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As foundation holds free law clinic, Seinye Lulu-Briggs says access to justice vital to building societies

Access to Justice is vital for building inclusive societies in which the voices of vulnerable persons are heard and their rights to challenge discrimination or oppression are upheld, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, Dr. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, has said.

She stated this in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, at the opening of a free law clinic for indigent members of society organized by the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation.

Mrs. Lulu-Briggs said the Law Clinic was organized in partnership with legal experts and law students to deepen understanding of the concept of human rights, and the rule of law as they affected peculiar social issues in society.

She said it was regrettable that a lot of vulnerable persons suffer in silence on account of either a lack of funding to consult lawyers, lack of understanding of their rights or a misconception of the law in general.

“Since 2009, in line with our commitment to promoting access to justice, inclusivity and the rule of law, we have invested in legal education and, by God’s grace, have funded the training of 691 Nigerian lawyers to date,” she said. “While that has its benefit to society, we believe promoting civil engagement and civic education through this Law Clinic can also go a long way in creating awareness about the law and enhancing access to justice, especially for vulnerable persons, in line with goal 16 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Free Law Clinic, which drew attendance from the public, is part of year-long activities marking the 20th anniversary of the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, founded by Dr. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs to honor and celebrate the legendary philanthropy of her husband, the late High Chief (Dr) O. B. Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF, DSSRS.

Also speaking, Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, the Coordinator of the Free Law Clinic, said free legal aid recognizes the fact that Law brings about harmony in society.

“Contrary to what some people think when they talk about the full wrath of the law the law is not necessarily for punishment,” he said. “The law brings about social cohesion and harmony. Now, if someone is dissatisfied with a situation and doesn’t know what the legal position is, such a person can take the laws into their hands and then you would have crime, criminality and disorder in society.

“But through this programme, we give you advice that helps to settle you and your position, so you know where you stand with the law. We also give you advice that is a remedy. So, perhaps all you need to do is to simply write a letter, which may not necessarily be written by a lawyer. But if it has to be written by a lawyer, just the same way lawyers have volunteered to be here for pro-bono service, there are still lawyers in law firms who do pro bono matters and we will still refer the needful cases to them to get the matter done.”

Beneficiaries of the Free Law Clinic expressed their gratitude to the Foundation for the thoughtful intervention in bringing awareness on human rights and the law closer to the people in a practical and convivial setting.

The O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation has in the last two decades consistently delivered impactful interventions in the lives of under-served persons, across communities in Nigeria. Through the 34 Free Medical Missions it organized, the Foundation has provided high-quality health services, including surgeries, to 132,591 men, women and children in rural and semi-urban Niger Delta communities.

Inmates of the Correctional Facilities in Port Harcourt are among beneficiaries of the Foundation’s Free Medical Missions, which align with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 that aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all

Through its Access to Clean Water and Sanitation programme, the Foundation has taken potable water to 33 communities across the Niger Delta region. It has also built and donated toilet and sanitary facilities to enhance public health and wellbeing. A total of 10,450 households in 25 communities of the Niger Delta have had access to potable water courtesy of the Foundation.

The Foundation has also, through its Education and Scholarships programme, empowered 1,316 persons with scholarships for formal education and training programs from Nursery to tertiary levels, including at the Nigeria Law School. It has also provided funding to 30 teachers and trainers and built an Information Technology Centre for learning.

Executive Assistant to the Foundation’s Chairman, Barr. Oraye St. Franklyn, said in a statement that an anniversary lecture, as well as gala night, are scheduled to hold in February 2022. He said this would afford the Foundation an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate its partners and volunteers.

The mission of the O. B Lulu-Briggs Foundation, founded in 2001, is to implement sustainable interventions through these five programmes: Care for Life, also popularly called, Care for the Elderly; Free Medical Missions; Access to Clean Water and Sanitation; Education; and Micro-credit and Entrepreneurship

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