The new Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF) was today inaugurated by Nigerian Bar Association President (NBA), Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN. The handover and inauguration ceremony was held at the Westwood Hotel, Ikoyi.
The event witnessed the passing of the baton of leadership to the new executive and council members. Chinyere Okorocha, the new Chairperson, took the mantle of leadership from Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose SAN, the immediate past chairperson of the Forum.
Other executive committee members are Ifueko Alufohai, Vice-Chairperson; Irene Iniobong Pepple, Secretary and Mercy Ijato-Agada, Treasurer.
The event also ushered in the new Governing Council of the Forum comprising Folashade Alli, Soibi Ovia, Ekaete Ubokudom, Chinyere Okeziem-Nwoko, Musleemah Nagode Olamide, Oyeyemi Aderigbigbe and Mohammed Adama.
The ceremony was witnessed by distinguished members of the Bar and other notable guests. Aside from Maikyau, Justice Kazeem Alogba, Chief Judge of Lagos State was ably represented by Justice Nicol-Clay. Others are Ayotola Jagun, past NBAWF Governing Council member; Habeeb Akorede Lawal, NBA Publicity Secretary; Mandy Asagba, President, African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA); other NBA National Executive members, NBAWF committee members, state leads and branch coordinators.
In her welcome address, Jagun, who is also the Company Secretary of Oando, stated that NBAWF had evolved due to the dedication of the outgone executive members and through committees which reflect the needs of female lawyers in Nigeria.
She noted that the NBAWF is dedicated to its passion to empower, inspire and support female lawyers in Nigeria. Encouraging all female lawyers in Nigeria to be part of the NBAWF activities as the Forum is representative of female lawyers across the board, she charged all to be part of the change they want to see.
In his opening remarks, Maikyau lauded the Forum especially the outgone executives for laying a strong foundation for the new executives. He noted that the NBAWF has been of great support in attaining the general objectives of the NBA, and pledged his continuous support for the Forum. In his words, “the NBAWF is a pride to all and we will not relent in our efforts to support the Women Forum whenever our support is needed because this will also be in line with the objectives of the NBA”.
Maikyau stated that it was not enough to simply pass the baton of leadership but that the past executives must continually support the present administration.
The NBA President administered the oath of office on the Chairperson of the Women Forum, Chinyere Okorocha. The newly inaugurated Chairperson in turn carried out her first duty by administering the oaths of office on other executive members and council members.
In her handover report, Bamgbose congratulated the new executives for starting their tenure on a solid foundation and affirmed her support for the new leadership. She especially expressed confidence in the new chairperson, who was the vice-chairperson during her tenure and lauded her dedication and commitment to the objectives of the body.
Some of the landmark achievements of the Forum during her tenure were the creation of nine committees for the Forum in 2020; the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Women in Law Section of the New York State Bar in 2020; the signing of a research collaboration agreement with the Institute of African Women in Law in 2021; initiating a Sexual Harassment Policy which was adopted by the NBA in October 2022; organising of trainings and workshops on issues affecting female lawyers in Nigeria and yearly commemoration of the International Women’s Day. She thanked the past presidents of the NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN and Olumide Akpata for their support for the Forum in the past years.
Okorocha thanked her predecessor who she noted had left a big shoe for her to fill, as well as members of the Bar for their support. She expressed her unwavering resolve to honour the trust and confidence placed in her, and vowed that she would always act in the best interest, integrity and well-being of the Forum.
The Chairperson stated that her administration is committed to a 5-Point Agenda which included strengthening the Forum; building capacity for female lawyers in Nigeria; achieving nationwide coverage and recognition for the Forum; promoting female lawyers in leadership, and promoting work-life balance for women in the legal industry in Nigeria.
She expressed her administration’s commitment to institutionalise transparency and build the capacity of the members of the Forum. NBAWF Secretary Irene Iniobong Pepple gave the closing remarks and vote of thanks.
The NBA Women Forum serves as a critical voice for female lawyers in Nigeria. It is a platform for addressing various professional, legal, policy and legislative issues impacting women. The various programs of the Forum focus on trainings, empowerment, and building networks through collaboration and partnerships with various bodies. The forum focuses on issues that are mainly of interest to female lawyers in Nigeria, encouraging gender balance, expanding networks and developing the careers of its members, as well as advancing critical change in the legal profession in Nigeria.