcourt.
- Sokoto State Federal Secretariat Complex, P.O. Box 778, Sokoto.
35 Taraba State Ministry Of Justice, Jalingo.
- Yobe State Ministry Of Justice, Damaturu.
- Zamfara State Opp. Photo Palace, Sani Abacha Way, Gusau.
LEGAL AID COUNCIL CENTRES
To bring Access to Justice to the grassroots, the Council has begun the process of establishing presence at Local government levels. To this end, the Council has opened 25 local offices called Legal Aid Centres at legal aid friendly local government secretariats. The object is to bring access to justice to the true indigent Nigerians who yearn for justice.
- Abonnema – Rivers State
- Bwari - Abuja
- Sagbama – Bayelsa State
- Suleja, Niger State;
- Bida, Niger State;
- Katsina-Ala, Benue State;
- Ogbia, Bayelsa State
- Auchi, Edo state
- Karu, Nasarawa state
- Shedam, Plateau State
- Ningi, Bauchi State
- Gwagwalada, Abuja
- Otuocha, Anambra State
- Owo, Ondo State
- Badagry, Lagos State
- Ungogo, Kano
- Erin Ile, Kwara State
- Jama’a, Kaduna State
- Kaduna South, Kaduna State
- Chikun, Kaduna State
- Sabon Gari, Kaduna State
- Warri, Delta State
- Odo-Ere, Kogi State
- Ahmadu Bello Law Clinic, Kaduna State
- Billiri, Gombe State
The Council has a total staff of 640 of which over 230 are lawyers.
LEGAL AID DELIVERY
The Council has witnessed a major boost in the number of cases handled. This can be linked to a number of initiatives geared towards the boosting of morale and motivation amongst staff such as Capacity building trainings, the peer review mechanism and the Annual Legal Aid Council Staff Awards. These initiatives have encouraged a healthy rivalry and competition amongst staff seeking to outperform each other as they vie for this recognition. The quality of service also improved due to tighter monitoring and evaluation protocols put in place by Management.
This can be seen from the statistics of cases for 2016 as drawn below:
STATISTICS OF CASES FROM JANUARY 2016 TO DECEMBER 2016
Type of case
ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL AID CENTERS
In a bid to extend the services of the Legal Aid Council to all corners of the Federation, the Council is establishing Legal Aid Centers in the LGAs of the Federation. To date, we have a total number of twenty five (25) Legal Aid Centers. Legal Aid Council is conscientiously working towards its goal of establishing Legal Aid Centers in all 774 Local Government Areas of the Federation to enable our Citizens who are largely populated in the rural areas to access free and qualitative legal services.
POLICE DUTY SOLICITORS SCHEME (PDSS)
The Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS) was initiated by Legal Aid Council, Nigeria in partnership with the Open Society for Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Nigeria Police Force in 2004 to address the problem of Pre-Trial Detention in Nigeria.
The Scheme which is a component of the Pre-Trial Detention Project was designed to ensure prompt decision making on matters relating to arrests, arraignment and prosecution of persons alleged to being in conflict with the law in Nigeria, reduce the number of detainees awaiting trial as in proportion to prison population, reduce the duration detainees spend before their trials and ensure co-ordination between the Legal Aid Council, the Nigeria Police Force and other prosecutorial authorities.
The Scheme has brought about some significant reduction in prison congestion as suspects are being offered uninterrupted legal assistance and advice at Police Stations by Duty Solicitors. The number of cases being handled through the PDSS is on the increase year on year. The PDSS cases are slowly and steadily forming a significant portion of the Council’s case profile.
Presently the PDSS is ongoing in Ondo, Rivers, Imo, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi States. With the support of Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA), Right Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE), United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and EU Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC), efforts are on to extend this project to more states in 2018.
Towards institutionalizing the Scheme, Force Order No. 20 as amended on provision of legal services in the Police Stations was presented to the public by Inspector-General of Police on the 20th of September 2017 in order to strengthen the PDSS.
We are grateful for the cooperation of our development partners on this project.
