By Henry Ojelu
The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships (ARISP) of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, has called on governments at all levels to provide urgent and adequate support for the judiciary, lawyers and educational institutions as they face the impending “tsunami of disputes and gridlock” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Olawuyi, a highly regarded professor of environmental law and Vice Chair of the International Law Association (ILA) worldwide, made these remarks during an online workshop on Friday, organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (Ikere Branch), in partnership with the Ekiti State Ministry of Justice, as well as the ILA.
Themed “Legal Practice Post Covid-19: Prospects, Challenges and The Way Forward “, the workshop featured two other eminent panelists, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Ekiti State, Mr Wale Fapounda, as well as the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Edo State, Professor Yinka Omorogbe.
The session was chaired by the Chairman of the Branch, Mrs Oludayo Olorunfemi.
In his remarks, Professor Olawuyi noted, “History tells us that in times of global catastrophe and economic distress, disputes and litigation will significantly increase, ranging from employment cases, to breach of contract, bankruptcy, insurance claims, and supply chain disruptions amongst others.
The judiciary, as well as lawyers, should be provided adequate support so that they can effectively handle the impending tsunami of disputes and not be overwhelmed.
In addition to technological, digitalization, financial and infrastructure needs, a number of disaster response mechanisms will be need to put in place at all levels to avoid institutional gridlock.”
Olawuyi also called on universities to develop tailored programs to train and prepare law students for the emerging legal order post-COVID 19.
While discussing some of the ongoing initiatives of the Ekiti State Government in this area, the Attorney General of Ekiti State, Mr. Wale Fapounda encouraged all lawyers to embrace the opportunities for technological innovation provided by the pandemic.
According to him, the Ekiti State Ministry of Justice will continue to work with all NBA branches in the State to assess areas of intervention and support.
In her remarks, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Edo State, Professor Yinka Omorogbe noted that the pandemic is already changing the face of the legal profession and justice delivery in Nigeria.
According to her, legal practice post-COVID-19 will have to be innovative, technology-driven and receptive to fresh ideas.
In closing the session, the Chairman of the Branch, Mrs. Oludayo Olorunfemi appreciated the exceptional leadership roles of the Ekiti State Ministry of Justice in providing ongoing support, training and motivation for young lawyers in the State.