The President of the International Bar Association (IBA) Horacio Neto has praised Nigeria for the warmth it showed him during his visit to the country.
Neto, who was in Lagos for the 59th Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference (AGC) at the Eko Hotel and Suites, said he renewed old relationships and made new friends during the visit.
He spoke at a dinner reception in his honour by a firm of international commercial lawyers and arbitrators, TRLPLAW.
TRLPLAW’s founders Prince Ajibola Oluyede and his wife Princess Funmi hosted the dinner.
Neto, from Sao Paolo in Brazil, said it was his first time in the country and it was an opportunity to connect with Mrs Oluyede, with whom he had worked at the IBA.
He said: “I find it interesting indeed that I met your wife long before I met you. We have been friends for many years, we have worked together on different projects, which are very relevant for the association. So, Funmi, thank you very much for everything you have done for Africa in the IBA and for the IBA in Africa
“Actually the IBA is the tie of friendship, on top of working together, the IBA is about friendship, about commitment, being happy to go somewhere and seeing your friends, it’s about the pleasure of being with your colleagues, it’s about planning, about diversity, it’s about going everywhere and knowing that you have friends in every place; this is the feeling that I have about Nigeria. I have many friends here.”
Explaining the inspiration for the dinner, Mr Jibola thanked his wife.
He noted the IBA President’s courage for deciding on the Nigeria trip despite untrue negative information about the country.
Ajibola said: “The idea of having a dinner came from my wife, she is the brain in our partnership.
“When they told me the IBA President was coming to Nigeria, I thought it was a momentous event, you know, to have someone like him coming to visit us, notwithstanding the various advisories you get about Nigeria, so we should really thank him because it (his visit) throws a different light about our country.
“You’re very welcome to Nigeria, we’re so happy to have you in Nigeria and we’re sure that this will leave you with a great impression of the country and it’s people… I assure you Nigerians are a fantastic people, not just lawyers.”
He praised the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr Paul Usoro SAN and his wife for honouring the dinner
“We’re really privileged to have you here, privileged to have our President and his beautiful wife Mfon, who we admire so much,” he said.
Returning the compliments, the NBA president commended Ajibola for his forthrightness and ability to speak truth to power
Usoro said: “If you have a difficult case and you need that lawyer who needs to stand very firm and tell the judge what you’re doing is wrong, then you need a Jibola’‘.
“I have been with him in the trenches a number of times. One of the most recent ones was the Bukola Saraki case. Then we needed somebody who could tell the judge, tell the man that see there is a distinction between My Lord and the Chairman of the CCT (Code of Conduct Tribunal) and Jibola was there, and not because he was grandstanding, but because he truly believed in the cause.
“He has a way of not only advocating, he lives his advocacy, he believes in advocacy with a passion and that’s Jibola.”
He praised the couple’s marriage as admirable and exemplary, adding, “somehow they are yet to tell me how they met, but it is very strange that two people with identical character and traits got married and their house is not in flames.
“But I congratulate them, I thank them so much for the honour that they have done to our guest Horacio.”
He further described the IBA President as “somebody who values relationships and who believes that relationships are important. That says something about him. And I believe its on the basis of that relationship that he’s with us today.”
One of the highlights of the night was when Ajibola presented a talking drum to Neto.
Members of the Owo Branch of the NBA also presented a gift to Prince and Princess Oluyede for their support to that branch.
Guests at the dinner, including senior members of the Bar, such as O. C. J. Okocha SAN, Gbenga Oyebode, George and Efe Etomi, Wale Babalakin SAN, J. B. Gadzama SAN, Emeka Ngige SAN, Dorothy Ufot SAN, NBA Vice President Dr Foluke Dada, Mrs. Sena Anthony, Tunde Ajibade SAN, HRM Oba Odidiomo of Igbokoda, Group Captain Jika of the NAF, Ayo Akintunde SAN, SAN-designate Ebun-Olu Adegborowa, FIDA CVP Rhoda Tyoden, African Women Lawyers’ Association (AWLA) President Mandy Asagba, among others, were entertained by Nigerian dance troupes.