It was an emotional moment couple of weeks ago as female lawyers from all walks of life bid farewell to one of their own. Writes AMEH EJEKWONYILO
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mrs. Victoria Awomolo, while delivering a tribute to a deceased member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Abuja Chapter, Damilola Bolajoko Awesu, wept intermittently at the Federal Ministry of Justice Auditorium in Abuja.
“You exhibited the finest qualities of honesty, hard work, discipline, transparency, integrity, respect and humility. You were ready to work under any condition; most times sacrificing your personal comfort for the common good,” Awomolo said, breaking down in tears.
Recalling her personal encounter with the late lawyer whom she fondly called “Dami”, Awomolo revealed: “No committee was complete without you and you never complained! This was why you became the pillar of the annual Awomolo & Associates Quoloquium.
“I remember vividly in 2016 when Amina Agbaje had travelled to the USA, you came personally to chambers to collect all registration materials, prepared the users, only to be absent on the day, unknown to us that you were admitted to the hospital on the eve of the programme. You knew you were going to the hospital yet you did all the preparations and put everything in order before you went for treatment. Such was your sense of responsibility and dedication to duty,” the grief-stricken Awomolo said in her final lines.
Damilola died on November 14, 2018, after a brief illness at the age of 45.
Awomolo who is also a leader of the FIDA International Africa, wondered how the association would plan and execute its next congress without Dami’s rich ideas.
She also paid glowing tribute to Damilola’s relationship with God, saying, ” You were a true believer of the Christian faith and a faithful Christian till the end. You were so diligent that nothing would come between you and eternity.
“Asiwaju and all of us in chambers will miss you dearly,” Awomolo ended her tribute.
It was the turn of Hauwa Shekarau, whom the late Damilola cut her teeth in the practice of law at her chambers as a corps member in Abuja.
Shekarau said the news of Damilola’s demise came to her a rude shock.
“Damilola started her law practice in my law firm. From day one that she joined the law firm, she exhibited diligence, commitment, hard work and a clear readiness and willingness to learn,” Shakarau said.
She extolled Damilola’s unwavering commitment to FIDA’s cause. “Damilola’s membership of FIDA was total. She gave her time, her skills and resources to FIDA’s cause. No matter how tight her schedules were, she never shied away from any responsibility given to her.
“She was always very reliable. Indeed, the story of FIDA Nigeria @50 can never be complete without a mention of Damilola’s role as the secretary of the Planning Committee. Damilola’s demise is, therefore, a huge loss to FIDA as an organisation. Her demise is also a personal loss to me as I have always been very proud and pleased to refer to her as one of my mentees whom I have had the privilege to mentor at the beginning of her law career,” Shekarau said as she choked back tears.
The night of tributes for Damilola as organised by FIDA was a tearful moment for for all lawyers who knew the deceased to laud what they described as Damilola’s “total commitment to the cause of humanity” through her interactions with people whose paths crossed her’s.
Another human rights lawyer based in Abuja, Esther Uzoma who sat in the packed auditorium, venue for the night of tributes, wept throughout the duration of the event.
For Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko, the late Damilola was a “selfless and dependable sister.”
She described the deceased as a “reliable institutional memory bank” for FIDA. “Always paying that special attention to cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s regardless who took the credit, Chioma said.
In her eulogy, Ngozi Ikenga, recalled Damilola’s last encounter with her the very week of her death.
She said Damilola was to attend FIDA’s general meeting of November 14, but when asked if she was going to be at the meeting, she responded, “I will not make it.”
According to Ikenga, a few hours to the meeting, Damilola breathed her last. “What a smart way of saying goodbye. You were a very dependable ally that cannot be forgotten.”
The female lawyers and other dignitaries at the event were unanimous in their tributes to the late Damilola for her deep commitment to the cause of humanity.
“Bolajoko, you were my baby, we planned and executed FIDA, family, public, private and many things together. Now, like the Tilapia fish, one of my backbones is broken,” Amina Agbaje held back tears during her emotional eulogy for Damilola.
In eulogising the deceased lawyer, Agbaje said: “You were consistent and committed to God and FIDA. I have cried because I am human, but I have further chosen to celebrate your life and times, because you lived a purposeful life.”
In a condolence letter from Awomolo & Associates signed by its head Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) to the Chairperson, FIDA Abuja, the law firm described Damilola as “exemplary in moral and character.
“She was perfect in the organisation and management of events. She settled for nothing short of excellence and that was noted in her contributions to our chambers activities like the lecture and colloquium activities…”
The letter urged the deceased’s family and others who knew Damilola to celebrate her for being good during her sojourn on earth, adding, “The memory of her good works will linger in our minds for a very long time,” the letter read.
Damilola was buried amid tears on November 23 in Abuja.