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J.S Okutepa, Other Legal Luminaries Speak At Career/Mentorship Programme in PAAU

On Saturday, 29 July, 2023, The Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSA), Prince Abubakar Audu University (PAAU) chapter, organised a career and mentorship program tagged “Bold Transitions in the Legal Profession”. 

The program which took place at the Twin Law Lecture Theater (LT 1) had in attendance distinguished legal professionals such as Jibrin Okutepa SAN, Mustapha Ibrahim SAN and Ojoma Haruna, AIMIC, Deputy Chief Registrar Judicial Service Commission, Kogi State.  

The hosting team comprised the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, Prof. D.F Atidoga; the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Obaje Enemaku; Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law, Dr. Shedrack Ekpa and other law lecturers. The program had over 200 students in attendance, comprising students across all levels of the faculty. 

The event was initiated to create a mentor/mentee relationship between the legal luminaries and the students and it started with the opening prayers and reciting the national anthem.

Then Friday Ekpa, Esq., a lecturer of the faculty introduced the special guests and Prof. Enemaku, the Dean, gave his opening address.

In his address, he commended the caliber of speakers who were present at the program, urging the students to pay keen attention as the speakers have a wealth of knowledge students will be grateful for. He also commended the effort of Reuben Egwuaba, a former student, for donating a borehole to the faculty.

The first paper was delivered by Ms. Haruna, AICMC the deputy chief registrar, judicial commission, Kogi State, who was standing in dual capacity, as a speaker and a representative of the Honorable Chief Judge of Kogi state, Joe Majebi. Delivering the paper on behalf of the chief judge, she encouraged students to embrace the paradigm shift that comes with taking bold steps in the legal profession.

“Bold transitions in the judiciary entails judicial reforms, innovative ways of advancing justice, court automation, justice delivery by providing value-adding legal solutions to court users, conducive environment, technology and access to data and a paradigm shift from obsolete practices. It also includes rapid change on fundamental, socio-political and economic issues, including but not limited to the rule of law, access to justice, independence and self-sustainability of the judicial arm of government”.

In his address, Mr Okutepa, SAN, started by recognising the presence of all dignitaries. He also commented on the persistence of Ufedojo Victory Okoliko, the president of the LAWSAN PAAU chapter, in ensuring that he graced the event with his presence. He also commended the dean of the faculty of law for allowing the students to participate in such an event.

In addressing the students, he emphasized that the legal profession is one that requires patience to learn and submit to mentorship.

“If you want to make money in Nigeria as quickly as possible without going through any process, the worst place to be is the legal profession”.

While sharing some of his personal experiences with the students, he urged them to be bold and courageous and avoid seeking crooked parts to attain heights in the legal profession. Concluding his speech, he emphasised the need to uphold the rule of law no matter how painful it may be.

“Without the rule of law, we will go back to the state of nature where the mighty becomes right and life becomes short, brutish and nasty, that is why no matter the pain, we must promote the rule of law”.

Ms. Haruna, took the students through some key terminologies in the legal profession, criteria for appointment to the bench in Nigeria and emerging trends in the legal profession. She talked about the use of virtual legal assistants and Artificial Intelligence (AI) judges in advanced countries of the world. She encouraged students to up their games and keep in touch with emerging technological trends.

Concluding her paper, she said “I further advocate that if actively practicing law doesn’t seem to fit anymore, a legal practitioner can always diversify into education, teaching law to students”. 

Mr Ibrahim, in his speech emphasized three core values a law student must possess – focus, direction and hard work.

“Set from the beginning your own drive, give yourself a focus, have a direction of where you want to go and you will definitely get there”.

He concluded by assuring the students that the sky is big enough for everyone to express their diversity and special abilities in the legal profession, whether they fail or succeed therefore is in their hands.

Lecturers of the faculty present at the program also encouraged students to have a vision and stick to that vision, work towards it and in due time their hard work will be rewarded.

Dr. Ekpa, the Deputy Dean of the faculty gave the closing remark. He thanked the guests and students for their time and patience, he also commended the efforts of the LAWSA president in bringing together such caliber of guests. 

On behalf of LAWSA, Ummusalam Muhammed, the Vice President of LAWSA thanked the guests for the sacrifices made to be at the event, she expressed her joy at the high turnout of the students and prayed that everyone returns to their destinations safely.

The program ended with a closing prayer, snapshots with dignitaries and refreshments.

Participants React

Giving his opinion on how the program turned out, Friday Ekpa, a lecturer at the faculty of law said, “I think this was an excellently packaged program, the caliber of speakers is not something you can just put up by waving your hands”. 

He commended the efforts of the LAWSA president for a job well-done and encouraged students to look beyond the incentives promised by the speakers and be genuinely interested in the practical aspects of law.

The LAWSA President, Ms. Okoliko expressed her excitement at the success of the program;

“I am so excited that it was a success especially for the speakers who took all the sacrifice to drive down here”. She was grateful for the turnout of students and stated that if the short academic calendar permits, there will be more programs and activities before her tenure as the LAWSA president comes to an end.

“We had a lot of dignitaries, people that are highly placed in the profession already. It was a swell time and we got a lot of value from senior advocates and the magistrate. Listening to J.S Okutepa, SAN, opened up a lot of insight into the future”, said Fidelis Jacob, a 300 level student.

Melody Oyewole, a 200 level student was particularly happy that she got to learn of things that cannot be found in textbooks and was grateful for such an experience.

For the final year students, the program could not have come at a better time as it helped prepare their minds for what to expect outside the walls of a classroom. 

“It was done at a very good time when I am leaving, and I think I have gotten all the tidbits and nitty-gritty demanded of me to actually do my bid when the time comes”, said William Adama.

The students look forward to more exciting events and the implementation of promises made by the dignitaries.

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1 Comment

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    […] Abubakar Audu University, Ayingba (PAAU). This appointment was made at the 1-day career/mentorship program that took place at the Faculty of Law, PAAU, on Saturday, 29 July, 2023. This appointment was made […]

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