Yes? Then you need a public defender. Public Defenders are lawyers paid and appointed by government to represent people who need the services of a lawyer but cannot afford to pay for the services.

Many of people falsely believe that such concepts only exist in foreign justice systems and only see them acted out in dramas and television series.

Lagos State being a State with pro-active governments established the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) in July 2000 to aid Lagos State residents who have no access to justice and to reduce the number of people who resort to self help when the justice system seemingly fails them. These legal services range from legal advice to representation in civil or criminal cases.

One of the major aims of the Office of the Public Defender is to ensure equality of rights across the classes- rich, middle class and poor; vulnerable members of the society like women, children, physically-challenged, retirees, victims of domestic violence and the aged.

The OPD is a statutory body meaning it has rights to sue and be sued. It institutes and takes on all kinds of cases including:

Widow/orphan maltreatment and oppression;
Enforcement of fundamental human rights;
Dismissal from employment or retirement without payment of benefits;
Deprivation of bail for an offence which is bail-able;
Unlawful arrest or detention;
Child abuse and neglect and all forms of domestic violence.

The OPD also assists Non- Governmental Organisations in the fight against rape and other forms of domestic violence as these agencies may not have the political clout to pursue these cases till justice is attained.

Before rendering assistance to people, the OPD considers the peculiar circumstances of the case, the social standing and living conditions of the individuals to ascertain eligibility for their services. It does not aid only the poor but people who are powerless on their own against people, institutions and authorities.

The process for obtaining help from the OPD is simple. Approach any of the OPD offices listed below:

HEAD OFFICE:

Funsho Williams Way

Barracks/Stadium Bus stop

Western Avenue, Surulere, Lagos

Tel: 01-8975571, 01-7926928, 01-7926930

E-mail: opdlagos@yahoo.com

Website: Opdlagostate.gov.org

IKORODU OFFICE:

130, Lagos Road

Jumofak Bus Stop Ikorodu, Lagos

Tel: 01-7210890