The Kogi Government through the Ministry of Justice has established the State Office of the Public Defender and Citizens’ Right Commission (PDCRC), to provide legal aid and other related services free of charge to citizens who may not be able to afford the services of lawyers.
The Director General of PDCRC, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, disclosed this when he led a team of lawyers from the Commission on an advocacy visit to some stakeholders in the state.
The stakeholders visited include: the State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Peter Maigari; State Commissioner of Police, CP Ede Ekpeji; Nigerian Correctional Service, Kogi Command, CC. Abubakar Gurim; and the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barr. Sam Owoyomi.
Zakari also added that the State Government had employed 150 lawyers for adequate manpower to enhance the speedy administration of criminal justice law across the state.
Zakari noted that the bill establishing the Commission was signed into law by His Excellency, Gov. Yahaya Bello, on June, 3, 2019, saying its vision is to ensure that the justice sector in the state was reformed and better for it with speedy dispensation of justice.
He added that the Commission has power to investigate and make recommendations, prison decongestion, and also ensure the protection of the fundamental human rights of residents of the state.
He commended the state governor for his commitment and political will in ensuring justice for all citizens, while extolling the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Mr Sani Mohammed SAN, for the critical transformation he had brought to the sector particularly in the last four years.
The director general stressed that the purpose of the visit was to introduce the Commission and her activities to the relevant stakeholders with the view to seek their cooperation and synergy to bridge the gaps in the administration of justice in the state.
He, therefore, called for effective partnership from all the relevant stakeholders in terms of support and awareness to ensure that the residents of the state have direct access to justice irrespective of tribes, religion or affiliation.
”Providing access to justice is a core responsibility of any government globally, but we will need the support and active collaboration of the relevant stakeholders,” Zakari said.
He emphasized that the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJl), the employment of more Law Officers and the establishment of PDCRC was to demonstrate His Excellency, Gov. Yahaya Bello’s commitment to the Justice Sector reforms, and commended the State’s Attorney General for driving the reforms.
In their separate responses, all the heads of the various stakeholders visited, commended the State Government and the Ministry of Justice for the gesture, saying it would make the residents of the state to have access to justice especially the downtrodden.
The stakeholders futher assured the state government of their readiness to collaborate and synergise with the Commission in their various capacities in achieving its goals.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Ede Ekpeji, however, enjoined the commission to also ensure that perpetual criminals are prosecuted and put out of circulation, for the safety of the society.