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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

THE TIGERS’ SUPER WEEK


Wow, what a wonderful week it was for members of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, last week! It was the week set apart by the Ikeja Bar, a.k.a Tiger Branch to celebrate their branch by holding series of diverse programmes in special honour of the branch and for the education and entertainment of members and friends of the branch.
Since her inception in 1983, the Tigers have been having their “Law Weeks” but none arguably has surpassed the 2009 edition, especially in terms of quality entertainment and refreshment. Of course this is not to say, it was a perfect Week, executed flawlessly. There were visible signs of sometimes embarrassing “irregularities” like late starts, “publicity mis-prints”, “shumeric” (uncouth) behaviour on the part of some members of the Law Week Committee, like the ladies who greedily and selfishly carted home huge quantities of ‘after-events’ foods and drinks without a thought for others, even extending the same attitude, indeed aptitude to the Sheraton Hotel on Dinner day (May 1 2009).
One thing was certain however, both the Executive Committee and the M.O. Ubani led Law week Committee raised the bar for the organization of Law weeks in the Tiger Bar. The week, with the inspiring theme of “THE ROLE OF LAWYERS IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT” started on Monday 27th April 2009 with a well-attended press conference at the Bar Centre, Ikeja High Court, the Secretariat of the Tigers. The conference was staged to publicise the Law week.
On Tuesday, the 28th April 2009 about fifty Tigers paid a visit to the Ikoyi Prisons. The honorable Chief-Judge of Lagos State, Adetula Alabi J. accompanied by his top aides like Mrs. Latifat Folami, the Chief Registrar and Mrs. Folake Oshin, Deputy Chief Registrar, was also on the visit. At the end of the visit, quite a lot of toiletries were donated by the Tigers to the institution and sixteen of the inmates were graciously pardoned and set free by the Chief Judge.
On Wednesday, 29th April the Tigers staged a Law Clinic at Alade, the popular “rich man’s” market in Ikeja. The Law Clinic is a programme started five years ago in the administration of Adekunle Ojo esq as chairman of the branch (2004-2006). Although very well organized, with about seventy Tigers in attendance, as well as Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the former Governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu, only a few of the Alade Market traders availed themselves of the opportunity of the Law Clinic to receive free legal counseling and services.
In the evening, the Tigers, numbering about a hundred in all, repaired to the Martinos, an events centre at the Central Business District, Ikeja, Lagos, for their Variety Night. What a thrilling night it turned out to be! Aside the D.J - a suitably competent hand, three singing acts and one comedian, there was a thirty-man dancing troupe in attendance.
There was no dull moment at all, from the beginning of the V.N to the end as all the performers put up scintillating acts, the most outstanding being the dancing troupe with their energetic and synchronised and enthralling dancing steps and acrobatics coupled with beautiful drumming and singing.
The roof almost came down when the troupe invited their appreciative spectators of lawyers to join them on stage. The ecstasy heightened when Segun Adebayo, an up-coming actor and lawyer and Funke Akindele the producer and the lead character in the awards-raking Yoruba movie Jenifa joined in the dancing. All through, light refreshment and drinks were served in neat, organized fashion.
On Thursday 20th April 2009 at the same Martinos, the Tigers were held down to another round of “edutainment” this time in the form of intellectual engagement courtesy of a lecture-ably delivered by Professor Yemi Osinbajo S.A.N, the former Attorney General of Lagos State. The lecture, chaired by Honourable Justice Dolapo Akinsanya, retired judge of the Lagos State High Court, was entitled the The Imperative of Electoral Reforms in Constitution Governance in Nigeria.
Four eminent lawyers - Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, Mr. Fred Agbaje, Deacon Dele Adesina S.A.N and MR. Lawal Pedro, (who represented the Governor at the occasion) discussed Professor Osinbajo’s paper. It must be noted that Professor Oyewo’s contribution was the most engaging.
On Friday May 1 2009, the fifth day of the Law week, the Tigers first programme of the day was a football match between the football team of the branch and the Youth Soccer of their neighbour, the Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church.
It was no surprise that the church team won a resounding 3-0 victory over the Tigers. While the church team had an average age of 22 years for the players, the Tigers averaged no less than 37 years. They lacked both stamina and team co-ordination. Their fortunes went from bad to worse in the second half, with the exit of their captain, Adesina Ogunlana, due to thigh injury.
Even though the Tigers lost, they put up a stiff resistance and were cheered lustily by their supporters club led by Mrs. Gloria Nweze, the branch treasurer. At the end of the match, a lot of soft-drinks, meat-pies and scotch-eggs were provided for both teams and their supporters.
In the evening, the Tigers had a much happier outing at the Sheraton Hotel for their Dinner. Since inception of the branch, this would only be the second time the Tigers would be having their Law Week Dinner at the Sheraton.
