- By Ogar Monday; House of Assembly Correspondent
The Calabar Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association has called on the 8th Assembly to place the bill seeking the establishment of a Center for Citizens Right and Public Defender in Cross River State “side by side” with that which established the Multi Door Courthouse.
Barrister Emmanuel Idaka one of the delegates from the NBA made this known during the public hearing of the Public Defender bill held recently at the Assembly complex in Calabar.
Idaka who had earlier complained about the coinage of the language in the bill argued that leaving the bill the way it was, will lead to a contradiction between it and that which established the Multi Door Courthouse.
Earlier, the member representing Yala II constituency, Honorable Ugana Lukpata who chairs the special committee set up to look into the bill said the need for the public hearing cannot be over emphasized due to its unique nature.
He called on those invited to express themselves as it was an opportunity to fix loopholes in the law which he said has its pillars on “citizen’s right, public defender and consumer protection” before it is passed on the floor of the House.
On her part, the Director, Citizens Right in the Ministry of Justice, Barrister Florence Agbiji, described the law as timely, pointing out that it came as answered prayers to those who know the impact the law will have. She said that the center was setup since 2013 and has ever since been begging for an upgrade especially considering the success of the Lagos State example.
Also, Asi Archibong who represented the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Stella Odey, thanked the initiators of the bill as it will go a long way in assisting the ministry in settling some of the disputes on its table.
The Citizens Right and Public Defender Bill 2016 was sponsored by the leader of the House, Honorable Moses Ucheche, and when passed and assented to, by the governor, will establish a center to mediate and offer pro bono legal services for members of the public who cannot afford legal services.
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