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Justice Oputa comes alive at Gadzama’s mentoring programme

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By Innocent Anaba

Three years after his death, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, fondly referred to as  ‘The Socrates of Supreme Court,’ resurrected at the 2nd edition of a professional training and mentoring programme for young lawyers, held in his honour, in Abuja.

The programme, organised annually by Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN,  is aimed at providing mentorship and sense of direction to legal practitioners below 10 years at the Bar.

*Justice Chukwudifu Oputa..

This year’s edition was chaired by a serving Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, who described the late Justice Oputa as “a legal icon.”

Justice Ogunbiyi said: “I am highly delighted to steer the course of this unique programme designed to upgrade the skills and knowledge of our young colleagues in the noble profession.  The organiser of this programme and the person whose evergreen memory it is solely dedicated to,  are two eminent personalities in the legal profession who have variously inscribed indelible marks on the sands of time.

“The eminent jurist took time to dish out invaluable nuggets on professional conduct and ethos every responsible lawyer must embrace to become successful in life and practice of law.”

Earlier, the organiser of the event, Chief Gadzama, stressed the need for other accomplished legal practitioners in the country to take mentoring of young lawyers more seriously.

He said that out of 500 young lawyers that applied to participate in the programmed, only 60 were shortlisted.

She said: “To the participants, I will say you have made the right choice of career. As lawyers, you carry a heavy burden on your shoulders. I need to remind you that from the very moment you are called to the Bar, you begin to experience a new status, a new identity and a new disposition.”

“If you think the legal profession is a bed of roses, I dare say that you are on the wrong side of the narrative. As you savour the inherent pride and fervour, so you are confronted with the challenge of living a legally regimented life where every page of your conduct is incisively scrutinized in the court of public opinion.”

“This is one aspect you cannot run away from. People see you as a symbol of law and legality; an individual who is perceived and presumed to always live above board. As a lawyer, you must be versatile. I would say you should be jack of all trades and master of all. Failure must never be an option in the course of responding to your professional calling.”

Earlier, the organiser of the event, Chief Gadzama, stressed the need for other accomplished legal practitioners in the country to take mentoring of young lawyers more seriously.

He said that out of 500 young lawyers that applied to participate in the programmed, only 60 of them were shortlisted.

“If one young lawyer attends it once, the person is not allowed to participate again so as to enable others to attend. It is not easy, it is something we have started and we must go on. We need to instil the traditions and ethics of the bar in these young ones. We want to get it right from the beginning,” Gadzama said.

Among legal luminaries that attended the 2nd Justice Oputa professional training and mentoring programme included the former Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, Chukwuma Ekomaru, SAN, as well former National President of International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Hauwa Shekarau.

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