The Ibadan Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will celebrate Chief Afe Babalola SAN and other prominent legal practitioners as it set out a week-long programme to celebrate its 65th anniversary.
Speaking in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, chairman of Ibadan NBA, Dr Oluwole Akintayo, said the event was to celebrate 31 former chairmen of the branch and other prominent legal practitioners in the country who had, at various times, been helpful in the development of the Ibadan Bar.
“Ibadan Bar was established in 1954 and we are celebrating our 65th anniversary. We believe it is something worth celebrating. People may ask why 65 and not 70. 70 will be five years time and it is a long time from now.
“In the legal profession, 65 is a significant number because most judges retire at 65. Except for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges who retire at 70, High Courts and courts of coordinate jurisdiction judges retire at 65.
“The national association will be celebrating 60 next year. Someone may feel why the incongruity. The point is that the legal profession began in Lagos in the 1860s with the establishment of courts. So, there were leaders of the Bar who emerged in Lagos, including Sapara Williams, Kitoye Ajasa and many of them.
“But the association then was not that organised and more so, since the whole of the association was in Lagos, it was representing the Bar. It was not until around 1959 that the national association was to organise properly.
“In 1954, most likely due to the federal constitution adopted that year, with the establishment of regional high courts, legal practitioners then felt that a Bar association should be established and the Western Nigerian Bar Association was so established that year. So, we had the privilege of some 31 persons being chairmen of the Bar.
“So, the anniversary offers us unique opportunity to celebrate them and we are celebrating not only our chairmen; we also have some people who did not hold offices but were quite helpful in seeing to the development of the Bar up to this level,” he said.
Akintayo said the theme of the 65th anniversary celebration is “Law, Probity and Good Governance: Practical Approach to Making Nigeria Greater”, adding that the programme would kick-start with a Jumat Service on Friday, while Professor Olaide Gbadamosi, Provost, College of Law, Osun State University would speak at the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture on Saturday.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State would be the Keynote Speaker at the opening ceremony to be chaired next Monday by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN of Ondo State, while Justice M. L. Abimbola, the Chief Judge of Oyo State would be special Guest of Honour and Mr Paul Usoro, NBA President, would be the Chief Host.
Also, as part of the activities for the event, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, would declare the Tuesday session open, with the topic, “Governance and Challenges of Infrastructural Deficit in Nigeria.”
There will be “Conversation With Bar Leaders” later in the day, even as there would be a discussion on “Court Reforms and Effective Service Delivery in the Justice Sector”, on Wednesday, to be declared open by Justice J. O. Bada, the presiding judge of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division.
A human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN, would speak on “The Rule of Law and Access to Justice: Court Reform, The Role and Challenges of an Independent and Inconclusive Bar” at a session to be chaired by Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN, on Thursday.