Report of the 8th Regional Conference of the JRCLS Africa West Chapter
This year’s regional conference was held on August 18-19 at Ikeja Lagos, Nigeria. Thirty-five people attended. It featured four guest lecturers who were invited to speak to us. Each speaker presented a unique topic which was well addressed.
Friday evening featured a mix and mingle, followed by a lecture delivered by Dr. Francis Salako, an ordained Anglican Priest from the University of Lagos, on the topic: “Religion: A Foundation that Destroys Corruption in our National Development.” He affirmed other authority’s assertions that “religion all over the world serves as a powerful, though subtle, force that has shaped the world.” In conceptualizing the subject, he opined based on the views of different authors of various disciplines concerning religion such as anthropologists, theologians, psychologists, sociologists, ethnologists, historians, and philosophers, including the legal perspective that none have been able to give a universal definition of religion. In conclusion, he submitted that the interface between religion and human endeavours cuts across all works of life and that if we do not use religion to fight corruption, it will destroy all the institutions in the land. The Friday mix and mingle concluded with refreshments.
On Saturday morning, I had the privilege to deliver a welcome address as Chapter chair of Africa West. I emphasized the need to strengthen the Chapter through pro bono services, service to our communities, and mentorship to our young lawyers and law students.
The Acting Secretary of the West African Law and Religion Society and a lecturer in the Department of Public Law, University of Lagos, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, delivered the keynote address titled: “Conflicting Judgments from the Courts – Are Lawyers Hamstrung?” She pointed to the fact that the Nigerian Constitution has never been a product of Nigerians and that the religion of a judge should not be a factor in the decision he makes.
Guest Speaker, Dr. H.O. Olaniyan, A Senior Lecturer of the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan Nigeria, spoke on the topic: “The Role of State in Upholding Religious Liberty.” Another Guest Speaker, Professor Murtala A. Bidmos from the Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Nigeria, spoke on the topic: “Religion: An Opium or An Instrument of Personal and Social Development.” In his lecture Professor Bidmos corrected the misconception of non-Muslims that Islam is a violent religion, and attributed the misconception to the many illiterates of Islam. He opined that education will correct this belief. He also debunked the notion that when a Muslim kills, he will have seven virgins in heaven.
The JRCLS International Chair, Virginia Tate Isaacson, addressed the Law Society by Skype and taught the need for members of the Law Society to always remember to carry their religious beliefs into the practice of the law as attorneys. By so doing, attorneys would influence the Law Society.
The Area Legal Counsel, Ryan Richards, was represented by Elder Craig C. Liljenquist. He educated participants on why the Office of General Counsel exists, quoting Doctrine and Covenant 44:4-5, that it was established to advise the Priesthood and other Senior Area Church Officers on legal matters and to provide general oversight.
The concluding speaker, Elder M.B. Nash, a member of the Africa West Area Presidency, also joined via Skype. He reminded us that the plan of salvation is based upon justice, law and mercy, and that mercy cannot rob justice. He reiterated the fact that men’s law can reflect God’s law through the degree that justice is compulsion, respect for human life, family, love of God, honesty, chastity preserves moral agency. He concluded by saying that no government can exist in peace except that such government uphold the rule of the land, peace, power and influence of righteous living, and that we cannot function well without integrity.
The Conference was rounded up with the presentation of certificates by Professor Allswell Muzan, followed by an elaborate conference dinner.
By Anne Chinasa Mpamah, Chapter Chair, Africa West
Posted: September 26, 2017