He is an indigene of Anambra State. Okigbo Philip Ikenna attended Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka where he obtained his LL.B. Ikenna was called to Bar in 2012. He shares his foray into the legal profession with JOHN CHIKEZIE
My name is Okigbo Philip Ikenna and I am from Ojoto town, in Idemili South Local Government in Anambra State. I obtained a Secondary School Certificate at FGC Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State in 2004. In 2010, I graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka with a Bachelor degree in Law and thereafter enrolled into Kano campus of the Law School in 2011. I was called to Bar on February 14, 2012.
Well, I was of a very young age when I took the decision to study law but my father majorly influenced the decision. This was because he realised my drive and passion for kindness, reaching out to under privilege and indigent people.
Generally, I had earlier thought I would achieve that if I become a nurse, but my father advised me on the contrary and promised that I will achieve more than I ever intended with the legal practice. However, reluctantly I took the jamb examination and got the required cut-off mark for law. I can state categorically that I’ve never regretted that decision of being a lawyer.
My pupilage started when I was in law school. It was always a routine during the Law School programme to send law students to chambers and court for practical experience.
In this instance, I was sent to a Maduechesi & Co at Ontisha, Anambra State. Then, it was a mild and calm experience. My principal squarely encouraged me to study hard in order to pass my Bar exam, which was my major priority. Often times he would advise me on what I should expect in the legal practice and general life of a lawyer.
His advice was purely based on his personal experience and how he wriggled himself afloat.
At that time, I strongly believed that the purpose for the chamber attachment programme by the law school was wholly met.
My principal, Maduechesi was good at litigation and I wasn’t surprised when he was elevated to the Bench as a High Court Judge in Anambra State, although that was after my pupilage there. The pupilage continued after I resigned from Etisalat and joined a law firm as the only practical experience I had was from Maduechesi & co chambers, and since I had a short time experience, I delved into non-law practice in Etisalat. On a lighter note it was uneasy but as time went on I realised my potential and capabilities as a lawyer. It was an insight of comfort during those uneasy times.
The major challenge I’ve faced as a young lawyer since my 8 years of practice is the financial challenge.
At most, 90% of young lawyers in law practice encounter this same problem. Although this is a major challenge that sweeps across both young and senior lawyers, it gets worse when you are engaged in a law firm without experience and the pay will be so minimal that it can barely afford a transport fare to work on monthly basis. However, there is a little financial difference if you have the required experience.
The only saving grace is if the law firm you engaged allows you to do private practice.
So far, I have noticed tremendous improvements in the dispensation of justice. For instance, the courts no longer rely on technicality and always ready to determine cases on merit. Secondly, the courts are empowered to direct matters to some legal clinics for mediation, in that way matters are amicably settled as soon as possible via Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). Also, in Lagos, there are now mobile courts that handle traffic offences.
Lastly, a directive recently given to all magistrates in all magisterial districts in the country to always inspect prison and cells to avoid injustice meted on anybody. With all this apparatus in place, tremendous improvement has permeated the Nigerian justice system.
Marrying a lawyer
I can marry any woman irrespective of her discipline/profession except undertakers. Physical abuses to one’s spouse by the female gender is not peculiar to female lawyers alone it cuts across all professions and being a lawyer should make any female lawyers to thread softly as equally being aware in detail of all legal consequences therein. In addition I think what is common in female lawyers is insubordination to their husbands than physical abuses.
We are not trained to a wrestler or boxer. No profession has it better.
Exclusion of young lawyers as NBA NEC
My view on inclusion of young lawyers as Executive committee of NBA is a positive one. I believe that young lawyers have lots of untapped potential needed and beneficial to the law profession as a whole.
Exclusion of the young lawyers is purely the exclusion of a better future for the NBA. Just like the new bill signed by the president that encourages young people to contest for presidency, Governors even senate and House of Representatives. Now younger magistrate in early 30s are springing up, so, NBA should equally join the moving train. Since almost all spheres in Nigeria are determined to include young persons in governance, NBA should not be an exception.
There is no way the NBA can cater or be in better position to understand and help resolve the travails of young lawyers if not including young lawyers in its midst.
Let’s say it would encourage a better representation in such a way that no one neglected or left out.
A senior lawyer can argue that he or she equally passed through the bleak stage of younger lawyers and can be in better position to improve therein. The question that comes to mind is what major intervention have they achieved all this while since they’ve been in power?
The fact is that the present travails of a young lawyer are quite different from the era when these senior lawyers were much younger. I believe times have truly changed.
Therefore, I strongly believe that in order to mark a laudable achievement for younger lawyers in travails, they should be included in piloting members of the NBA.
Judges and Senior Advocates in corruption trial
Well the court is for everyone at any point in time and there must be litigants irrespective of their profession. Therefore Judges and SANs are like every other litigant.
But on this subject of the criminal trials going on now, it shouldn’t send wrong signals to the populace because it is just anticipatory defaming them when the matter is still subjudice.
It should send a wrong signal when the court of competent jurisdiction finds them liable or guilty of whatever offence they are charged for.
So, I think it is premature to flatly judge them before they are convicted.
Also I think that what causes this erroneous discouragement is the political motivation and drive behind it, including media trials before the matter actually commences in court.
People should rather not entrust mentorship on persons in their individual capacity but also the offices they occupy in that way less of discouragement happens.
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