The climax of the 2023 Law Week of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Lagos Chapter, began with an Opening Ceremony on October 30, 2023 at the Nigerian International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos.
NEWSWIRE Law & Events Magazine’s correspondent in Lagos reports that the event was, expectedly, graced by legal luminaries and other dignitaries from far and wide, among them the representative of the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs. Tomi Bodunde. Others included Mrs. Chinwe Efobi (Chairperson FIDA, Lagos); Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN, who chaired the Opening Ceremony; Tobenna Erojikwe, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) Institute of Continuing Legal Studies (ICLE), who served as the Chairman of the Dinner; and Mrs. Uwa Ohiku (the Keynote Speaker). Others who also graced the event were Mrs. Titi Akinlawon, SAN, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN; the FIDA Nigeria Country Vice-President/National President Mrs. Amina Agbaje (who was represented by Mrs. Eliana Martins); Prof. Virgy Ebelechukwu Onyene, and Mrs. Joyce Oduah (the immediate past National General Secretary of the NBA).
Both the Chairperson of the Law Week Planning Committee, Mrs. Ada Madu and the FIDA Lagos Chairperson, Mrs. Chinwe Efobi made opening welcome speeches in which they outlined the aims and objectives of the organization, as well as the programs, projects and projections of FIDA Lagos.
The Opening Ceremony was moderated by Uchenna Nwadialo, Alternate Chairperson Law Week Planning Committee.
In his address, Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN noted that violence against women and girls was a violation of human rights, and that a victim of gender-based violence (GBV) was unlikely to be productive in the society. The cultural habit of stigmatizing the victims of gender-based violence, he asserted, has deterred many victims from speaking out, thereby allowing the problem to fester in society. The learned silk, who is a former Chairman of the NBA Lagos branch, also emphasized the need for data collection and analysis of reports of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
Mrs. Bodunde, the representative of the Lagos AG, delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the AG, in which she noted that GBV (as referenced by Ikwuazom) affects everyone, irrespective of culture or tribe, and that sexual and emotional abuse, as well as sexual harassment, all amount to GBV, stressing that it is a phenomenon that threatens our progress as a nation. She called for perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions and for all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims get justice.
Also speaking, the Chairperson of the NBA Women Forum (NBAWF), Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha called for mutual respect between the genders, without which, she said, societal progress was impossible.
Her call was echoed by Dr. Inkem Boerner, a member of the German Council, who situated mutual respect within the context of fundamental human rights. The representative of Mrs. Amina Agbaje (Mrs. Eliana Martins) also delivered a goodwill message on her behalf, after which the ceremony was declared open by the former NBA Lagos Branch Chairman.
In her much-anticipated Keynote, Mrs. Uwa Ohiku began on a personal note, narrating her growing up experience. Her father, she said, was a staunch protector of the girl-child rights – a situation which has had a salutary effect on her today. On the converse side, she notes with dismay the rate at which women are being killed as a result of GBV; the youngest victim, she recalled, was an eight-month-old baby, and the oldest, a 75-year-old woman. The Keynote Speaker reiterated the need for our girls to be taught how to be confident, as well as the need to raise our sons in a respectful manner. She also called for a cultural paradigm shift in which women are welcomed back to their maiden family homes when they return (or flee) from failed or abusive marriages instead of being sent back, willy-nilly, sometimes without any questions asked.
