‘I’d rather be a judge than a prof or SAN’

Mojirola Helen Ibiyemi’s childhood dream was to become a surgeon, but her father preferred nursing. A few years later, she found herself at the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, facing her most-dreaded course: Law of Evidence. Mrs Ibiyemi, now the publicity secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ilorin Branch, shares her law story with ROBERT EGBE.

 

Though uneducated, dad loved education 

My name is Mojirola Helen Ibiyemi nee Adeniran. I was born into the family of Chief Bernard and Mrs Iyabode Adeniran from Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. I’m married to Mr. Opeyemi Ibiyemi from Edidi, Ifelodun Local Government also in Kwara State.

I have been working with the law firm of P.A.O Olorunnisola, SAN & Co. since I was called to the Bar and I am presently the Head of Chambers, a member of the NBA Ilorin Branch (the publicity secretary), a member of NBA Women Forum (NBAWF). I’m also an active member of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). To serve humanity, I joined Rotary International. I am the vice- president of Rotary Club of Ilorin Metro – The Phoenix Club.

Both of my parents were traders before their passing on (God bless their souls). I am from a polygamous home; my father had three wives, my mother was the last. In all, we are 10 children, I am number eight (first child of my mother). My father believed so much in education (he never had formal education).

Boarding school was fun 

I attended Eucharistic Heart Nursery & Primary School, Ibonwon in Epe, Lagos State; Queens College, Yaba, Lagos and Queen Elizabeth School in Ilorin for my secondary school education. I was in boarding school right from my primary school days up to secondary. The boarding house was really fun for me, though.

Fear of Law of Evidence 

I am an  alumnus of the ‘Better By Far University – University of Ilorin.’ Graduated in 2011 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari Campus afterwards. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in November 2012. Studying law was actually interesting for me. I remember when I gained admission into the  university and we were registering our courses, one course that stood out was Law of Evidence. Even though the course was to be taken in our fourth year, I was scared of the course right from my first year. The news making the rounds was that it was a difficult course, the lecturer was also difficult, one could not get an A in it, bla bla bla. Finally, when I got to year four, I discovered the course wasn’t so bad as it was painted even though I had a C in first semester and B in second semester. Some of my best memories in school was with friends. I was in class with some of the most beautiful and intellectual persons; we were over 200 in my set. It was a large class.

Dad wanted me to be a nurse

Nobody in my family studied Law. My father was happy when he heard I was admitted for Law even though he wanted me to be a nurse. To be honest, as a child I always thought I would be a surgeon. Later on it dawned on me (and my parents too) that I wasn’t good in the sciences and I really wanted to go for a professional course so the next best thing was Law, I chose Law then.

I attended a party few days to my Bar Ffinals

Law school was just law school. Law school was a totally different ball game from what we were used to at the university. Law school wasn’t as difficult as imagined, actually even though you could be taught a whole semester work at the university in just a day in law school. My formula for success was ‘know thyself’ – study hard and study when you know you can assimilate well. I am not a day reader, my brain works and functions better at midnight till early hours of the morning. Once you know what works for you, it is better to achieve success and I cannot forget the place of God in all of it too, it is grace to start and finish right at the law school, it’s not a place I wish for worst enemy to go back to. I had time for recreation as well, as the saying goes, all work and no play… in fact hanging out and gisting with friends was part of my therapy for success. I remember I left campus with my friend, Bimbezy, few days before the Bar Finals to party. It was a needed break at that point because my brain wasn’t processing what I was studying anymore. We had a lot of fun before we returned to campus for the Bar Finals. I can say that helped me pass, it was a well-deserved break.

Why mum didn’t attend my Call to Bar 

There was no Call to Bar party for me. Only my younger brother came for the Call to Bar. As at that time, my father had passed on (he passed on in my year 4). My brother, Patrick, was still a student at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, so he just came from Zaria to Abuja for the call ceremony. My mother was the only one left raising us, funds weren’t enough for her to come over.

Awards

The one or two awards I had were not academic awards. I was Miss Hourglass or so and I am also good with drama so I got various awards for my drama.

First day in a courtroom

My first day was with my boss then and (still my boss till date) we were in court together and he just told the court that his junior would be taking the applications before the court. I was a bit shocked but was confident that I could do it as I had already read the file very well. I got up and did very well. Actually no, I haven’t (had any embarrassing court appearances yet). Practice has been sweet and educative for me.

Law school grading system 

We all passed through it, and my belief is that you should go there and ensure you put in your best, so that no matter what grading system is used you will come out in shinning colours. You will not bother about the system used.

Wig, gown should stay

I don’t believe it should be scrapped, it’s our means of identity and I know definitely that anyone who wants to be a lawyer already knows what they are getting into and chose to follow through with it. The wig and gown should stay.

SAN, professor or judge? 

I would choose to be a judge, I have always loved the bench. This is because it allows me to help others and express myself at the same time, I am someone who likes to say it as it is and not cover up wrong doing. As a Rotarian (PHF+) service is one of our cardinal points, and hence my love for fairness and equity in all that I do.

Being NBA Ilorin Publicity Secretary has opened my eyes

Well as the Publicity Secretary, NBA-Young Lawyers forum, Ilorin, there was really nothing spectacular about that time, but as for being the current Publicity Secretary, NBA Ilorin I am having a great time. I will say that it has opened my eyes to life and duty from a new perspective. The highlight so far is the launch of the branch’s monthly Newsletter – The Attorney. It was a huge success and has not slowed down till date. I am presently working on a bio-data for the branch and it is going to make my job as the Publicity Secretary a lot easier.