Legal Aid Board lectures Nigerians on their rights
October 3, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Ahead of the 56th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, the Legal Aid Board of Sierra Leone on Friday, 30th September, lectured Nigerians in the country about their rights and further admonished them to stay away from trouble in order to make their High Commissioner proud.
Speaking at an auspicious ceremony organised by MoneyGram at the Nigeria High Commission Conference Hall, Hill Station, in Freetown, Executive-Director of the Legal Aid Board, Mrs. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles assured the Nigerian community that they would be represented by the board once they are resident in Sierra Leone.
She informed them that the Legal Aid Board was established in 2012 by an Act of Parliament to provide accessible, affordable, credible and sustainable legal aid services to persons resident in Sierra Leone, including foreign nationals that cannot afford to hire the services of a lawyer to represent them in court.
She said they also help to settle other related matters like land disputes between communities, among several others.
Mrs. Claire-Hanciles, a lawyer herself who plied her trade with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, noted that there were lots of Nigerians in correctional centres in Sierra Leone, but that with the intervention of current Nigerian High Commissioner in the country, H.E. Gladys Modupeola Quist-Adebiyi, lots of them have been released.
She praised the High Commissioner for working tirelessly to protect the rights of members of the Nigerian Community in Sierra Leone, and called on them to work collaboratively with their envoy by staying away from activities that could take them to prison.
She continued that the Legal Aid Board protects the rights of everybody in Sierra Leone without limitation to nationality, stating that as long as the person was below the minimum age and cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent him or her in court, the board would provide that individual with a lawyer.
“In Sierra Leone, we really do care and have respect for Nigerians because they were the ones who rescued our country from the 11 years civil war. And during that era, lots of them got killed and the government of Sierra Leone will not be able to pay them back for such lost,” she said.
She disclosed that over 40 percent of the youth in the country are in prison and the common crime that usually commit is larceny.
In her statement, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone stated that this year’s independence celebration was dedicated to Nigerians, thus the decision to have the Legal Aid Board talk on legal rights and responsibilities of Nigerians living in Sierra Leone.
She said the lecture was graciously anchored by the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board and thanked the executive-director of the Board and her team for putting their best feet forward in joining them celebrate the Nigerian Day.
She said independence was all about rights, freedom and justice, and thanked President Ernest Koroma for instituting the Legal Aid Board, which clarion call was informed by the need to provide legal representation to the under-privileged.
She said the Board was living up to its mandate as they recently launched their ‘Scaling up access to justice, leaving no one behind’ which she said has rekindled hope to the hopeless in the society.
She continued that the Nigerian Government, through institutional restructuring and reform policy, was working tirelessly to get the country out of the on-going recession and its Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), a build-up to the 2017 budget.
She said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was developing and implementing social safety nets to address the scourge of poverty, hunger and unemployment particularly among youth, as well as social inclusion both domestic and foreign.
She said the Nigerian economy would continue to be resilient with its emerging market and expanding banking and financial sectors, world class qualified personnel, durable communication and technological system and a vibrant entertainment sector.
She continued that the Nigerian economy was currently being diversified into agriculture and solid minerals, adding that with those policies of the government, Nigeria would bounce back.
She said defeating insurgency and finding a durable solution to the underlying causes of insecurity in Nigeria remains a priority to her government and reiterated that Nigeria, like the rest of the world affected by subversive acts of insurgency was still pursuing the path of multilateralism.
“I wish to implore all well-meaning Nigerians in Sierra Leone and the diaspora to be patient and more patriotic towards government and its reform policies. The government needs our support in this trying period and all hands must be on deck to salvage our country,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of MoneyGram International, Dr. Julius Spencer said the institution is a money transfer company based in the United States with regional and local offices around the world.
He said MoneyGram was the fastest and safest means of sending money from one country to another and that the reason why they decided to celebrate with the embassy of Nigeria was because nearly all the banks in Nigeria were working with MoneyGram.