Group seeks review of nation’s legal aid system

Absence of judge stalls trial of Atewe, Akpobolokemi
A human rights group, Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative, has called for the provision of electronic recording facilities in courts to ensure effective record-taking by judges and magistrates nationwide.

The group, in its judicial integrity project, expressed worries that the continuous writing in long hands by judges and magistrates has contributed greatly to the delay in justice dispensation.

Speaking yesterday at a forum to submit report of its findings in the country’s judicial sector, the group through its Programme Manager, Barbara Maigari, said proper equipment of courts, as well as conducive working environment, would go a long way in addressing some of the issues affecting quick and efficient dispensation of justice in the country.

Maigari noted that although some courts were equipped with microphones and electronic recording facilities, it was still below 13 per cent at the magistrate’s courts and between 36 and 42 per cent in high courts.

“This therefore indicates that most judges and magistrates are still recording their proceedings manually,” he said.

The group, therefore, recommended an immediate review of legal aid system in the country with a view to ascertaining how well it has realised its mandate.

It noted that the legal aid services, which are constitutionally guaranteed for court users, were not adequate in the country.

According to Maigari, the project embarked upon by the group, aimed at increasing civil society’s access to government information as a tool to fight judicial corruption, enhances access to justice and expands the opportunity for citizens to have engagement with government.

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