Always a compelling speaker, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN defined GBV, quoting the Council of European Union Convention, as any act that is likely to result in the physical suffering of women, or any form of harm perpetrated as a result of a person’s gender. He noted how the birth of a male child is highly celebrated in some parts of the world while girls’ are not – a situation which, he said, results in the impression of the dominance of the male child, while messing up a girl’s self-esteem. The learned silk challenged FIDA to collaborate with the National Ministry of Women Affairs in a bid to get the correct data and statistics database that can capture accurately the figures of GBV violence. In this respect, Adegboruwa noted that Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution states that every citizen is entitled to be treated with dignity, and that widows or orphans are also victims (or potential victims) of GBV – among whose causes he enumerated to include poverty, conflict and wars, stress in the home due to economic factors and the transfer of aggression. This atmosphere of violence, he asserted, has helped in the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as gender stigmatization and ostracization.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also gave the preventive measures to include: education, data collection, early intervention programs (such as the naming and shaming of sexual offenders, an initiative, it would be recalled, of the former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; training programs for professionals, legal reforms and community engagements). Adegboruwa noted that over 39% of women experience violence before the age of 15, and called on relevant stakeholders to take steps to eradicate any behaviors that consign women to an inferior station in life. The legal luminary recommended a partnership between FIDA and the legislature at federal and state levels in making laws that stem violence against women.
On her part, Prof. Virgy Ebelechukwu Onyene admonished the society to stop encouraging girls to look out for rich men to date or marry as that in itself is an invitation to GBV. She also noted that GBV starts with people hating one another, especially women.
Congratulating FIDA on the success of her Law Week, another speaker, Mr. Olumide Kayode insisted that there could not be a meaningful discussion of domestic violence without mention of GBV, as well as the roles of religion, illiteracy, and poverty. He noted that one in every four marriages would end in divorce in 2 years, according to current studies (and this includes so-called Christian marriages). He lamented that women are being killed by their partners every year. Sexual violence, he disclosed, happens mostly in uncompleted buildings or in perpetrators’ homes, and called on families or cultures that send victims back to their abusive marriages to desist, calling such a practice a violation of fundamental human rights. God hates divorce, he acknowledged, but that victims of GBV are more likely to develop bad behavior within the marriage – which makes divorce even more likely. Kayode concluded his intervention by commending the Lagos State Government for establishing Family Courts, but called for the seating frequency in these Courts to be increased from just once a week, as is presently the case. He also canvassed for more Judges and magistrates in the state.
NEWSWIRE correspondent reports that the ceremony came to a close with the much-anticipated FIDA Law Week Dinner, which was chaired by Tobenna Erojikwe, Chair of the NBA-ICLE. Among other items on its packed program, the event featured the presentation of plaques to the respective speakers, against the backdrop of fine dining and wining, as well as mellow music, as guests explored networking opportunities.
The Dinner came to a close (bringing to an end the events of a highly impactful week of celebration following the vote of thanks by Ada Mmadu, Chairman of the Law Week Dinner Planning Committee.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria Lagos branch in collaboration with the Foundation for Resilient Empowerment and Development (FRED) celebrated with great women all over the globe to mark this year’s IWD
The programme was indeed a huge success, following a high number of attendees. The Chairperson, Mrs. Chinwe Efobi gave the opening remarks. The guest speakers, Mrs. Titilola Akinlawon, SAN, and Mrs. Abiola Laseinde delivered well-articulated and educative lectures.
The Theme “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” in summary, is the commitment and involvement of women and girls in technology(IT). Tech knowledge should not be gender-sensitive, nor should it be determined by the degree one acquires. Women should equip themselves with Tech Knowledge.
By Abiodun Azi
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Lagos Branch, has condemned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), describing it as an evil act.
Mrs. Chinwe Efobi, Chairperson, FIDA, made the assertion on Thursday in Lagos at an event to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is observed on Feb. 6 every year.
According to Efobi, the day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders involved in ending FGM to celebrate achievements, advocate for abandonment of the practice and raise awareness.
She said it was in this vein that FIDA Lagos joins the world to commemorate the Day which had the 2023 theme as: “Partnership with Men and Boys to Transform Social and Gender Norms to End FGM”.
She explained that FGM referred to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
She said it was most often carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, and usually referred to as circumcision.
“From statistics available, globally, more than 200 million women and girls have been mutilated.
“In Nigeria alone, more than 20 million women and girls have been mutilated and this figure represents 10 percent of the global total.
“What this figure means in essence is that one out of every 10 mutilated girls or women in the world is a Nigerian,” she said.
