Nigeria: All-Women Law Firm Using ‘Free Justice’ to Support the Poor and Oppressed against the Bullies
They are all women, whose passion is to help humanity, to return hope to the hopeless in the Nigerian society. They believe that justice must not be one-sided. The women hold that whether rich or poor, everyone deserves a fair treatment in the law courts and in all spheres of life for that matter.
This is what Headfort Chambers, an all-women law firm stands for and this is the passion that drives them daily despite the enormous challenges they face amid the uncertainties of life and Nigeria’s vacillating justice system.
Headed by Oluyemi Adetiba-Orija, a legal practitioner, solution provider, goal-getter, and optimistic lady who goes about her life with the fear of God, Headfort Chambers comprises other young women who share the same passion and dream with her to be the voice of the poor and oppressed.
Mrs. Olyemi Orija, Philanthropist and CEO with a heart full of charm
“We didn’t want to make it an all--women, what we are doing is to represent indigents in Nigerian prisons for them to get justice. The men folk see that this has not been a lucrative job because there is no money in what we are doing. But I must say that women are the compassionate and the tender gender. Women have passion for justice. So, when women walk into our organisation and we tell them what we do, they are quick to resonate and are eager to be part of us regardless of the pay. The trend is that people come for recruitment but at the end of the day the women are more interested, it was not just our intention to make it all-women,” Orija tells Timescape Magazine.
Orija, an alumnus of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State southwest Nigeria, believes the Nigerian judiciary system is not helping the cause of justice in Nigeria, a country which claims to practice a democratic system of government.
“Lagos State is estimated to have a population of about 20 million people, and I came to realise that we don’t have up to 100 judges on ground to handle cases of different kinds in a metropolitan city as Lagos. This means that one judge may handle more than a thousand cases at a time. It is expected that such a judge will keep on adjourning cases because he or she cannot do more than expected and this brings about the unnecessary delays we are talking about. The state government has its own share of the blame. I am talking of Lagos State because we operate here. There should be an environment of good communication between the court and the lawyers for them to know sitting days and time. It is not good for me to leave my home for the court only to be told that the court is not sitting for that day,” Orija notes.
Team members at all-women law firm, Headfort Chambers, Lagos
She also regrets that the prosecuting power given to the Nigeria Police is not fostering the cause of good justice in the country: “Why do the police prosecute in the first place when they are not lawyers? But the law permits the police to prosecute at the magistrate level notwithstanding that they are not lawyers. However, this has disadvantages and advantages. The disadvantages overweigh the advantages. One of the demerits of this is that because these police are not lawyers, they do not have the basic legal education and experience cum exposure to do this job effectively and efficiently. They are not professionals; it is an avenue for them to also make money. They will collect money from the defendant and collect money from you who is the complainant”.
One of the helpless inmates assisted out of prison by Headfort Chambers
Orija, who is also Chief Executive Officer of Headfort Foundation believes the plight of women and children in Nigeria’s next-door neighbour, Southern Cameroons calls for a concern. She hopes that in the future when the Foundation might have spread its tentacles across Africa, more would done to alleviate the concerns of thousands of refugees in the flogging into the country.
“As of now, we are only present in Lagos State, in the long run however, our vision is to spread our tentacles to all 36 states of Nigeria including FCT Abuja, then to other African nations. We are unfolding ourselves in stages, right now we don’t have the capacity to even extend outside of Lagos, but the irony of this is that we are having series of demands from people across the country asking for our help. I know for sure that we will be everywhere very soon when our capacity increases to meet up with our dreams.”
Watch the entire interview with Mrs. Oluyemi Orija on Timescape TV on YouTube following the video link above.