“I WILL PUSH FOR ADOPTION OF AN NBA SEXUAL HARRASMENT POLICY”- AKPATA LAYS OUT TIME-SPECIFIC PLANS ON DEALING WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS NBA PRESIDENT
Frontline Presidential candidate in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national elections which is only two days away, has once again written to Nigerian lawyers everywhere, assuring them of his plans to address the recurring issue of sexual harassment in the Nigerian legal profession, as well as other issues around working conditions of lawyers, especially young lawyers who cannot speak out for themselves. His letter is reproduced below:
“I trust that your weekend has been restful.
As you prepare to begin a new week, I thought to write you with assurances that the NBA under my leadership will do everything reasonably possible to improve the working conditions of lawyers. In that respect, we will also pay particular attention to issues of sexual harassment and similar conducts.
Like I had stated in my manifesto, the scourge of sexual harassment of lawyers by fellow lawyers is on the increase and appropriate steps need to be taken to address this decisively. We must not pay lip service to this issue, which is why under my leadership, the NBA will take bold and overt steps to address this menace.
Specifically, should I, with your support, become the NBA President, I pledge to:
- By November 2020, push for the NBA to have a sexual harassment policy that every lawyer and law firm must adhere to. Adoption of the policy would be a sine qua non for enjoying certain benefits and privileges bestowed or conferred by the NBA on its members.
- Work towards escalating proven cases of sexual harassment by a lawyer against another lawyer to the status of a professional misconduct. This would have a significant deterrent effect.
- Establish a distinct complaint mechanism for sexual assault within the NBA by November 2020, that is both confidential and effective. This mechanism will be linked to our proposed whistleblowing system to allow for confidentiality and effectiveness. Once a complaint is received, the sexual harassment claim will be investigated discreetly with the full support of the relevant NBA Branch and where necessary, the Presidency. If harassment is established, then the harasser will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary measures.
- Collaborate with both the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria and the NBA Women Forum to manage the complaints mechanism above.
- Provide career support to the victim and, to the extent possible, assist the victim with the process of securing another employment. This is necessary, considering that it would be difficult for the victim to continue to work in the same environment after the investigations.
- Achieving these plans will require strong political will and commitment, which I possess and would deploy unreservedly towards addressing this issue. You can hold me to account on this promise.
Please check out my full manifesto here: https://www.olumideakpata.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/NBA-Elections-2020-Manifesto-of-Olumide-Akpata.pdf – a detailed blueprint of how I intend to make the Bar Work for All.
Accept the assurances of my best regards and continue to have a pleasant week.