Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has announced the setting up of a special fund to assist young lawyers give free legal services to indigent persons in the state.
Speaking during the closing of Pro Bono Law Week celebration held in Lagos at the weekend, he said the rights of every citizen as enshrined in the constitution would be meaningless if people, especially the poor, “do not have access to quality legal representation.”
Fashola, who delivered a paper entitled: ‘Building A Culture of Pro Bono in Nigeria,’ said: “The idea of citizens’ rights in civil and criminal cases enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution would not be a right if those rights cannot be fully ventilated in a most qualitative and quantitative manner probably because of the absence of a counsel. It is wrong for people to be driven from the seat of justice simply because they could not afford a counsel of their choice.”
He commended those signing up to be part of the Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership, saying “they have done a great thing that is very noble going by the fact that the programme has recorded participation by 64 law firms with individual law firms in them.”
He said with the feat, the largest law firm in the country “has been probably created and possibly in West Africa,” adding that it would become a club for distinguished and eminent people with membership.
He said apart from the liberty and the defence of the rights of citizens that Pro Bono promotes, “it also engenders the best promotion of the development of law through a partnership of honour.”
Fashola noted that the significance of the contribution of the lawyers participating in the Pro Bono partnership is underscored by the fact that they were giving to the society without self seeking publicity or any recognition.