By Ogar Monday; House of Assembly Correspondent
The bill to establish the Cross River State Centre for Citizens Right and Public Defender has passed the second reading in the Cross River State House of Assembly.
Speaking in support of the bill, the leader of the house, Moses Ucheche said that there has been a department in the ministry of justice with a similar role that was formed since September 2013 and for some unknown reasons has failed to perform optimally hence the need for its overhaul with a center taking over its responsibilities with clear cut objectives.
Ucheche who sponsored the bill, argued that the centre when created, will provide pro bono legal services for people who cannot afford legal services, educate members of the public on their rights and obligations, conduct visitations to prisons and serve as a center for dispute resolution.
Also, the member representing Calabar South 1 constituency, Ephraim Okon in his argument, posited that the bill was necessary as the department of public defender as currently constituted in the ministry of justice does not know its job with the staff seemingly overwhelmed by the responsibility before them.
The speaker, John Gaul-Lebo in his ruling described the bill as one that lays support to the justice sector reform, as it finds worthy companions in the child rights law that the state has domesticated, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law amongst others which seek the quick dispensation of justice and efficient resolution of disputes.
A 5-man committee headed by the member representing Yala 2, Ugana Lukpata was set up with the mandate of working on the bill and presenting its recommendations to the house within 21 days.
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