Justice Olaide Ajoke Olayinka of the Lands Division, High Court of Lagos State will bow out of service on February 10, 2020, having reached the retirement age of 65.
Born to late Mr Olawale Folarin and Mrs Jemilat Folarin in the United Kingdom on the 10th day of February 1955, Laide as she was popularly called by friends attended Girls’ Secondary Grammar school, Bariga, now known as Eva Adelaja School where I obtained my West African Higher Level School Certificate in 1973. She also attended Baptist Academy, Ikorodu Road, Lagos where she obtained her Higher School Certificate in 1975.
She proceeded to studied law at the University of Lagos where I obtained my LLB (Hons) in 1979. Thereafter went to the Nigerian law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in the year 1980.
Justice Olayinka started her career in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice serving first as a member of the National Youth Service Corp in the Directorate of Public prosecutions (DPP) (1980-1981).
She was thereafter appointed as a substantive State Counsel in the Ministry on July 14, 1981 and retained in DPP where she undertook criminal prosecutions and rendered Advisory services. In 1984, she was promoted to the post of Senior State Counsel and after being in the Directorate for about 6 years, in 1986 she was posted to the Directorate of Civil Litigation and advisory matters. Justice Olayinka was promoted to Principal State Counsel in 1986, and was in the Department of Civil Litigation and held that position for about 7 years till 1990.
She said: “In this period, I handled mainly land matters and Election petitions. The period served as the foundation years for introduction to the various features of Civil Litigation;
I got my early experience in election petitions as resident Counsel to the National Electoral Commission handling petitions on behalf of the Commission at the Local Government Election Tribunal in Lagos Island and in the Epe/Ibeju Lekki Division. The Election Tribunal gave me the opportunity as the representatives of the Attorney –General, to appear against senior and top counsel;
This opportunity came with the responsibility to work hard and always study my files ahead of a case, to ensure that I am prepared before appearances in Court”.
In 1996, Justice Olayinka had been promoted to an Assistant Director/ which was subsequently merged with a newly created level of Deputy Director in 1997. She was posted to the Directorate of Commercial Law, and It was in this department that she became exposed to commercial practice. The promotion came with the responsibilities of office , from which she gained a rich and robust experience.
In 1999 while still a Deputy Director, the then Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN (now Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria), seeing her sterling qualities appointed as his Special Assistant.
Justice Olayinka said of her experience: “My scope of duties included assisting the HAG & CJ as the Chief Law Officer of the State, in the general execution of diverse duties of the office. The focus at the time was the Reforms in Administration of Justice system and the Mission was Access to Justice by all, specifically the vulnerable. It was a privilege for me to be part of the team that facilitated the said reforms;
During this time, as a result of Legal Services offered by the Ministry of Justice there was increased interface between other ministries. At this time, due to timely advise, most of the Agencies of Government had become more disposed to follow due diligence and learnt to adhere to the rule of law. By this time I could say that I had job satisfaction in my career, notwithstanding that the salary was nothing to write home about;
By the year 2000 when the opportunity to be nominated as a prospective candidate for elevation to the Bench presented itself, I was so sure I still had more to offer as a Law Officer and was not ready for an early entry into the judiciary”.
She became a Director in 2001 and continued to double as the Special Assistant to the Attorney General. “As the Director of the Commercial Law Directorate, and the exposure to Private Sector Partnership transactions with State on Lagos State deepened my experience in Negotiations of both Local and international Transactions”, she said.
Justice Olayinka served as the Solicitor-General for Lagos State and Permanent Secretary for Lagos State Ministry of Justice from April 31, 2006 to March 17, 2016.
She said: “My schedule of responsibilities included overseeing the law officers in the discharge of their functions as counsel to both Government and the Citizens of Lagos State, administration and other non legal professionals. Overseeing in addition complementary professionals posted to the Ministry of Justice for smooth running of the Ministry;
As an Accounting Officer, I was also responsible for ensuring checks and balances in the execution of Approved Policies and in the administration of what could easily be termed the largest and most virile chambers in Lagos State”.
On March 18, 2008, Justice Olayinka was sworn in as a judge of the High Court in the Lagos State Judiciary, by the then Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola S.A.N along with five other judges. I took my place at the time, as the 44th judge in the hierarchy of the judiciary. of Lagos State.
She served in various divisions of the court such as the General Civil Division, Family and Probate, and Lands Divisions. She also served as the presiding judge of the Ikorodu division.
Justice Olayinka will retire on Fenruary 10, 2020 having reached the mandatory age of 65.
She said of her retirement: “I take a bow as the 27th Judge in the hierarchy of Judges in the Lagos State judiciary this 10th day of February 2010, after serving for 11years 10 Months and 23 days in office in compliance with statute”
Watch out for our special focus: “My road to the bench: The story of Justice Olaide Olayinka” on February 10, 2020 only in Gavel International. It is compelling!