Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) Nigeria, a civil society organisation, said 7,996 persons were prosecuted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by COVID-19 mobile courts in two months.
The mobile courts were inaugurated by the Chief Judge of the FCT, Justice Ishaq Bello in April.
Programme Manager, NULAI Nigeria, Mr Mahmud Yusuf made this known at a Media Launch/Presentation of Study on COVID-19 Pandemic in Abuja on Tuesday.
The presentation of the report of the study, focused on “Human Rights And Access to Justice in Nigeria”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the COVID-19 study was conceptualised by Open Society Justice Initiative in partnership with NULAI Nigeria to research and reflect on the impact of the pandemic on criminal justice.
According to Yusuf, the data collected by NULAI Nigeria in the FCT, covering the period of April 23 to June 1, showed that there were 216 mobile court sittings with 7,996 persons prosecuted.
He said that to facilitate the protection of human rights and access to justice, the organisation supported FCT residents brought before the courts with legal services.
The Programme Manager said that NULAI Nigeria provided pro bono legal presentation at the 13 mobile courts locations for defendants unable to afford it.
“Pro bono lawyers provided legal representation for 2,119 defendants consisting 27 per cent of those prosecuted before the mobile courts.
“NULAI also called for review of the state of COVID-19 pandemic preparedness by all sectors to check the abuse of power recorded at the onset of the pandemic.
“The enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown regulations and other measures enacted had considerable impact on the rate of human rights violations across the Federation,” Yusuf said.
Chief Judge of the FCT Judiciary, Bello, said that the purpose of the mobile courts was to deal with clients, based on the Quarantine Act that had been adopted by the government.
Bello who was represented by the Deputy Chief Registrar, FCT Judiciary, Sharon Ishaya, said that the courts were set up to have a sense of protection for the citizenry in terms of maintaining justice, law and order in the society.
While commending NULAI Nigeria on the project, Bello said that the collation of data was important because it helped in understanding what had been done.
“It helps us to understand what we have done right, what we need to improve, and that is what this data had actually done for us within the FCT Judiciary.
“We will look at it and we will look at those issues we need to adequately improve, we cannot over – emphasise the importance of data,” he said.
Other agencies that attended the launch were, the Nigeria Correctional Service, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and Abuja Environmental Protection Board.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Razak Owolabi