Surulere Lawyers’ Forum Celebrates 2018 Bar Dinner in Style
The sparkling interior and well-appointed ambience of Blessing Hall, Eko Club on the Mainland, Lagos was the very picture of gloss and glitter on the occasion of the 2018 Annual Bar Dinner & End of the Year Party of the Surulere Lawyers’ Forum – Lagos of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Friday, the 7th of December, 2018. The elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen of the Surulere Lawyers’ Forum and their guests, provided their own share of the glamour as they came to celebrate an evening of fine dining, networking and fun.
The well-attended evening was chaired by a senior partner in the law firm of Babalakin & Co., Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), and had a former Solicitor-General of Lagos State and Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN) as guest speaker. The event was also graced by some serving chairmen and deputy chair of other branches in Lagos; representatives of the government of Lagos State; top players in other professions; and young lawyers of the forum and other NBA branches.
The welcome address was given by Ms. Gloria Ngozi Egeonu, chair of the Dinner Planning Committee, who disclosed that, the Surulere Bar Forum is a gathering of lawyers that is classless in outlook but has a strong bond of love among its members who are united for a common goal – members’ welfare and happiness. She went ahead to appreciate the dinner committee members (Team Winning, Team Transparency), for their diligent and relentless hard work, time and resources contributed in ensuring the success of the whole event – from charity visit to the health walk. She wished them God’s support for their encouragement.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Forum, Mr. Yusuff Bello, emphasized the unity of the Surulere Bar forum. He said, SLF is known for promoting the welfare and interest of its members in a little over 12 years of its existence. Bello is proud that the SLF which was formed in 2006 has made remarkable achievements in bringing about increase in its membership strength and welfare programmes. He said, Surulere has produced notable legal personalities and also been a pacesetter with great innovations.
The chair said, “SLF being a welfare based forum was the first to introduce insurance policy for its members which has been duplicated in the National and other branches of the NBA. SLF was the first to introduce the lawyers’ health walk which many branches of the Bar have cultivated for fitness and health benefit of lawyers across the country.”
“Bello seized the opportunity of the occasion to clamour for the establishment of Surulere Division of the State high Court. He said the SLF will continue to re-echo the call until all authorities concerned yield to their demand.”
“Even though Surulere is now officially recognized as a ‘Magistrate District’, it still does not have its own registry, and lawyers have to travel as far as Yaba to conduct their business. The projects of construction of modern courts at various locations within Lagos by the state government has consciously eluded Surulere, because no project has been earmarked to be sited within the district,” Bello reiterated.
The chairman used the occasion to call on the Lagos State Government through the Hon. Chief Judge, Justice Opeyemi Oke and the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, and all stakeholders to expedite action in the establishment of the Surulere Division of Lagos State High Court. He also urged the NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN) to invoke the provision of Section 7(a) (f) (iii) of NBA constitution (as amended) by making SLF member of NEC.
According to the Lagos correspondent of Newswire Law & Events magazine, the highlights of the event was a keynote lecture by the guest speaker, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Nigeria and an author of law books – prominent amongst his publication is the book titled: “Jurisdiction of Courts in Nigeria”. He is currently the Principal Partner in the law firm of Lawal Pedro, SAN & Associates with offices in Lagos and Abuja
In his talk, titled, ‘Pre and Post Election Litigation: The Role of Lawyers in Deepening Democracy in Nigeria,’ which he said lawyers are better acquainted with the provisions of the law regulating conduct of election more than their clients; lawyers are equally knowledgeable on what the court’s stance is likely to be on the issue or cause of action.
Mr. Lawal Pedro said, the aptness of the theme of the dinner cannot be contested having regards to the recently concluded primaries of all political parties which have submitted names of candidates for the forthcoming National Elections in Nigeria.
The former Solicitor-General of Lagos State said, “Election is an important and crucial variable factor in defining democracy. A country can only be regarded through its democratic process where power changes hands periodically and votes of citizens during elections actually count.”
“The rule of law can only thrive unfettered in a true democracy and lawyers as ministers in the temple of justice should advocate this gospel in and out of election seasons.”
“He said the result of an election must express and reflect the will of electorates and any aggrieved party is entitled to ventilate his grievances in court.”
“Where a political party conducts its primaries to determine the candidates to represent it at an election and one of the contestants is dissatisfied about the conduct or the outcome and decides to challenge it in court, this would be regarded as pre-election litigation. This is supported by the latin maxim, ‘ubi jus ibi Remedium’ (where there is a wrong there is a remedy) and the courts have jurisdiction by virtue of Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act of 2011 (as amended) to determine if the conduct of a primary election is in compliance with the party’s constitution and guidelines.”
Pedro said, “By virtue of the provisions of Section 137(1) of the Electoral Act, only (i) a candidate in an election and (ii) a political party which participated in the election, have ‘locus standi’ to bring an election petition before the court.”
“The role of the court through its interventions is to promote and sustain democracy. It is the court system that can strengthen the people’s confidence in the electoral process, promote constitutionalism and due process in the political sphere,” Pedro emphasized.
“Pedro retells that, “It is the duty of lawyers to educate clients as to the limit of their right, and remedy that can be granted to them by a Tribunal or court.”
“We should discourage our clients from pursuing frivolous cases, or cooking up evidences that could mislead the court,” he said.
In his conclusion, the learned silk said, the role of lawyers in deepening democracy in Nigeria is not limited to when a lawyer has the opportunity of representing a candidate or political party in election petition. “It transcends the election season.” As learned and enlightened folks, lawyers should be advisors, teacher and educators in their sphere of influence to change the mindset and attitude of the citizens so as to recognize that there is need for our democracy to grow, consolidated and sustained.
Surulere Lawyers Forum (SLF) is a forum of lawyers that reside or practice within Surulere axis. It also comprises of lawyers who identify with the aims and objectives of the forum.
The formal launching of the SLF 2019 Almanac end the dinner as the evening wound to a close.
Vote of thanks was given by the General-Secretary of the Executive Committee of SLF, Eno Umoren Mbanugo, who especially singled out the chairman of the day and the guest speaker, and the large number of corporate sponsors and law firms, which spared no expense in making the dinner such a resounding success.
This gave way to the after-party, as guests and well-wishers wine and danced.
See photos below:
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