On 22 November 2019, British Nigeria Law Forum celebrated its 18th Anniversary in style holding their Annual Gala Dinner & Awards at the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, London. This year eight BNLF members were celebrated during the awards and special recognition was given to Mr. George Etomi, a Nigerian based lawyer. The charity supported on the night was the Sickle Cell Society, an organisation that supports and represents people affected by sickle cell disorder.
We are grateful to our Headline sponsor the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who also sponsored the Rising Star and the Women in Leadership Awards. We are also grateful to our other sponsors: Sendwave who ran a competition for lucky winners to win a discount on monies sent to Africa using the Sendwave App; Africa Legal who also sponsored three junior lawyers to attend the dinner and Insight Legal Software who sponsored the top auction prize.
The Gala Dinner was well attended by BNLF members, friends, and associates including distinguished guests, His and Her Excellency Ambassador George Oguntade (CFR, CON) and wife; Christine Ohuruogu MBE, former Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion and Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu DBE FRCN, the first UK sickle cell and thalassemia nurse specialist and a patron of the Sickle Cell Society.
The Gala Dinner kicked off with a drink’s reception that had a buzzing atmosphere with lots of energy and anticipation for the evening. Bespoke jewellery was on display by Kelis Africa, Kenny’s photography studio was set up for guests and Madonna of Sababu films interviewed some of the guests before the event commenced. The hosts for the evening were Sam Onigbanjo and Juliana Olayinka. The dinner commenced after a welcome address from His Excellency Ambassador George Oguntade who spoke about the important role of lawyers in society. During the programme, guests were serenaded by the talented saxophonist P Star, singer Laverne Wynter and comedian Funmbi who made us laugh out loud with some relatable experiences. The menu was a fusion of British foods with a touch of Nigeria, with the serving of delicious jollof rice.
Seye Aina, BNLF Chair, delivered a keynote address she spoke about some of the highlights of the work BNLF had done in the year including: –
There was a great deal of interest from those new to BNLF in joining the membership and also several guests were interested in joining BNLF on their next visit/trade mission to Nigeria in 2020.
Prior to the Gala Dinner, eight BNLF members had been shortlisted as finalists for recognition, this followed a nomination process and selection by independent Judges. At the award ceremony the following BNLF members were recognised:
His Excellency George Oguntade CFR, CON (an Honorary member of BNLF) along with a previous BNLF Winner, Segun Osuntokun, presented Mr. George Etomi with their highest recognition an Honorary Award for distinguished service to the legal profession. An additional award was also presented to Mr. Etomi recognising George Etomi & Partners, Nigeria for their work on professional development and learning.
Special thanks goes to J Benson Solicitors; Great Business Platforms; Obaseki & Co Solicitors; Paceworking; PJE Law; Kings Court Solicitors and ASGroup Ltd who all donated gifts for the raffle draw. Insight Legal Software also sponsored a prize for auction. We thank all guests that bought raffle tickets and participated in the auction, proceeds will go towards supporting the Sickle Cell Society and BNLF special interest groups. The BNLF Annual Gala Dinner is always an enjoyable event with lots of networking and fun. This year was no different and ended with dancing into the early hours with music provided by DJ Ladi.