This project is designed as part of our effort to provide help to poor prisoners across Nigeria prisons and in line with our quest for prison decongestion and reform in Nigeria. Our goal to free 1000s of poor prisoners languishing yearly across Nigeria prisons.
Each year we strive to free poor prisoners in Nigeria by providing free legal services for those awaiting trial and paying off court fines for those in prisons for inability to pay court fines ranging from N10 000. 00 to N50 000. 00 for minor offences like hawking, loitering, street trading, and traffic offences. Poverty is the major reason why most of these categories of prisoners stay in prisons for too long and in the process some contact chronic diseases which in some cases leads to death.
This project is directly under our Legal Aid and Advocacy programs to provide free legal services to poor indigent people of Africa. We have legal practitioners who are ready to offer legal services to clients who do not have the means to engage them and pay them their professional fees.
Our offices are open to indigent Nigerians who cannot afford justice, there are no legal fees charged and when they come, they are listened to and given the options that are available. 50% of those of Nigerians who are in prison are not supposed to be in prison. The nature of our social justice system is such that a lot of people are hardened into prison without the prerequisite investigations or prerequisite explanations done by the various holding authorities. Our focus is not necessarily for those who are in the prisons awaiting trials, it entails an ordinary man on the street walking and his/ her feels their rights had been trampled upon. The issue of prison and its congestion has been a perennial problem over the years. For some of these inmates who are in prison either awaiting trials or those of them that their trials are on and their offences are bailable and therefore, there is no way they should be in prison; some of them are only there because they could not be able to meet bail conditions or pay court fines upon conviction especially for minor offences. Some of them awaiting trial have been granted bail, even in prisons or SARS facilities, but they have not been able to fulfil the bail conditions and therefore they are left to be lingering in the prisons. Nobody should be in jail when he is not supposed to be in jail. There cannot be a better tragedy than to be in to prison. Some are in prison for about 6 to 7 years without going to court, so we facilitate some of them going to court and a lot of them ere being granted bail by the various courts. We also adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism in situations where we go between the parties in order to assist them settle their disputes amicably. The system is such that by the time you try to remove some people from prison, assuming you were able to get about ten or twenty people out on bail, the following day, about 50 people are taken back in prison, so it makes it a very difficult situation. And this is why we have made this project one of our routine work on daily basis to alleviate the sufferings of the poor