*Chief Olufolake Solanke, SAN

By Innocent Anaba

The first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Folake Solanke, has expressed concern over government payment of ransom to criminals, who kidnap school students, noting that it was worsening security in schools across in the country.

Speaking on the occasion of the on-going International Women’s Day Conference organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, Women Forum, NBA-WF, she called on women lawyers to speak up against the kidnapping of schoolgirls, some of whom are still being held by their adductors, for over six years now.

This came as Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, President,  Mr Olumide Akpata noted that “There has been considerable progress made in accelerating women’s equality. Regrettably, however, there remain those less talked about issues and unconscious biases which have historically contributed and continue to contribute to the suppression of the female folk.”

Also, former Education Minister, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, who declared the conference open, called for the closing of the parity between males and females in the workplace, noting that research had shown that where more women were involved in running a business, the business had done better.

Chief Solanke, who spoke in a webinar, said young girls were kidnapped, though boys were kidnapped also, the girls are held for years and the government seems not to be doing enough to get them freed, while the bandits who kidnap them are not punished but given money.

She added that criminality should be punished but in our country, it appears criminality is rewarded and this would continue to encourage and embolden them and others would join in that way of life.

She cautioned lawyers against corruption, charging NBA-WF to focus on women, as it was not only men that are involved in corruption, saying: “If we are corruption-free, the whole country will be corruption-free.”

Chief Solanke also charged NBA-WF to do more by way of speaking out against the ills in society and assisting indigent persons.

“Speak up against those who cannot speak for themselves. Let’s speak in the language of the youths. Visit schools, visit hospitals. What assistance do we offer those who cannot help themselves? We should assist rape victims. We should be the voice of the society,” she charged NBA-WF.

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The theme of the conference is: Pathway to Diversity: Challenging Blindspots and Powering up for Inclusion.

Mr Akpata in his address at the event said: “For me, the most interesting event to look forward to is the training scheduled for day two for young female lawyers on the women empowerment principles gender gap analysis tool. I have always said that we have not scratched the surface in terms of the role that the legal profession in Nigerian can play in, and for, the Nigerian economy.

“This is why I continue to espouse the view that relative to our population, we do not have too many lawyers in Nigeria. We just have too many of our lawyers concentrated in the same geographical area and crowded in the same practice area. I have therefore made it a cardinal policy of my administration to emphasise the opening up of new frontiers of practice for our lawyers. To achieve this, we must devote significant time and resources to the training and retraining of our lawyers, especially the female lawyers.

“There is a well-known African proverb that says “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Permit me to add to that by saying that the enlightenment of our female lawyers, especially the young ones is the key to the statement of the modern legal profession that we all dream all. I, therefore, encourage all young female lawyers to take advantage of this fantastic initiative by taking part in the training tomorrow.

“Beyond this, there are the exciting initiatives currently being undertaken by our recently revitalised NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education, NBA-ICLE, on equipping our members with skills relevant to advancement in legal knowledge, legal business development and individual career advancement. Please endeavour not to be left out.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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