– Charges lawyers to use law as “a glue that holds the society together”
By Afolabi Ibikunle.
A Nigerian human rights lawyer, Mr. Adeola Austin Oyinlade, has been declared winner of the International Bar Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights for 2018. The prestigious award was presented to him at this year’s IBA Conference in Rome, Italy. Mr. Oyinlade emerged winner ahead of other finalists from many countries across the world.
Each year, the International Bar Association (IBA) presents the award to an outstanding lawyer in the world of human rights law. The IBA has a membership of over more than 80,000 individual lawyers and 195 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents across the world.
Mr. Oyinlade distinguished himself through his courageous stand for human rights and his pro-bono legal services to the poor in Nigeria. As a lawyer advocating equitable, just and fair society over the years, he has taken his human rights empowerment further by simplifying human rights laws and safeguards to the understanding of ordinary people on the street in English and major local languages including Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba spoken by over 100 million people in Nigeria.
The IBA award winner pioneered human rights empowerment via mobile technology when he created ‘Know Your Rights Nigeria’ app for millions of android, iPhone and web users in Nigeria. The app and the web version of his work simplify all human rights laws in force with safeguards in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages alongside platforms where users engage him and his team of over 50 lawyers daily for free legal support on human rights issues.
The lawyer and UN Peace Ambassador also created platforms on the app where users report abuse anonymously, get safeguards on what steps to take in the face of assaults, and get connected to security forces for help, thereby pioneering the first ever human rights empowerment innovation with mere push of buttons in the palms in English and major local languages in the era of mobile technological advancement.
Since the human right lawyer unveiled the app and web version for human rights empowerment, it has proved very effective for its free access, speedy dissemination of human rights information and free legal advisory with over 200 thousand people as beneficiaries. The rights empowerment app in major local languages has made a real difference for the situation of the defenseless and ordinary people on the street in Nigeria.
Earlier this year at the U.S Consulate in Lagos, the U.S Consul General John Bray has commended and “acknowledge Mr. Adeola Oyinlade and the work he has done to strengthen respect and support for the protection of human rights in Nigeria’.
While asserting that the US Government have turned to Mr. Oyinlade for his insights on the status of human rights in Nigeria, the Consul-General sees his work in Nigeria very key as according to him, Nigeria is ‘one of the most important countries on the continent, given its large population, thriving commercial enterprises, and strategic geopolitical location Nigeria is critical to Africa’s prosperity and stability”.
At the continental level, through advocacy, the Nigerian human rights and international law expert has also proffered solutions to human rights issues in Africa including the South Sudan Political Crisis, the Central African Republic Crisis, the Congo Democratic Republic Armed conflict, and the Libyan peace talks among others with relative impact.
He worked as a resource person to the African Union Commission on the implementation of African Youth Charters and delivered papers on how AU member states can reform local laws for the implementation of the charter.
At the presentation of the award at Roma Convention Center La Nuvola, the conference venue on Friday 12 October, 2018, the IBA stated the prestigious Award is for outstanding contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights in which Mr. Oyinlade came top among lawyers across the world.
The IBA Human Rights Award honoree, while giving his remark, thanked the Global lawyers’ body for the award and said such recognition is a charge to do more. “Recognition of this magnitude brings more responsibilities. Since the task that follows such responsibilities will give birth to deliverables and outcomes that will shape the world for better, I am happier and fully ready to carry on”, Oyinlade said.
According to the IBA Human Rights honouree, “As it appears to me, we are not short of preachers against human rights abuse or short of preaching against serial violations of human rights. We are only short of compliance with the rule of law. As the world is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we all have more work to do to make the world fair and just.
“The world is looking up to us (lawyers) to consistently use our legal expertise as a tool of social engineering and problem-solving. I believe and hope that we shall continue to apply our knowledge of law as a glue that holds the society together”, he said, while calling on lawyers to take the leading role in expanding the frontiers of human rights.
Mr. Oyinlade is the first Nigerian lawyer to have won the IBA award for outstanding contribution by a legal practitioner to human rights and the second from the continent of Africa after George Bizos from South Africa who was recommended by many personalities including Nelson Mandela.