Efobi said that there were so many reasons why FGM was practiced in Nigeria, some of which are culturally inclined, patriarchal system or religious/cultural obligation.
She said it was sad to note that a number of countries still engage in the practice of FGM in spite the fact that some of the perpetrators are aware of the adverse effects on the lives of the victims.
She said that FGM affects young girls more than older women and the psychological effects could impact the lives of a young girl throughout her life.
She said, “FIDA Nigeria, Lagos branch, calls on all stakeholders to raise more awareness in the fight against FGM, and we must not relent in our efforts to raise our voices.
“We must take this campaign to families and communities still practicing this evil act.
“We also call on all government agencies saddled with enforcement responsibilities to take the issue of FGM more seriously.
“To curb the spread of this practice, more perpetrators need to be prosecuted and punished speedily to help achieve a sane and safe environment for women and girls to live in a society free of FGM,” she said.
FIDA Lagos ably led by its Chairperson, Mrs. Chinwe Efobi carried out a sensitization campaign as part of its activities in commemoration of the ’16 Days of Activism’ which was flagged off on 25th November 2022, under the theme: ‘UNITE!: Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.
The venue was the Boundary Market, Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA, where members of the body sensitized the market women and men in pidgin English and local languages about women’s rights, as well as the dangers and illegality associated with child molestation, gender-based violence, rape, etc and all forms of gender disparity.
Members of FIDA Lagos drove home their message with placards displaying various inscriptions as follows:
FIDA SAYS NO TO DOMESTICCE
STOP ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
END ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN; etc at strategic locations on the road and in marketplaces.
The activity attracted the attention of passers-by, particularly women who could relate to the issues being discussed, and enthusiastically demonstrated their solidarity with FIDA’s campaign against the menace, as they clamoured for fliers to help sensitize others and help spread FIDA’s gospel.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Lagos Branch joined the rest of the world to amplify the awareness of the rights of the girl child.
The 11th day of October every year is set aside to commemorate the anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child. This year marks the tenth anniversary with the theme Our time is now—our rights, our future.
FIDA Lagos notes that this is the beginning of yet another era and now is the time to work harder and smarter by engaging the right stakeholders and policymakers to not only accept but to also encourage these rights to be implemented, to work in line with appropriate governmental and non-governmental agencies in the enforceability of the rights of the girl child.
The future we all want is now, we want to see a society where a child especially the girl child can thrive and blossom to achieve her talents and potentials without any form of social, religious, cultural subjugation, also where opportunities are the same and equal to all and all basic human rights are upheld.
FIDA Lagos calls on all stakeholders to rise up and champion this course to the actualization that every Nigerian girl child is free from deep-rooted gender-based issues which have been in existence for decades such as gender-based discrimination and oppression, harmful cultural practices, poor or no education, sexual abuses and exploitation, child marriages, poor learning opportunities, etc.
In line with the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child today, FIDA Lagos team led by the Chairperson, Mrs. Chinwe Efobi visited two schools namely, Marywood Girls College Ebute-Metta West Lagos and Methodist Girls High School, Murtala Mohammed Way, Yaba Lagos to speak to the girls on how to safeguard themselves from all forms of abuses and how to pursue their rights as girls and report cases of abuses to the appropriate authorities.
The speakers were very eloquent and the team from NAPTIP also spoke to the students on trafficking and the dangers associated with it and how to safeguard themselves from being trafficked and the need to report any suspected incident of trafficking to the appropriate quarters. The sessions were very interactive. Snacks and drinks were distributed to the students and plaques were given to the Speakers at the end of the ceremonies in the two different locations.
Also in attendance were a great number of Fidans and the guest speakers were Dr Stella Nduka, Rita Amuchienwa, Mrs Amaka Ndulue and Mr Frederick Okoh Uche from (NAPTIP) who represented the NAPTIP Lagos Commander and Dr Rosemary Danesi, Titilola Akinlawon (SAN)
It was a huge success.
