Ho, July 3, GNA - Mr. Francis Afeavo, Volta Regional Director of the Legal Aid Board (LAB) on Thursday advised guarantors of students loan scheme of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to thoroughly satisfy themselves of the trustworthiness of the recipients before appending their signatures to the agreement. He told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that a disturbing trend of recipient's refusal to pay the loans was emerging and that between January and June, this year, the LAB had settled nine applications between aggrieved guarantors and the students in the region. He said in all, 56 applications were received between January and June, this year, as against 141 and 178 applications honoured in 2002 and 2001 respectively.
Mr Afeavo intimated that several cases were terminated due to the disinterest exhibited by applicants in pursuing the cases in Courts. He said intestate, inheritance and child maintenance applications topped the lists of cases while child custody, tenancy, divorce and minor land disputes also feature for resolution, adding that about 70 per cent of these cases were settled out of court. The Regional Director said the 10-member Board, being chaired by Mr Justice Paul Gyaesayor, a Supervising High Court Judge of the Volta Region had excluded Chieftaincy and stool land disputes, embezzlement, smuggling and narcotics cases out of their consideration. He explained that the Board was not in a position to extend its free services to cover these areas because of time constraints and the criminality associated with some of them.
Mr Afeavo urged the public to take advantage of the activities of the Board, which was promulgated by ACT 542 of 1997 to grant legal aid and justice to first-degree offenders, and people whose earnings were below the daily minimum wage and could not engage the services of a lawyer. He said under-staffing, lack of equipment and logistics militated against their operations.