Legal Aid Council through the support of the European Union (EU), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) conducted five (5) training workshops for staff in the following areas:
- Para-legal training: A Training for non-legal staff as paralegals of the Council was held in Abuja, this is to assist lawyers of the Council.
- ICT Training: LAC Staff across the Nation were trained on ICT. Staff were divided into three batches with trainings conducted for each batch. The trainings were held in both Abuja and Lagos.
- Train the Trainer Workshop was conducted for all senior legal personnel of the Council to ensure continuous re-training of paralegal staff nationwide.
LEGAL AID COUNCIL’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY
The Council in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of its existence hosted a formal event on the 22nd of November 2016 at Bolton White Hotel, Garki, Abuja with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The occasion was a testimony to the fact that a lot has been achieved over the years by the dedication, resilience and hard work of all the management and staff of the Council including past Director Generals as well as the passion shown by past Chairmen and members of the Governing Boards of the Council in upholding and realizing the vision of the founders.
The successes achieved in recent times are mainly due to partnerships and technical assistance offered by Development Partners of the Council that have included the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Justice for All (J4A), World Bank, Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), Open Society Initiative West Africa (OSIWA), United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI), Prisons Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Rights Enforcement and Public Law Center (REPLACE) amongst others.
Two publications of LACoN were formally launched at the event, namely:
- Legal Aid Through The Cases Vol. 3
The Director – General of the Legal Aid Council, Joy Bob – Manuel (Mrs.) inspired the publishing of a compendium of Legal Aid Cases chronicling various outstanding judgments obtained in cases undertaken by Legal Aid lawyers. This publication is titled ‘Legal Aid Through the Cases’.
These are in three (3) volumes so far with the third volume launched at the 40th Anniversary in 2016.
- Legal Aid @ 40
This is a publication of the Legal Aid Council that chronicles its history in the Past 40 years with contributions from stakeholders.
In partnership and support from EU, UNODC and PRAWA two other publications were equally launched on the same day. They are:
- The National Legal Aid Strategy
Legal Aid Council (LAC) with the support of the European Union (EU), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) launched the National Legal Aid Strategy which encompasses:
- The strategic plan for the Legal Aid Council.
- The strategic plan for legal aid delivery in Nigeria.
- The strategic plan for the implementation of the Legal Aid Act.
This was a result of a series of brainstorming strategy sessions conducted throughout the year. Participants were drawn from stakeholders in the Justice Sector and Legal Aid Service Delivery Sub-Sector.
The strategy will seek to radically develop legal aid provision in Nigeria, establish a vibrant paralegal scheme in Nigeria, extend the Police Duty Solicitors Scheme to all States, implement the Prison Decongestion Initiative and more importantly serve as a guide for the Legal Aid Council in achieving its mandate.
- Guide Manual on Enhancing Stakeholders’ Partnership on Pro Bono Legal Services in Nigeria.
This document is to support the justice sector at improving good governance, rule of law, effectiveness, accountability, transparency, justice, coordination and cooperation of Justice Sector Agencies, enhancing operational capacity of personnel in the Justice Sector and respect for human right especially concerning pro-bono services.
LEGAL AID PROVIDERS NETWORK
In 2016, a group of Legal Aid Service Providers drawn from across the Nation was created. The Group agreed to work in synergy and be known by the coordinating name ‘Legal Aid Providers Network’. The scope of work for the ‘Legal Aid Providers Network’ is to enhance Access to Justice for Pre-trial detainees.
Legal Aid Council coordinates the Group and appeals to interested organizations to key into the Network of Legal Aid Delivery.
DIRECTORY OF PROBONO LAWYERS.
The first ever Directory of Pro Bono Lawyers registered by Legal Aid Council was produced during the year. These are Lawyers that applied to LAC to provide free legal services to the indigent on behalf of the Council.
PARTNERSHIPS AND DONOR AGENCIES
In the period under review, the Legal Aid Council, Nigeria in the course of its activities partnered with the following agencies/organizations which provided assistance in so many areas in ensuring that LAC achieves its mandate. They are:
- Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
- Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA)
- European Union
- Justice for All (J4A)
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- Rights Enforcement and Public Law Center (REPLACE)
- Open Society for Justice Initiative (OSJI)