At its Annual Dinner held on 15 December 2023, the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association honoured Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN, a former Chairman of the Branch with the Exceptional Service Award alongside three other distinguished members of the Branch.

Mr. Ikwuazom’s contributions to the development of lawyers and the legal profession have been immense, and he is often lauded for his several accomplishments as Chairman of the Branch. His blueprint for what a modern Bar Association should be like and his innovative reforms have institutionalised transparency and human capital development in the Branch, and some of his initiatives have been implemented by the NBA at the National level.

Recall that as Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch, Mr Ikwuazom, SAN reconstituted and reinvented the Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Lagos Branch. His administration made knowledge sharing sessions (KSS), a permanent feature of the Lagos Branch monthly meetings, and gave members an added reason to attend Branch meetings. The effect of this was that attendance at Branch meetings rose from an average of about 300 to over 1000, compelling the Branch to move its meetings which, at that time, was 100% physical from the Foyer of the High Court in Igbosere to City Hall.

The many Continuous Legal Education (CLE) activities of his administration include (1) the firm-led trainings whereby a firm with expertise on a field of law will organise a training for Branch members at no cost to the branch, (2) speed or group mentorship whereby a distinguished Senior lawyer would undertake the mentorship of members of the Branch in an informal setting that ensured that the mentees felt reasonably comfortable to engage with the mentor – leading from the front, Mr Ikwuazom ensured that the very first mentorship session was by his partner, Gbenga Oyebode, MFR and (3) the one-to-one mentorship initiative pursuant to which over 200 young members of the Lagos Branch were paired with mentors carefully selected from different parts of the world.

Under Mr Ikwuazom’s leadership, the Branch started the monthly publication of the accounts of the Branch (expenditure, income and bank balances) in advance of its monthly meetings, an uncommon show of transparency and accountability. Little wonder, the finances of the Branch grew significantly under his leadership.

His administration reorganised and repositioned the Secretariat of the Branch and he rallied his friends to raise funds to relocate the Branch’s office from a small room at the High Court in Igbosere (given to the Branch by the Judiciary) to a comfortable office space at City Hall. His administration laid the foundation for the NBA Lagos House currently under construction in Lekki, Lagos. He currently chairs the Building Committee for that project in continuation of his service to his Branch.

Under his leadership, the Human Rights Committee, led by the very dependent and hardworking Mrs Bolatunmi Animashaun, recorded many unprecedented achievements including securing the releases of a large number of awaiting trial inmates.

Mr. Ikwuazom’s administration was the first to organise an election by way of electronic voting for the NBA Lagos Branch at a time that no other Branch had done so.

Other awardees include the immediate past Branch Chairman and Attorney General of Abia State who also served creditably as Branch Secretary in the Ikwuazom-led EXCO, Ikechukwu Uwanna; the current Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Lawal Pedro, SAN; and the immediate past Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch Dinner Planning Committee and co-chair of the 2023 NBA AGCPC, Oyikan Badejo-Okusanya.

The Annual Dinner was a remarkable event, attended by judges, dignitaries and legal practitioners from the various branches of the NBA, and served as a platform for lawyers to dine, wine, unwind and honour those who have positively impacted the legal profession.

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