FIDA Nigeria, Lagos Branch Prison Watch Committee ably led by the Head of the Committee, Mrs. Uzoamaka Nwodili on Wednesday the 10th of August 2022, visited the Female Custodial Facility Kirikiri, Lagos (Prisons) and offered legal services to the inmates, especially the indigent ones.
The total number of inmates in the facility was 240, the number of those awaiting trial was184, number of convicts was 51, number of inmates on death row was 5.
FIDA Lagos attended to a great number of the inmates that required legal assistance and will follow up their cases in court.
On Friday, July 15, 2022, members of the Lagos State branch of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Lagos) paid a visit to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), during which they presented gifts to the children at the Olikoye Ransome Kuti Children Emergency Ward E4.
Led by the FIDA Lagos Chairperson, Barrister Chinwe Efobi and the Chairperson of the FIDA Law Week Committee, Barrister Biola Laseinde, FIDA members, who were ten in number, proceeded to present gifts to her adopted – Ward E4.
The visit was an offshoot of the FIDA Lagos Law Week which was held last month although the visit was postponed for logistical reasons.
After briefing the Deputy Chief Medical Director, Prof. Wasiu Lanre Adeyemo (who represented the Chief Medical Director) in company of the Director of Nursing, Mrs. Oyegoke and other members of staff prior to the presentation, Barrister Efobi informed the LUTH Management on the objectives of FIDA, adding that it was the custom of FIDA Lagos to visit Ward E4 and make presentations of gifts as part of its Annual Law Week programme.
Welcoming the FIDANs, Prof. Adeyemo informed them that LUTH is a tertiary healthcare facility owned and sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria with support from private individuals and corporate bodies. The hospital, which has 5 Wards, is the only public hospital in Nigeria that is not connected to the national grid as it generates its own gas-powered power supply.
The Professor went on to add that LUTH has the biggest Dialysis Centre in West Africa with 92 beds, which was donated by the late Chairman of the Lions Club International, and that LUTH has the biggest Oncology Centre and ICU in West Africa, with an Oncology Ward worth N1.5 billion, which was donated by a single woman in honour of her late daughter. The Cancer Centre, Prof. Adeyemo said, was donated by NSIA, while the various Wards were renovated by various corporate organisations. Other facilities, such as the Labour Ward, Neonatal Unit, X-ray and Medical Imaging, the CETPower Project, etc, are all products of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The Professor expressed the gratitude of the LUTH Management for FIDA’s kind gesture towards Ward E4 and urged the Federation and other public-spirited individuals and organisations to do more as government cannot do it alone.
He also took some time to advise the visitors to take their health seriously by carrying out routine medical checkups and screenings, particularly for BP, diabetes and cancer every six months to ensure early detection. He also advised them on the need for proper diet and regular exercise.
Thereafter, the Deputy Chief Medical Director and other staffers of LUTH took the FIDA members on an extensive tour of the various facilities at LUTH, after which the FIDANs proceeded to the adopted Ward E4 for the presentation of gifts where the Assistant Director, Nursing Services, Mrs C.O. Nwokolo, received the gifts on behalf of the children. The Fidans thereafter offered prayers for the quick recovery of the children who have been admitted for various ailments.
Expressing the gratitude of the children, Mrs Nwokolo urged FIDA to intervene in partnership with the LUTH Management in respect of the ongoing renovation of Ward E4 by decorating the Play Area, as well as providing a FIDA emblem to indicate its adopted status.
The visit ended with photo sessions.
FIDA Lagos Calls for the Enforcement of Relevant Laws and Regulations that Protect the Rights of Widows.
FIDA Lagos lends her voice to mark the Internation Widows’ Day 2022 calls for the enforcement of relevant laws and regulations that protect the rights of widows. The branch emphasized the need for Programmes and policies aimed at ending violence against widows and their children, poverty alleviation, education and other support to widows of all ages.
Discrimination and harmful practices must stop. Let us be intentional in the empowerment of widows to support themselves and their families and address social stigma. This should be the ultimate of every nation for sustainable development.
