Legal Aid Council (LAC) of Nigeria, Lagos
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The Legal Aid Council (LAC) of Nigeria was established under the Legal Aid Act No. 56 of 1976 which was amended by Cap 205, 1990 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, and repealed in 2011 by the Legal Aid Act 2011.
The LAC began life as an Association of Public Defenders, through the concerted efforts of notable legal luminaries such as Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, Debo Akande and Solomon Lar and many others. The intention of that group of lawyers was to provide free legal services to indigent suspects. The efforts of the Association were recognized and given formal, legal status by the government of General Olusegun Obasanjo (as he then was) in 1976.
The LAC is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. As a formal body, it may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
The LAC’s statutory duty is to provide free legal representation, assistance and advice, together with alternative dispute resolution services. The LAC conducts its operations through offices in 36 states, 6 zonal offices, Legal Aid Centres (10 for now) in Local Government Area Councils and with its headquarters in Abuja.
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.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
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.
The legal Aid Council (LAC) was established pursuant to the promulgation of the Legal Aid Decree No. 56 of 1976 later amended by the Legal Aid Act Cap L9, Law of the Federation, 2004 and now repealed by the Legal Aid Act 2011 to enhance the Rule of Law through the provision of free Legal assistance and advice to the needy.
LAC services are geared towards reducing to the barest minimum incidents of Human Rights abuses perpetrated against the citizenry by either the law enforcement agents or the affluent in the society. By extension LAC is in the vanguard for social Justice and emancipation of the oppressed, the weak and the vulnerable groups, thus, “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”.
The head office of LAC is situated at Block C, 3rd Floor, Head of Service, Phase II, Federal Secretariat Complex, Bullet House, Abuja. In addition, the Council has offices in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, besides establishing offices in six geo-political zones of Jos, Yola, Kaduna, Lagos, Owerri and Enugu.
Access to Justice in Nigeria has been a major problem, many years of prolong military rule has ensured that the Legal Aid Scheme has been underfunded and has had a low priority on the national agenda.
Lack of Publicity and inadequate information on access to justice has been another factor which rendered the Legal Aid service inaccessible to those that the Legal Aid Scheme was set up to protect. Many people with either Legal problems or in need of Legal assistance were never exposed to availability of this service. However, the situation started to change for the better with LAC embarking on mass campaign programs to educate the generality of the society on the activities of the LAC and the benefits derivable there from.
This publication will focus on explaining, in a simplified manner, the process and the procedure to be followed in order to receive Legal Assistance. Furthermore, an attempt shall be made to explain in simple term the different ways, in which the Legal Aid Council can assist people in need and the category or class of people who can be assisted.