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Rule of Law and Access to Justice



The Indigent and Human Rights Defence Programme (IDP) is aimed at addressing the human rights situation of indigent remand prisoners in Nigeria and to promote positive changes in the system of criminal justice in Nigeria. The IDP is one of the public defender programmes of LEDAP through which it offers legal support, such as legal representation and counselling to very poor and vulnerable people in Nigeria. The beneficiaries are mostly indigent prison inmates who are detained for long periods of time awaiting trial. These people are in prison custody because they can not afford the cost of hiring legal representation for their trial. The project provides legal assistance to indigent persons including remand prisoners and other indigent victims of human rights violations other than those caused by the prison remand system.

The project is also concerned about support to project states on criminal justice reform advocacy. This is aimed at reforming the state–level criminal justice administration systems and advocating for the review of the law and police to facilitate effective delivery of justice.

The main objective of the advocacy component of the project is to facilitate the replication of IDP in project states as the official legal aid scheme of the state governments.

Objectives of the project

The objectives set out for the project include:

  • Depopulation of prisons through legal support and release (or conviction after trial for a certain term of imprisonment) of awaiting trial prisoners, but concentrating in Plateau, Imo, and Anambra states (the advocacy states). This advocacy has been extended to Rivers state with the opening of the IDP/LEDAP office in Port-Harcourt in 2008.
  • Improving the skills and expertise of lawyers participating in the project for human rights and criminal litigation, and legal aid case-work.
  • Improving the human rights regime and the system of administration of justice in the country through consultative forum for judges, prosecutors, police, lawyers and prison officials.
  • Improving the institutional capacity of LEDAP and contributing to its public defender programme
  • Improving the capacity of criminal justice practitioners through publication of “The Prosecutor Magazine” which is published with empowering articles and useful legal materials for lawyers.


The Nigeria law project is generally aimed at strengthening the rule of law and access to justice in Nigeria. The specific purpose of the project is to establish a nationwide system for the state-based provision of free legal representation to enable indigent defendants, and victims of human rights violations, in particular women and other vulnerable people, to better defend their rights and obtain legal redress. Under the first phase of the project implemented between 2000 and 2003, a pilot Duty Solicitor Scheme (DSS) was established with the training and mobilization of more than 400 private practice lawyers in magistrates and area court in 10 states, to provide legal representation to indigent criminal defendants and victims of human rights violations who were unable to afford legal representation. The second phase took place 2006-2009 and was implemented in 15 states of the federation, providing free legal representation to indigent prisoners and victims of human rights violations. It also entails building the capacity of pro-bono lawyers who work on the project. LEDAP also publishes a quarterly newsletter called “Duty Solicitor Scheme” (DSS)
The Project comprises:

  • Legal aid to remand prisoners and victims of human rights violations
  • Advocacy for government funded legal aid programmers at state levels
  • Legal support and rehabilitation of victims of shari’a law implementation
  • Public interest litigation to improve the rule of law and good governance
  • Prison visitations to remand prisons and prisoners on death row.
  • Offer free legal support and representation to poor awaiting trial prisoners and victims of human rights violations who cannot afford to hire Lawyers.


The project is aimed at improving criminal justice in Nigeria through capacity building of prosecutors across Nigeria and facilitating the review of criminal laws in Nigerian. LEDAP, with the financial support of the John D and Catherine T, Mac Arthur foundation has successfully carried on with the project since 2001.

The Project comprises:

  • Training of prosecutors in DPP offices and Police Prosecutors on human rights and Case Management
  • Consultative forum for reform of criminal justice in six geo-political regions of Nigeria on human rights.
  • Hands –on training of prosecutors through Internships
  • Publication of “THE PROSECUTORS” magazine
    – Based on the credible implementation and output of this project, LEDAP won the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Innovative Institution 2008.


The project is aimed at monitoring and Documenting shari’a cases and associated human rights abuses under the shari’a system in Nigeria. It also builds the capacity of local civil societies to respond to the needs of victims and demand for best practices in the administration of shari’a in shari’a states. Support to vulnerable persons in conflict with shari’a is also provided under this project.

The Project comprises:

  • Training workshop for court judges from the northern parts of the country on integrating human rights in the administration of justice in the shari’a court system in Nigeria
  • Court visitation and report writing of court proceedings
  • Observation of Judges, Lawyers, Court personnel and Physical facilities in court
  • Evaluation of reports on court activities.


This project was conceived in order to raise the awareness of Shari’a judges on human rights norms, and also to improve access to justice for the rural communities especially women and other deprived persons in northern Nigeria.

The Project comprises:
Training of shari’a court Judges on Integrating Human Rights in the administration of justice in the shari’a court system in Nigeria.

  • It helps in reducing cases of human rights abuses and injustice in the conviction of supposed offenders in the implementation of shari’a legal system.