SURULERE LAWYERS FORUM SETS NEW HIGH
AT 2022 ANNUAL DINNER

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Since its inception in 2005, the Surulere Lawyers Forum (SLF) has demonstrated its capacity for reinvention and innovation, two of the many attributes responsible for the sustained growth, impact and influence it has recorded over the years. This is clearly seen in the quality of its programmes, projects and, especially, its Annual Dinners – an event that never fails to draw the cream of legal titans from the across the nation, and in particular other corporate members of the Bar in Lagos State, namely, the Lagos, Ikeja and Ikorodu Branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

The 2022 edition of the SLF Annual Dinner was no exception to this culture of excellence for which the SLF has become a byword – a testimony to the hard work and precision put in by the Dinner Planning Committee under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Olumuyiwa Owolabi.

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NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine correspondent at the event reports that among the luminaries who graced the occasion were Dr. Oluwakemi Pinheiro, SAN (who served as Chairman of the Dinner); the keynote speaker, Prof. Francisca E. Nlerum; the Patron of the SLF, Mr. Abiodun Ogundeji; a large contingent of Senior Advocates of Nigeria; and a delegation of Royal Fathers and clergy. Other lawyers at various stages of post-call to Bar experience also made their presence felt at the gathering. The Special Guest of Honour, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (who, apart from being the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, also represents the Surulere Federal Constituency in the nation’s second legislative chamber), was unavoidably absent and was represented at the occasion. So also was the President of the NBA, Yakubu C. Maikyau, SAN.

In his brief remarks of welcome, Mr. Muyiwa Owolabi expressed delight that this day had finally arrived, after the intense and meticulous preparations of the past few days and weeks, and urged attendees to make the most of the evening as they sample both the culinary and intellectual feasts on offer, as well as the numerous opportunities for networking and reconnection among new acquaintances and old associates, respectively.

Also welcoming attendees in his Opening Address, the Chairman of the Surulere Lawyers Forum, Eddie Njoku, Esq. recounted the humble beginnings of the SLF as a welfare-based meeting point for lawyers resident or working in Surulere, noting that in its 17-year history it has metamorphosed into a multi-dimensional body whose membership and scope spans both the Lagos and Ikeja Branches of the NBA.

This huge influence, among other complementary factors, he said, have helped to bring the metamorphosis of the SLF to its rightful culmination i.e. its recent designation as a full-fledged Branch of the NBA (a testimony, he added, to the truth of the Yoruba saying, ‘suru lere’ which means, ‘patience has its reward’). Njoku therefore called on the Chief Judge of Lagos State and the NBA national President to expedite action on the formal induction of the new Branch into the comity of Branches in the NBA (by issuing it the formal Certificate to that effect), expressing confidence that the Surulere NBA Branch will have a tremendous impact on the work of the Judiciary in its catchment area.

The SLF Chairman ended his address by paying tribute to his six predecessors in office – the pioneer Chairman, Chief Iyanam V. Iyanam; Otunba Martins Ogunleye; Chief Fred Onyeka; Mrs. Chioma Ferguson; Mr. Yusuf Bello, and Mr. Celestine Okonkwo – for their dedication in piloting the SLF through its short but eventful history. He also saluted the immediate past President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata for his tenacity in helping facilitate the SLF’s transition to Branch status.

The keynote speaker, Prof. F. E. Nlerum, spoke on the need, and ways, to promote voluntary tax compliance amongst Nigerians – whether as individuals or as corporate entities. While admitting that the issue of taxation was a vexed one in any given jurisdiction, she lamented the particularly low tax culture in Nigeria, which she attributed to a confluence of factors such as the country’s overdependence on oil sales for the bulk of its revenue. While calling on her audience to embrace a more robust tax compliance profile, Prof. Nlerum also called on the relevant tax authorities in the country – at both federal and subnational levels – to ensure a tax system with a good canon (ie one with certainty and equity; one that is enforceable across the board; and armed with consequences for tax evasion, etc.) Lamenting the secrecy in the management of public money in Nigeria, she described the Tax Appeal Tribunal as a disincentive to tax compliance in the country, and urged the authorities to open up the system, and rid it of politicisation and other irregularities.

The Chairman of the event, Dr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN also offered brief goodwill remarks at the occasion.

According to NEWSWIRE’s correspondent at the Dinner, one of the major highlights of the evening was a spirited performance by students of the Bethsaida School for the Blind, which drew enthusiastic applause from the assembled guests.

Another highlight was the presentation of Awards to deserving members of the legal profession who have contributed over the years to the growth and development of the SLF. They include the immediate past President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata; his successor, Yakubu C Maikyau, SAN; Tobenna Erojikwe (Chairman of the Governing Board of the NBA’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education, ICLE); former NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN; and his successor, Omoyemi Lateef Akangbe.

The 2022 Annual SLF Dinner came to a close on a colourful note, with a brief vote of thanks by the Secretary of the Dinner Committee.

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