A Promise of Leadership With a Human Touch – Bolatumi Animashaun

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Mrs. Bolatumi Animashaun
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A Promise of Leadership With a Human Touch – Bolatumi Animashaun

 A seasoned legal practitioner and administrator, Bola Animashaun brings a formidable combination of experience, expertise and excellent interpersonal skills to her quest to become the next chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Lagos Branch. A holder of degrees in education, public administration and law, she is the current Vice Chairman of the Premier Branch and Chairman of its Human Rights Committee. A UK certified Mediator, Mrs. Animashaun is a member of both the NBA’s Section on Business Law and its Section on Legal Practice, as well as the International Federation Of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

Mrs. Bolatumi Animashaun

In this conversation with NEWSWIRE Law & Events Magazine, she discusses her campaign for the chairmanship of the premier bar branch, her agenda, and the special skill sets and attributes she is bringing to the table.

Excerpts:

NEWSWIRE: Why do you want to become the chairman of Lagos Bar? >>>

ANIMASHAUN: I want to become the Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch because it is an opportunity for me to serve the Bar to the best of my capacity. As the Vice-Chairman of the outgoing Executive, taking over as Chairman will make it a seamless transition to continue the landmark successes of the Chukwuka Ikwuazom-led administration.

What characteristics and skills make a great chairman? >>> A chairman must be a person of integrity, focused, firm, tolerant, level-headed, presentable, confident, committed, hardworking and selfless.

Bolatumi Animashaun’s led Human Rights Committee’s visit to the office of the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, Lagos in Dec, 2018

Share with us some of your achievements in the last two years as Vice-Chair of the Lagos branch. >>> I have a very good working relationship with the chairman and members of the Executive Council. I carried out assignments delegated to me by the chairman. I represented him at events and chair the monthly meetings whenever he so instructed. I am also the chairman of Human Rights Committee.  We marked the 70th International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December 2018, with a visit to the Lagos State House of Assembly. Some of the issues we discussed with the Hon. Speaker of the House, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa were;

  • Health Insurance for the people of Lagos State for a token;
  • The need to have more functional and well equipped health centers to reduce the pressure on the General Hospital;
  • Permission for representatives of NBA to attend and observe plenary sessions of the House; and
  • The NBA Lagos Branch to make valuable contributions to the House on matters that touch the public.
Bolatumi Animashaun presenting copies of the UN Declarations on Human Rights in difference Nigerian languages to the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa

Members of the Human Rights Committee also visited Ikoyi Prisons in 2018 where 151 inmates were interviewed.  Their cases were taken up at various courts in Ogudu, Ebute Metta, Surulere, Yaba and Igbosere. Our intention is to speed up justice as justice delayed is justice denied. Many of them have been awaiting trial for months and years, well past their sentencing periods, while some others were victims of raids by law enforcement agents. These inmates were languishing in jail because they could not get their bail perfected or they had no legal representative. Through our intervention, Some got sentenced and over a hundred regained their freedom. We sped up the issuance of DPP’s advice for quite a number of them by liaising with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution. We also visited the female prison at Kirikiri in 2019 and interviewed some of the inmates. Their matters are still being taken care of by members with the plan to hand over to law firms that are ready to help continue these matters. Members of the Committee also went on a road-show that took us to Obalende and Tinubu to sensitize the public on their rights as citizens. We created awareness about the pro-bono services by NBA available to members of the public. We have since been seeing the public responding as they bring their matters directly to the Branch.

Display of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles

It is generally agreed that the outgoing Chair, Chukwuka Ikwuazom has done well for the Lagos Bar.  How do you intend to build on his great legacies since you were part of his policies? >>> Yes, it is true that the outgoing Chairman, Chukwuka Ikwuazom has done well. His achievements to name a few include:

  • Migrating into the new modern-day accounting system for the Branch;
  • Raising money for the Branch by getting donations for our various events and having a surplus.
  • Moving the NBA office to a more spacious office at City Hall.
  • Organizing mentorship programmes for members.
  • During his time, attendance at the meetings witnessed an increase of over 300% due to the monthly knowledge sharing in Continuing Legal Education (CLE).
  • Arousing the interest of commercial law firms to participate in Bar activities.
  • Organizing a summit for young lawyers who felt neglected in the past.
  • Under his leadership, the Human Rights Committee activities became loud and clear.

The outgoing chairman has elevated the NBA to a great height. If the tenure had been longer than two years, his achievements would have been enormous.  There is therefore the need for continuity, to continue the achievements from where he is leaving off. It is in this regards that I, as the Vice Chairman and an active member of the Executive, am willing to carry on this legacy.

