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(LIFE AND LIVING INTERVIEW) The real problem with Nigerian judiciary -Ifeoma Ben, lawyer, rights activist

An accomplished law professional with experience in delivering solutions and services in the legal field, Ifeoma Ben is a result-driven professional who has worked well in breaking down the barriers between the functions, momentum and delivery of business with greater efficiency and effectiveness. She holds a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Lagos, Akoka. She is also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom and a Managing Partner at The Law Suite.

A very active member of the Nigerian Bar Association in which she has served in different capacities, including coordinating sessions at the association’s Annual General Conference. Ifeoma was the assistant secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch (2019-2021) and the assistant secretary of the Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch (2017-2019). She worked assiduously in achieving the objectives of the committee in decongesting the prisons. Her passion for humanitarian services moved her to establish a Not-for-Profit Organisation – Justice Vault Foundation, which aims at offering free legal services to victims of domestic violence, inmates of correctional facilities, and less privileged members of society.

lfeoma has advised several Blockchain and Fintech companies on leg compliance and corporate governance and sits on the boards of some blockchain technology companies. As the Company Secretary of ABiT Mobile Application Ltd, she was instrumental in the listing of the company’s Token on several Blockchain Exchanges. A member of the Policy and Regulation Committee of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria, she has anchored several events on Blockchain and Digital Asset Regulation. She also advises companies in the entertainment industry and works with Record Labels in protecting and monetizing their intellectual property rights and negotiating entertainment deals.

The Nigerian Xpress spoke to her:



You organise a series of coaching sessions for startups (the micro and small entrepreneurs from different sectors of the economy) including Fintech advocacy, what do you aim to achieve in the long term?

As the Founder of the Legal Business Network, I interact with startups regularly and I feel their pain, especially when they make legal mistakes that cost them their businesses. In a bid to help them, I organize master classes and conferences to enlighten them on the legal aspects of a business. I desire to see businesses grow and flourish as they become legally compliant.


The Legal Business Conference 2022 focused on Regulating Blockchain and Fintech Innovations. Law cuts across several disciplines and, in fact, all spheres of human endeavours. Lawyers play a vital role in the Fintech and ICT Space and as such need to equip themselves with the necessary skills needed to solve legal issues that arise in Fintech transactions. As a technology lawyer, I advise several Fintech companies so I utilise every opportunity to learn more about the Fintech space to help my clients avoid legal mistakes in their business.

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As a tech and blockchain enthusiast, what advice would you give the Federal Government to enable blockchain and crypto to thrive fully in Nigeria?

Blockchain technology has several benefits such as enhanced data security, greater transparency, increased efficiency and speed, automation, etc. Regulators such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission must consider regulating blockchain technology rather than an outright ban. This was part of our recommendations at the LBC 2022.

You advise companies on corporate governance yet abuse of power/office and other forms of malfeasance still erode the system. If you could correct corporate governance failure, what will you do differently?

There are failures of systemic corporate governance which result from the failures of regulatory, market, stakeholder, and internal governance. To achieve good corporate governance, there has to be the appointment of competent board members, increased diversity on the board, board performance evaluation, risk management and external audit. Good corporate governance is one of the priorities of stakeholders and the integrity of business, accountability, and responsibility are very crucial to businesses.

What differences exist when one is an executive at the branch level and when one is operating at the national level?

The Nigerian Bar Association is an umbrella body for all lawyers called to the Nigerian Bar with 125 active branches across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. We have elections at the national and branch levels. The national executive oversees the activities of the NBA at the national level while the branch executive oversees their branch activities.

You are a member of the NBA Section on Business Law. What do all these series of sections do? What are their functions?

The NBA has three practice sections, 11 fora, and two institutes. The Section on Business Law was created to help lawyers practice in the Nigerian business environment. The Section on Legal Practice aims at assisting members to develop and improve their legal services to the public. The Section on Public Interest and Development Law was created to help lawyers in public interest litigation/advocacy and create opportunities for increased participation of lawyers in public interest litigation and law reform.

As an erstwhile Assistant Secretary of the Human Right Committee of the NBA, Lagos branch, suggest ways we can protect Human Rights and enforce them in a society like ours where human rights are flagrantly abused particularly by state actors.