FIDA Lagos marked the International Widows Day with some widows from the Kosofe Community, sensitizing them on their legal rights and the role of the family in helping them buffer the stigma and the financial gap created by the death of their husbands at the FIDA secretariat.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Lagos Branch 2022 Law week programme with the theme “Education as a Catalyst for Boosting the Self Image of the African Child” took place between 14th and 18th June 2022.
The opening ceremony was held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Kofo Abayomi , Victoria Island, Lagos under the distinguished Chairmanship of Tunde Busari, SAN. The Chairperson, Law Week Planning Committee, Abiola Laseinde, FCIS presented the welcome address while the FIDA Lagos Chairperson, Chinwe Efobi, FICMC made the opening remarks.
The keynote paper was presented by Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose SAN. The very enlightening and impactful presentation touched on several areas of the importance of quality education and came to the conclusion that the need for all-round education can never be overemphasized.
In the words of Bamgbose, “Educating the African Child is the best investment for societal development, and a positive self-image and development cannot be attained without education. If Africa desired a better image and development like other countries, then investment in education cannot be compromised, given that a positive self-image of a child cannot be accomplished without good education” she concluded.
There was a panel session after the presentation of the keynote lecture. The speakers were Mr. Owolabi Mayowa, Managing Partner PISTIS Partners LLP; Chairman, Continuing Legal Education, NBA Lagos. Dr. Ifyeyinwa Awagu, Director, Institute of Humanities Pan Atlantic University. Dr. Foluke Dada, Legal Researcher, Associate Professor, Caleb University Magodo Lagos. The panel session also had Mrs. Joy C. Ezeigbo, the Regional Vice President FIDA Africa and former DCVP FIDA Nigeria.
From their submissions, it was agreed that both formal and informal sectors of education need serious attention and a creative measure of delivering the curriculum is immediately necessary. Finally, the need for parental responsibilities through intentional parenting should be the ultimate for every parent who desires a progressive and sane society for economic development.
The 15th June, 2022 was set aside to brainstorm on “Capacity building sessions for the female professionals”. The virtual session had in attendance erudite speakers from different professional bodies who indeed did justice to the subject matter. The speakers were; Toyin Sani, Group CEO, Emerging Africa Capital. Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka, General Manager, Fixed Broadband MTN Nigeria. Yinka Ogunde, Principal Consultant EDUMARK. Mfon Usoro, Managing Partner, Paul Usoro & Co. The virtual event was graciously attended by the FIDA NIGERIA Country Vice President (CVP), Mrs. Amina Susanah Agbaje, who gave the opening remarks, FIDA Lagos Branch Exco and members, members from sister branches and the general public.
On the 16th day of June 2022, FIDA Lagos members and the Exco led by the Chairperson Mrs. Chinwe Efobi proceeded to the Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children, Surulere Lagos to celebrate the International Day of the African Child and to join them in commemoration of their 60th Anniversary. FIDA Lagos made a presentation of food items and toiletries to the pupils who in return entertained us with well-presented songs. The event was an interactive and successful session.
The grand finale of the Law Week was the Red Carpet Dinner with the theme “The Red Banquet” which was held at Colossus International Hotels, Ikeja under the distinguished Chairmanship of Mr. Y. C. Maikyau SAN.
The FIDA Lagos Law week 2022 was indeed a well packaged, well attended, very impactful, and highly successful event.
On 31st May and 1st June 2022, FIDA Nigeria, Lagos State Branch with the support of UN Women on the Spotlight Initiative Project Phase II, held an inception meeting and capacity building workshop for civil society organization’s in Lagos State on gender-responsive budgeting.
The Program Manager of FIDA Nigeria Mr. Fikih Obaro the Facilitator discussed extensively the overview of the National Action Plan on GBV, and the overview of the National and Local legislation on GBV.
He also stressed that GRB does not mean dividing government expenditure 50:50 between women and men. Instead, they look at the budget from a gender perspective to analyze how it will meet and respond to the unique needs of everyone, including women and men, girls and boys. It was indeed an eventful outing