THE NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Volume 14, No. 1, (2016)
Factors Underlying Utilization of Legal Aid Scheme by Awaiting Trial Inmates in Agodi Prisons Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Rasidi Akanji Okunola & Chinedu Ernest Dinne
Department of Sociology Faculty of the Social Sciences University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
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This exploratory study examined the challenges encountered by a high number of Awaiting Trial Inmates (ATIs) in the context of the low utilisation of the free services of legal aid council in Agodi prison Ibadan, Oyo State. Max Weber’s Life chances theory was used as the theoretical framework. Survey-Questionnaire was administered on 188 sampled ATIs and 144 prison warders. This was complemented with key informant interviews with10 officers of the legal aid council and some structured observation sessions. The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS, while the qualitative data was analysed using manual content analysis involving narrative analysis and verbatim quotations. Over 93% of the respondents attributed the high number of awaiting trial inmates in Agodi prison to missing case files, inability of ATIs to pay their bail or provide a surety; Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) delay in advising the police on cases to prosecute and police inability to promptly prosecute and investigate cases. Inability to procure the service of a private counsel, type of offence committed and availability of legal aid counsel are some of the factors underlying utilization of legal aid counsel. It was found that there is a significant relationship between the type of crime committed and by and the time ATIs have spent in the prison. To improve the utilization of legal aid council by ATIs in Agodi prison there is need for massive personnel recruitment of legal aid council, adequate logistics should be provided for the legal aid council, Police in conjunction with the DPP should be prompt in investigation.
Keywords: awaiting trial inmates, legal aid council, access/utilization