The Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Musa Lawan, on Thursday, confirmed that the national headquarters of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria had expressed readiness to provide legal representation for Abdulmalik Tanko, the prime suspect in the murder of a five-year-old pupil, Hanifa Abubakar, and his two accomplices and not the Kano State Government.
Lawan made the disclosure while shedding more light on the order of Justice Usman Naabba of the Kano State High Court on February 5 that the state was to provide counsel for him and the two other defendants sequel to their prayer for legal representation.
He maintained that any person standing trial on allegations of culpable homicide should be provided a lawyer.
According to him, if that person does not have a lawyer and uncapable of providing one, the constitution will compel the state to provide one for the suspect.
He explained that the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria was a Federal Government establishment with the primary mandate of providing free legal services to any Nigerian without a lawyer in a culpable homicide case, which could attract the death sentence.
Lawan stated, “It’s the requirement of the law that a person facing the death penalty will not be tried until he has legal representation.
“We brought the three of them to court on February 5 for arraignment but failed because they were not represented by a lawyer.
Our legal system is ever ready to prosecute Abdulmalik Tanko and the two other defendants, as we have overwhelming evidence against them, but we cannot go on; if we try and secure a conviction against them without their lawyer, certainly the judgment will be null and void if it goes on appeal.
“The Kano State Government will not fold its arms because he (Tanko) doesn’t have a lawyer; we have already communicated with the national headquarters of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and they expressed interest to represent the suspects to avoid any delay in this case.”