No fewer than 105 applications have been received by the Legal Aid Council in Akwa Ibom State, out of which 96 were criminal cases while nine are civil.
The state Coordinator of the Legal Aid Council, Mr. Ogbenyi Ogah, who disclosed this during an interview with journalists on the activities of his council within the past six months, said out of the number 63 criminal cases had been treated.
Ogah explained that of the 63 criminal cases concluded, some were carried over cases from previous years while some were within the current year.
“Within the first six months of the year, the council has successfully concluded 63 criminal cases and seven civil cases.
“Of the 63 criminal cases concluded this year some of them are cases carried over from previous years while some are applications received this year.
“In the first six months of 2014, we have recorded a total of 105 applications received from clients within the state. Of the 105 cases received, 96 are criminal cases while nine are civil cases.
“Of the 96 criminal cases received, the matters are pending in both High Courts and Magistrate Courts at various locations in the state,” he said.
However, he complained of inadequate manpower to cope with workload of cases within his jurisdiction.
According to him, with nine High Courts in Uyo capital and other judicial divisions spread across the state, five lawyers were grossly inadequate to cope with the workload.
“One of our major challenges is personnel because in this state we have only five lawyers. Five lawyers cannot effectively cover the state as we want our services to go round the entire state.”
He appealed to the state government to assist the council with utility vehicles to enable it cover the entire judicial division and render legal services to the less privilege in the society.
The state Legal Aid Council Coordinator said the council had written several letters to this effect to the state government but were yet to receive any favourable response.
Ogah promised that any assistance given to the council would be used exclusively to render free legal services to the indigent people in the state.
The council coordinator appealed to residents in the state, especially those who cannot afford legal fees to avail themselves of the services of the organisation, as it was free.