The Lagos State Government has reiterated its commitment to providing free legal representation to awaiting trial inmates of Correctional Centres during their court appearances.

The Director, Directorate of Citizens Rights (DCR), Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya, who gave the assurance during her quarterly tour of Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Badagry Correctional Centre and Kirikiri Female Correctional Centre, stated that the DCR, in conjunction with the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Community Service Unit (CSU), will ensure that awaiting trial inmates have free legal representation.

She explained that the quarterly visit to the Correctional Centres by the Directorate is in line with the State Government’s policy to create free access for all to justice, irrespective of gender, faith or social status.

According to her, “The Office also conducts prison watch to ensure that prisoners are kept under humane conditions and their fundamental human rights are not violated, especially awaiting trial inmates that are presumed innocent until convicted by a law court”.

Odusanya averred that the present administration is determined to reduce the high number of individuals in incarceration, who are yet to be convicted through the prison watch services of the Directorate.

The personnel of all Correctional Centres visited expressed their gratitude to the Directorate on behalf of the inmates, saying the periodic visits give hope to the prisoners, especially the awaiting trial inmates.

They, however, appealed to the Lagos State Government to urgently intervene and provide legal representation to prisoners charged with minor crimes but are in confinement due to their inability to get lawyers during their various hearings.

The visiting team presented gift items such as Antiseptic Disinfectants, Air Fresheners, Insecticides, Toothbrushes, Slippers, Hand Sanitisers, Shaving Sticks, Sanitary Towels, Detergent Soaps, Brooms, and other sanitary materials to the inmates of the three Correctional Centres.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.