Port Harcourt -The Nigeria Legal Aid Council in Port Harcourt on Monday said that it lacked enough manpower to function efficiently.
The Coordinator of the council, Mrs Jane Frances Bianeyin, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that shortage of manpower was one of the challenges of the council.
Bianeyin appealed to the Federal Government to employ more lawyers to enable it perform efficiently, while noting that civil matters and mediation had been added to its mandate.
She said that to achieve justice, especially in criminal matters, accused persons must be represented in court by lawyers.
The council offers free legal services to indigent persons.
“Nearly everybody in Port Harcourt prison is our client, 90 per cent of the criminal cases in the Port Harcourt prison are our clients,’’ she said.
She said that lawyers in the council handle as much as 25 cases, noting that this did not create the chance for efficiency on the part of the lawyer.
“When will the lawyer have the time to read, do his research, compare note with another lawyer and compare this file with that file.
“It is not a question of going to court everyday, announcing Legal Aid Council,’’ she said.
According to her, there is the need for the council’s lawyers to prepare for the matters they handled on behalf of the council’s clients.
She said the council received 159 applications between June and Nov. 16, 2015, adding that 68 applications were criminal matters while 91 were civil matters.
The coordinator said that 63 cases were completed during the period.(NAN)