About 100 people in and around the Yendi Municipal Assembly in the Northern Region are to receive free legal services. This is by courtesy of a five-day clinic being organised by the Legal Aid Scheme (LAS) in the area.
Five lawyers, including the Executive Director of LAS, Mr Yahaya Alhassan Seini, and the Executive Director of Legal Resources Centre, Ms Daphne Lariba Nabila, are participating in the clinic, which opened on Monday and scheduled to end on Friday, November 28, 2014.
Issues to be mediated at the clinic include child maintenance, tenancy disagreements, land disputes and debt recovery.
The opening of the legal aid clinic followed the inauguration of an office for the LAS in Yendi on Monday.
The office was offered by the Yendi Municipal Assembly and furnished by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of its support for the promotion of legal aid in the country. The inauguration of the Yendi office brought to 26 the number of LAS offices furnished by the UNDP in regions and districts across the country.
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Mr Alhassan Seini explained that the LAS dwelled on mediation in the settlement of disputes between parties.
He said unlike the court where relationships were broken after the case, relationships remained intact after mediation.
Mr Seini said although the legal aid clinic would end on Friday, residents in and around the Yendi Municipal Assembly could continue to receive free legal services from officers in the new office at Yendi.
He said if the cases were complex for the officers in Yendi, they would seek advice from officers in the Tamale office.
UNDP Country Director
The UNDP Country Director, Mr Dominic Sam, in a speech read on his behalf by the UNDP Communications Analyst, Mr Bossman Owusu, said access to justice should not be reserved for those who could afford it, but everyone as everybody had the right to redress.
He said the expansion of legal aid services was in line with UNDP's current strategic direction which emphasised assistance that impacted directly on the poor and the disadvantaged in the society.
Mr Sam said UNDP's continuous support to the LAS included the development of a five-year strategic plan, operational and training manuals for the personnel, communication strategy to help reach out to those who really needed the services and training of staff to improve the quality of services provided for the clients.
The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Limuna Mohammed Muniru, in a speech read on his behalf by the Yendi Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Issah Zakariya, said legal aid services were crucial to the peaceful coexistence and development in the area.
"The vulnerable can access legal aid services on their doorstep," he said.
Alhaji Muniru expressed the hope that the collaboration between the government and the UNDP would be strengthened to continue to serve the vulnerable in the society.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Regent of Dagbon, Kampakuya-Na Yakubu Abdulai Andani, pledged his full cooperation with the LAS in their work.