Can you share with us your agenda as a candidate for NBA Lagos Branch Chairmanship position. >>> We actually need to differentiate between what we want and what we need, I cannot do this alone without the input and support of all members of the Branch. I have premised my agenda on 3 Ls’ (Law, Love and Life):  Law has to do with the practice of the profession which the outgoing executive has dwelt a lot on. Apart from the in-house continuing education, contact is being made with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Lagos, for short duration certificated courses. Other opportunities will be sought here and abroad to keep our members abreast of new developments in the legal profession.

Visit to Kirikiri Female Prison this year (2019) by the Human Right Committee members
Visit to Ikoyi Prison last year (2018) by the Human Right Committee members

However, there is still much to be done. There is need for a complete overhaul of our legal system as some laws are obsolete and in need of a review. The Lagos State Government is doing much but the NBA should also cause a wave. Let the legal practitioners stop complaining. Members should be encouraged to point out in writing through the committee to be set up or through the NBA Section on Legal Practice on laws that need to be reviewed.  We shall have members attending sessions at House Assembly as pro bono “observers”.  The workability of this has been discussed with the Hon Speaker.  Laws should be dynamic and change with time. This time around we shall put a lot of pressure on the Judiciary and Legislature to speed up action.

Venue of Monthly Meetings The Foyer: Attempts will be made to revert to our former meeting time of 1.30pm through consultation pending the time we relocate.

NBA House (near Law School) We will explore the possibility of moving our meeting to the place temporarily until we have a befitting Bar Centre.

Bar Centre All required support will be given to the Building Committee of which I am a member to build the Centre within a year. The Chairman of the Building Committee, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) is passionate about the building like many people who had made financial contributions towards this project. I personally contributed one million naira in 2016 to express my dream.

Transportation All efforts shall be made to the right quarters to get the Branch a big bus,  like that of the Ikeja and Ikorodu Branches. Transport shall be available to move members from the High Court premises to the venue of meeting.

Bar and Bench Relationship A house divided against itself cannot stand. There is an urgent need to bridge the gap between the Bar and the Bench. The appropriate Committee will work on this.

Young Lawyers – The Secretaries of most Committees to be set up shall come from among the young lawyers. Mentoring programmes shall be tailored to meet their needs. Senior lawyers shall be encouraged to assist young lawyers financially by paying their dues and sponsoring them for events and programmes. I have personally initiated a 5-year support to pay practicing fees and branch dues of 20 young lawyers between 1-5 years post call for the next 5 years. 18 lawyers benefitted in 2019.Town Hall meetings will be organized periodically for them to meet their role models/heroes/heroines. They will be encouraged to join the Human Rights Committee where they can display their professional skills.

Members of Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy with Hon. Attorney-General of Lagos State, Adeniji Kazeem (SAN) at Kirikiri Maximum Prison in April 2019

LOVE – The Legal Profession should continue to be a binding force. We should not allow religion or ethnicity to divide us. There is the need for mutual respect among lawyers so as to promote the revered aura of the profession. We must take necessary actions henceforth to restore the glory of the profession which makes us sought-after and the envy of other professions. The trending dichotomy between the Section on Business Law (SBL) and Section on Legal Practice (SLP) should not be allowed to widen or polarize the Branch; they should rather complement each other through the context of Love in practice. Steps have been taken to acquire land for the cooperative Society of the Branch. This will be followed up. Members of the Executive shall be encouraged and supported to fulfill their manifestos as much as possible.

The following Fora and Committee in addition to the already existing ones shall be inaugurated:

NBA Lagos Advisory Committee Representatives of SAN, Body of Benchers, senior members of the Bar, young lawyers will monitor and advise on matters that affect the Branch.

Past Chairmen ForumThis forum is expected to contribute to the growth of the Branch, revisit their unfulfilled manifestos and make proposals to the executive members for consideration.

NBA Lagos Elders Forum (age 65 or 70 years and above) – Members will share their wealth of experience with younger ones. They should be brought fully into the fold. They will celebrate and be celebrated. The Elders’ Luncheon will be considered to replace the “Elders’ Night” because of the time of the day for the elders. The Exco will discuss more benefits for them.

NBA Lagos Members Counseling Unit – There shall be voluntary membership of people who have been there to counsel members on issues affecting their lives, marriages, investment, health, and family. A register of volunteers shall be kept at the Secretariat or with the welfare secretary with information on area of specialization.

LIFE “Health is wealth”; “Prevention is better than cure”; “Problem shared is problem half solved” – so the sayings go. The pressure of this profession must not kill practitioners. Many lawyers are stressed out while many are like walking corpses. Why should a lawyer live in Ikotun Egbe and go to court in Igbosere or Yaba every day? Many of these problems can be addressed through counseling. Routine medical checkups will be available on meeting days for as many as can come early before the meeting.