The first time in 1992, it ended in fiasco as food ran out after the first fifty guests were served. But this year, even after more than the three hundred guests who came for the dinner served themselves ample and rich portions, there was food enough for at least no less than another hundred. Seeing the vast amount of scrumptious dishes still remaining, two members of the Law Week Committee, who had distinguished themselves a day before at the Lecture Hall as specialists in appropriating left-overs, tried to acquire the “remainder surplus” but were rebuffed by shocked and indignant Sheraton Hotel Staff, who shooed them away with icy remarks that: “This is a buffet, what your organization paid for is the satisfaction of three hundred guests, and nothing more”.
One of the leftovers-take over (LOTO) 'specialists' Mrs. Lynda Echeta, who heroically hauled off no less than thirty cans and bottles of soft drinks and some loads of food and meat, in open day-light without assistance after the Thursday lecture, was actually seen unfurling a poly-bag at the Sheraton, after Dinner, preparatory to loading some leftovers. The uncompromising Sheraton staff-officials however firmly killed her dream, leaving her grumpy and disappointed.
The very well attended dinner, chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice George Oguntade, attracted the No 1 and 2 citizens of the State, in the persons of Mr. Babatunde Fashola S.A.N, Governor of the State and Mr. Ikuforiji, the Honourable Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, who was to later make a salient and poignant point that even though he, not being a lawyer is called 'unlearned,' yet he is the one who makes laws for the so called 'learned ones' (lawyers) to use.
The dinner started in earnest at 7.30 p.m. with the introductions to the high table handled by the duo of Deacon (Pastor) Dele Adesina S.A.N and Mrs. Tola Rotimi, Director, Office of the Public Defender (OPD) as comperes.
Four men, in the estimate of this magazine were the best dressed males at the dinner. Only three of them will be identified though. The first is Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu S.A.N, the president of the NBA who was quite a nice sight to behold with his natural Father Christmas moustache and grizzlies, coupled with his rich red bow-tie and pocket ’kerchief, certainly no Aba-made or Iwo road junction procurement.
The second is E.O. Ogundare Esq, a Chief Magistrate and a Deputy Chief Registrar, Lagos State High Court whose attempt to sit anonymously in the crowd of diners was frustrated by his handsome red waist coat which cut so perfectly matched the outlines of his jacket and shirt lapels and front to form a beguiling cupid’s heart.
The third is the master of ceremony himself Dele Adesina S.A.N. Just like Ogundare, the silk had a fetching red waist coat on. It was a quilted design that spoke glowingly of the glorious tapestry of Persian rugs and certainly made the ordinarily handsome Adesina, very attractive indeed.
As for the ladies, outstanding dressers were many but arguably the most spectacular was the wife of the Publicity Secretary of the branch, Mrs. Abdullateef Abdulsalam, whose all white ball-gown with matching blue and white turban and shoes made her truly impressive and regal.
The hottest babe of the evening however came in a smashing black, ‘back-less’ dress, leaving many men gaping and breathless. However seeing her in the risky company of a self-trained snooper who made a far and hidden corner of the hall his observatory perch, none came too near to express his interest.
Speaking at the occasion, the chairman of the dinner, Oguntade JSC observed that while it would be untrue to contend that since independence, Nigeria has not made progress, there is room for more progress.
His lordship urged lawyers to assist the courts in decongesting courts of cases, by practicing diligent and socially responsible advocacy. The chairman of the NBA Ikeja, Mr. Dave Ajetomobi, called upon to make his speech, used the opportunity to extol the virtues of Raji Fashola S.A.N as the Governor of the state and announced that a book of selected articles will soon be published by the branch in honour of the Governor.
After the Chairman’s speech, Mr. Wale Ogunade, a member of the Law Week Committee, read the citation of the Governor, who later received a plaque from Mr. Dave Ajetomobi. Another speaker at the dinner was the president of the NBA, who admonished and warned his colleagues that in the face of the distasteful social realities in the country that “the time might come, when we may have to throw away our suits and defend the constitutional liberties of our people.” In other words, lawyers should be prepared for revolution.
When called upon to make a speech, the Governor jokingly replied that he was only prepared to come and have an enjoyable dinner. But speak, His Excellency eventually did. For about twenty minutes. He spoke on the need to pay taxes, the need to sanction breachers of electoral laws, and his government's interest in making Reforms in the Land use legal regime.
The governor did not only employ facts and figures in his speech. He also showed traces of humour. For example, according to him for being located in the capital of Lagos State, the Ikeja Bar is not the Tiger Bar as she likes to call herself but the Capital Bar. The Governor made a passing remark about the honourable Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Supo Sasore SAN in this humorous fashion - “I have an A.G who I will not trade for any other. Some people say they are the biggest but empty. But my A.G is the tallest in the Federation but full of content.”
The much awaited Dinner, came to pass after the Governor’s speech and all had more than enough to feast on. In the course of doing justice to the meals, the guests were entertained by a comedian (the same for Thursday). The comedian gave a fair account of himself but could have done better.
Thereafter Mr. Femi Falana gave the toast of Lagos State while Honourable Ikuforiji, gave the toast of the Bar.

It was time to draw the curtains on a memorable night.

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