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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and others at the Deji Sasegbon Memorial Book Launch in Lagos

VP Osinbajo, Olanipekun, Falana, Ngige, Others Pay Tributes to Deji Sasegbon at Memorial Book Launch in Lagos

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‘A THOUGHTFUL VENTURE’

VP Osinbajo, Olanipekun, Falana, Ngige, Others Pay Tributes to Deji Sasegbon at Memorial Book Launch in Lagos

The AGIP Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre in Lagos was agog with activity as the cream of Nigerian society – including the denizens of the legal profession – in the country gathered to pay tribute to a man whose contribution to legal scholarship is not only unquantifiable, but has elevated him into the realm of legend, a man whose memory remains fresh in the hearts of all those who were privileged to know him, and whose light remains undimmed – three years after his untimely demise from this mortal plane.

The occasion was the Deji Sasegbon Memorial Book Launch – namely, the formal presentation of the 7 Volumes of Sasegbon’s Judicial Dictionary of Nigerian Law – a seminal project the late Deji Sasegbon, Esq., SAN had been working on before his transition in 2016, and was taken up and seen to completion by his widow, Mrs. Oge Sasegbon and the dedicated team of scholars, editors and protégés he left in charge of his publishing firm, DSC Publishers Limited.

The event was compered by former NBA Lagos branch chairman, Mr. Alex Muoka – a Lagos-based litigation and transaction lawyer, who did a brilliant job on the day.

NEWSWIRE Magazine’s correspondent in Lagos reports that the event was graced by some of the leading lights of the late Sasegbon’s primary constituency, the legal community – most notably His Excellency, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, SAN, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion. Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN was the Chairman on the day. Also in attendance was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, His Lordship, the Hon. Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, as well as Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN – who was the book reviewer, and Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, the attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Lagos State. Lawyer and activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN was also in attendance, as was Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, chair of the National Council for Continuing Legal Education; Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN, former General Secretary of the NBA; Chief JK Gadzama, SAN; the Attorney-General of Ondo state; representatives of some state government and justices of the states and federal courts – both serving and retired.

In her welcoming remarks, the host, Mrs. Sasegbon – herself a distinguished lawyer of repute –described the occasion as a celebration of her late husband’s working life – a man who, by common consent, was everything but ordinary. She expressed satisfaction at the completion of a project about which the late learned silk had been so passionate – and in conformity with the standard he had always demanded and worked for. She paid glowing tribute to the DSC publishing team – led by the company’s deputy editor-in-chief, Ehi Esoimeme, Esq.– as well as many others who had contributed in one way or the other to bring this project to light. She ended with the hope that the completed work approached Deji Sasegbon’s high standards, and the excellence he had epitomized in his life, his work and his vast range of relationships he had cultivated throughout his sojourn on earth.

Also speaking, Mr. Esoimeme, the deputy editor-in-chief of DSC, recalled his departed boss as a great teacher, mentor and inspiration, and the task of distilling the thoughts of the great man as a function of extensive research and acute intellectual judgment. Sasegbon’s Judicial Dictionary, Esoimeme said, was fully representative of the language it sought to define and illuminate, adding that is present to the reader a viable Nigerian alternative to foreign equivalents such as William Blacksone’s ‘Commentaries on the Laws of England.’  

In his remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, recalled the late Deji Sasegbon, SAN (or D-Shash, as he was fondly called by his admirers) was a humane personality, with a large heart and a generous spirit – and called on all lawyers to show similar generosity towards other people, especially the less-fortunate. Olanipekun drew attention to the inevitability of death, and reminded the audience on the need to look after one’s body via regular exercise, good nutrition and plenty of sleep. He also lamented the absence of an insurance scheme, or gratuity, or a pension among Nigerian lawyers as a tragedy, and called for urgent steps to remedy this situation.

Employing sublime – even poetic – symbolism and humour in turns, the book reviewer, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN a legal scholar like the deceased, gave a review as masterful as the book itself. He took the highly attentive audience on a rhetorical trip through the bold affirmations and subtle nuances of the Sasegbon’s Judiical Dictionary, a publication which, he says, would open the eyes of its readers to the meaning, context and etymology of words of common and uncommon usage. Ajayi hailed the volume’s engagements with virtually all branches of the law. Not only were these volumes a feat of originality, reflective of the passion with which the late luminary undertook his projects, they had created order out of chaos, and laid bare the arcane terminologies whose meanings were subject to all manner of interpretations by lawyers, judges and scholars alike.

Nigeria’s Number Two citizen, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who knew Deji Sasegbon, SAN, well, from their collaborations in the past, remembered him as a thorough, rigorous and diligent legal professional with an abiding hatred for that which was less than his best. His legacy of both hardwork and innovation, said the VP, saw him embrace the savvy use of technology (such as computers). His life work and especially these volumes, he added, had ensured Sasegbon’s immortality in the pantheon of legal geniuses the world over. He thanked Oge, the widow of the late luminary, for what called ‘a thoughtful venture’ and a labour of love whose impact would be felt for generations to come.

NEWSWIRE’s correspondent reports that Prof. Osinbajo’s remarks were followed by the unveiling of Sasegbon’s Judicial Dictionary of Nigerian Law, a 7-volume hard-back compendium whose finishing and outward look and feel was, by common consent, as elegant on the outside as the intellectual riches it contained. Osinbajo was joined on stage by Olanipekun, Ajayi, Mrs. Sasegbon and others, as they formally presented the volumes to the public.

Thereafter, Olanipekun led other buyers in the house in purchasing sets of the book, as the respective offers by various attendees for the volumes finally brought this momentous occasion to a glorious conclusion.

In separate conversations after the end of proceedings, participants described the occasion, and the volumes being launched, as a pivotal moment for the legal profession in particular, and for the nation of Nigeria as it faced old and emerging challenges in its quest to enthrone legal professionalism among practitioners, and to institute a democratic culture built upon the rule of law in all its affairs.

See photos below:

                    


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