Sporting Activities

Football – I am ardent supporter of our football team and they will surely get the support needed to make them our “Dream Team”. I have identified some fans who are ready to support our team and many more will be sought for.

Many thanks to Mrs. Mfon Usoro for the annual sponsorship of the Lawyers Table Tennis Tournament. Many lovers of sport shall be encouraged to sponsor more sports like lawn tennis, swimming and many more.

We are going to identify the problems challenging our practices, proffer solutions and work towards the actualization of solutions.

A Massage Chair and other basic health machines will be made available at the Branch Office. Their use will, however, be regulated.

Mrs. Bolatumi Animashaun with Chief Frank Aghedo, Chairman of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee of NBA Lagos Branch (2015-2017), and four other members of the Committee

Good leaders bring out the best in everybody. How do you intend to provide the new vision and also support the Continuous Legal Education (CLE) program to Lagos Branch members? >>> I believe in bringing the best out of everybody. I did the same in the Human Rights Committee and I was overwhelmed by the zeal and commitments of members. I encouraged and supported members within my affordable resources and as a result, members sacrificed their time, money, energy, skills and legal services to speed up the delivery of justice on pro bono. I am more determined than ever to perform a greater feat by encouraging all members to be involved in matters of the Bar, and through our collective efforts, we shall shake Lagos. There is no going back, the continuing legal education will continue as it has really impacted on members’ attendance at meetings.

Courtesy visit to Alhaji Femi Okunnu

Do you see your election as the breaking of the “glass ceiling” as far as gender parity in the NBA Lagos Branch is concerned? >>> The “glass ceiling” as you call is just a mirage, whatever you consider as gender parity was never intentional. Somehow, the female members have been known to display apathy when it comes to politics. The opportunity has always been there for anyone, male or female, to contest for any post.

How do you plan to harmonize all the interests of the NBA Lagos Branch when elected? >>> That should not be a problem as this is where my “love” agenda comes in. Our Association and profession should take priority. Members of the Executive and the Advisory Committee on NBA Lagos matters will come up with programmes that will promote the unity of the bar. Personally, I am a mixed breed.

Delegation of Egbe Amofin Oodua during a courtesy call to Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) at his new office.

Who is Mrs. Bola Animashaun? >>> Bola Animashaun is a legal practitioner “Blossom Chamber” with offices at Ikota Shopping Complex, VGC and Ebute Shopping Complex, near Dangote in Ikorodu. She is a seasoned administrator, and a Center for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) UK Certified Mediator. I graduated from the University of Lagos, Akoka with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Education, a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) and Bachelor of Law (LLB). I had a stint with Rikky Tarfa. I am in alliance with Support Law Firms; I am the current Vice Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch, and the Chairman of the branch’s Human Rights Committee.  I’m also a former NBA co-opted NEC member; former Secretary of the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee, member of Section on Business Law; member of the Section on Legal Practice, member of FIDA, member of AWLA, one of the most experienced mediators with the Lagos Multi-door Court House and the ADR Fast Track in Lagos and Ikeja. I am also a life member of Nigerian Society of International Law and an Associate member of BRIPAN.

Picture: At the African Women Lawyers in 2018
Bolatumi Animashaun with the Secretary and Chairperson of FIDA

How much do you value your work/profession and your relationship with colleagues? >>> Very much.  I cherish good relationships; I preach it and practice it. I will do everything within my power to restore the diminishing glory of the law profession. I enjoy being active and I love the legal profession. My door shall be open to any member who has something to offer the Branch.

Why should your colleagues vote for you? >>> People should look at my track record, my relationship with colleagues, my Integrity, my performance, my service and my friendly disposition. I am an amiable person, full of life and energy. A vote for me is a vote for LAW, LOVE and LIFE!


Registration for the Law Week is still ongoing and multiple registration channels have been provided by the Law Week Committee towards a seamless and hassle-free registration experience for participants.

This includes payment at the banks or through POS at the Lagos NBA branch office. Participants can also download the registration form and pay through the payment gateway indicated on the branch website.

The registration rates are below:

  • 1 – 7 years: N3,500
  • 8 – 15 years: N5,000
  • 16 – 19 years is 10,000
  • 20 years and above is N15,000
  • SANs and Benchers N25,000

Interested participants are to make their payments to the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch at Access Bank. The Account Number is 0728253326. Please return the registration form to the branch office with proof of payment.

For enquiries, please contact:
Nkem Agboti
08035739791
nagboti@gmail.com.

Uche Nwadialo
08098030060
u.nwadialo@gmail.com

Oluyemisi Iwajomo
08064112076
oiwajomo@babalakinandco.com


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