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The Human Rights Committee of the NBA takes on pro bono cases and ensures that those indigent persons who do not have the resources to employ the services of lawyers, get free legal representation. Human rights lawyers, public interest litigators, and civil society organisations should always speak out and fight for justice, especially where government agencies are seen to be violating the human rights of individuals.

You worked tirelessly to decongest Nigerian correctional centres. To what effect and how can it be sustained if your idea to decongest the centres is given a nod?

Under the Human Rights Committee of the NBA, I worked with other team members in offering pro bono services to inmates of correctional centres and assisted in setting some of them free, especially those who were unjustly incarcerated. My passion for humanitarian services moved me to establish a Not-for-Profit Organisation – Justice Vault Foundation, which aims at offering free legal services to the less privileged in society.

What sets Justice Vault Foundation apart from other NGOs, seeing that people hide under the cover of NGOs to exploit and achieve self-gratification?

Justice Vault Foundation is a charity organisation. My main aim in setting it up is to give back to society and not to make money. I am the managing partner of a Law firm – The Law Suite, and that is one of the businesses where I make money. When I run my Law firm, I apply business principles but when I want to do charity through my Foundation, it is strictly charity.

How far have you gone in rescuing victims of domestic violence, the less privileged and inmates of correctional centres who deserve not to be there? How can your ideas be sustained?

The fight for justice is a continuous one. From time to time, people reach out to me on issues of domestic violence. The International Federation of Women Lawyers and the African Women Lawyers Association where I belong have done a lot in this regard. We, at the Justice Vault Foundation, have been doing pro bono matters for inmates of correctional centres and we will ensure that the objectives of setting up the Foundation are achieved.

Given the storms ravaging the Judiciary in recent times, what change would you want to see in the Judiciary if you have the resources and authority/power to effect change? What is your take on the notion that many Nigerians have lost hope in the justice system, as some don’t believe the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, given the way justice is dispensed?

The judiciary is said to be the last hope of the common man. Unfortunately, this is far from being the truth in our clime as the judiciary is bedevilled with several problems which hinder the administration of justice. The lack of independence of the judiciary remains a major issue that must be addressed before our judiciary can function effectively. If I happen to be in a position of authority that can influence positive action in the judiciary, I will ensure that there is “absolute” independence of the judiciary, with particular emphasis on financial independence. With that, the Judiciary will function effectively and efficiently as it would no longer be controlled by the executive arm of government.

If you become the CJN, What legacies would you leave behind?

The Constitution provides that a person who is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for no less than 15 years can be appointed to hold the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria or a Justice of the Supreme Court. However, the practice has been to appoint the most senior justice of the Supreme Court as the CJN. If I am opportune to be the CJN, I will champion reforms in the judiciary and promote the rule of law.

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How would you deploy your mental prowess for the betterment of Nigeria, especially in public administration and management? Do you have plans to contribute to the leadership of your country?

A lot of us are leaders at various levels in society and such leadership opportunities help to prepare us for a greater cause of service to humanity. Where the need arises, I will not hesitate to participate more actively in leadership at the government level.

What will be your contribution towards girl child education, women’s participation in politics, protection against sexual abuse and violence against women?

Through my Foundation, I currently do sensitisation about girl child education, gender-based violence, etc. I intend to do more aggressive campaigns about all this in the future. I am an advocate that women can do well in leadership positions and politics so I encourage women to take the bull by the horn.

You wrote three books, just to know the feedback you have received after launch/publication, seeing that a greater number of young people in Nigeria don’t read again, the reasons are obvious. Do you still intend to write again?

My three books (Legal Business Blueprint; Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Must Avoid; Startup Toolkit) all relate to Law and Business because of my passion for Business Law. These books have helped a lot of business owners build legally protected businesses. All my books are eBooks and can be purchased on my website and which makes it easy for people to read them anywhere and anytime. I hope to write more books in the future.

What do you want to be remembered for as a lawyer?

There are certain areas of law practice that interest me and I have a bias toward corporate commercial law. I want to be remembered as a renowned international commercial lawyer who has made a mark in the legal profession in Nigeria and beyond.