Stakeholders last Wednesday in Abuja brainstormed on the Nigeria Bar Associations (NBA) Pro Bono (free legal services) initiative at a roundtable workshop and suggested various ways to make the scheme work.
The event supported by the European Union through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was attended by vice chairmen of various NBA branches, non-governmental organisations working in the justice sector, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), representatives of the UNODC as well as officials of the national Bar.
The workshop agreed that pro bono services can work if properly worked out. Earlier, participants were asked to explain their pro bono experiences starting with the model (how it works), the target group, challenges and sustainability.
Some of the challenges enumerated includes lack of funding, lack of ability to identify passionate minds to drive the system, lack of adequate manpower, charging of subtle fees by lawyers, lack of empathy as well as cold-feet by victims.
Participants also said the service is usually targeted at the indigents who do not have the money to pay for legal services. It also includes widowers, especially widows who are usually subjected to all manner of oppression when their spouses die.
Some of those oppression includes forceful ejection from late husbands property, torture, forced widow inheritance and deprivation. Children and orphans were also classified among this group.