The Kindest Lawyer in the World Is a Nigerian - Good Nigeria : Good Nigeria News!

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The Kindest Lawyer in the World Is a Nigerian

Some time ago, a Nigerian lawyer, Oluyemi Adetiba-Orija, resident in Lagos State noticed something weird was going on in the courtrooms in Nigeria. Things like, “jailing of a 13-year-old boy” amongst others. It literally became like, in Nigeria, everyone who appeared in the courtroom was going to jail. The people range from murderers to drug dealers to people just sitting on a bench outside their houses to people strolling down the streets etcetera. And it meant that both criminals and innocent people end up in jail.

According to this kind of lawyer, one of the stories that broke her was when she witnessed a guy being sent to jail for breaking a crate of eggs because he hit the person carrying it, by mistake. Apparently, the victim was arrested and charged in court. Lawyer Oluyemi intervened and told the court, that instead of remanding the young man and adding to the number of people in prison, why not contribute money to the victim of the loss, and everybody goes home happy.

This lawyer maintained that cases like this kept happening and we can only ask why? Research also showed that in most parts of the world, when an offence requires to either pay a fine or go to jail, irrespective of how small the fine or offence is, if the guilty cannot afford the fine, the person will go to jail. And true to that, we all agree that fingers are not equal, and we live in a world where not everyone can afford basic things even and solely because of this, thousands of poor people end up in avoidable jail terms over irrelevancies.

According to Oluyemi, 71% of people in Nigerian Prisons are there awaiting trial and we don’t know if they did anything wrong that made them deserve to be charged. It made no sense to this kind of lawyer. This made her gather a team of super lawyers who she told about her mission and were willing to support her to break the jinx. She set up an office right outside the courtroom and made it a duty to interrogate anyone before they entered the prison. If the crime that supposedly brought them sounded ridiculous, she would represent them for free in court after conducting background checks with the help of her team members.

In Nigeria, trials are done in the English Language. This rule is not bent for anyone, not even those who cannot understand what is being said. Another thing this kind of lawyer noticed was that many cannot even communicate in English. Going by this, they may never be able to understand what the Judge wants from them. This translates to the fact that anyone who cannot understand what is being said may likely not be able to respond to questions vis-à-vis accusations from the Judges not to talk of respond or supply information capable of vindicating him/her.

This further reinforced Oluyemi Orija’s decision to be an Advocate for this category of people. She created that law firm solely for that purpose with over 200 volunteers all over Nigeria, teaching people about their rights and how to avoid being arrested. HEADFORT is the name of the not-for-profit organisation where everyone has access to justice irrespective of their category. No crime should be left unpunished anyway, but in the same vein, no one deserves to go to jail just because they cannot speak English.

We can say without mincing words that all Oluyemi Orija does is work day and night, identify small-time criminals, go to court with them and convince the Judges that they should go free. She does all of these at no cost. FOR FREE!

Really, a great recognition we can give this woman is to tag her as the kindest lawyer in the world. It is even more intriguing to know she is a Nigerian. We heartily celebrate Oluyemi Adetiba-Orija.

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