When she applied for the position of Deputy Chief Justice in 2013, few had heard of Prof Phoebe Okowa. Media reports at the time mostly referred to her as a “foreign-based lawyer”.
She was one of the five shortlisted candidates for the job. Justice Kalpana Rawal emerged victorious though.
Despite that setback, Prof Okowa would later join the Kenyan legal team that was defending the country’s territorial integrity against Somalia’s claims at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
On Friday, however, Prof Okowa hit a new high, after her election to the International Law Commission (ILC), a subsidiary organ of the United Nations.
Out of the 14 candidates for the nine positions available to Africans, she got the third-highest number of votes at 162, three fewer than Alioune Sall of Senegal who got the second-highest number of votes and seven less than Charles Jalloh of Sierra Leone.
Of the 14 African candidates, she was the only female. And so with her election, she becomes the first African woman to be elected to the commission. Former Attorney-General Amos Wako served in the commission after he left the position.
Prof Okowa had been nominated by the Kenya government and had the firm backing of the UK. She is a professor of Public International Law and Director of Graduate Studies at the Queen Mary University of London.
News of Prof Okowa’s election was well-received. Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chief executive officer Mercy Wambua termed it a great milestone for the country and the region.
According to Ms Wambua, her election has set the pace for women aspiring for leadership positions and success.
“The election of Prof Phoebe Okowa is not just important especially to women who aspire for leadership positions in Kenya, Africa and beyond, but also speaks to the quality of lawyers we have in the country and those that Kenya has produced. As the Law Society of Kenya, we congratulate her and could not have been more proud of her and her achievements,” said Ms Wambua.
“Congratulations @Phoebe_Okowa on your election to the International Law Commission! As an eminent scholar and practitioner, and as the first African woman elected to the ILC, your brilliance will illuminate that body,” Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Martin Kimani tweeted.
Reacting to her election, Prof Okowa thanked the UN member states for electing her to serve in the commission for the term starting 2023 to 2027.
“Throughout the campaign experience, I have remained conscious that the ILC is a subsidiary organ of the UN that is at its most effective working in collaboration with the sixth committee. I look forward to working with the other members of the commission and those on the Sixth Committee as the commission continues its vital work in responding to the defining challenges of our generation,” she said in a statement.
Her election does not come as a surprise. Her CV is impressive. She graduated at the top of her 1987 class at the University of Nairobi in her undergraduate studies. By so doing, she was also the first woman to be awarded a First-Class Honours degree in the history of the Faculty of Law.
According to her CV, the late Dr Bonaya Godana, Kenya’s one-time foreign affairs minister, who introduced her to international law.
She then proceeded to the University of Oxford on a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholarship, obtaining the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) degree in 1990. Subsequently, she completed a doctoral thesis (DPhil) at Oxford in the field of Public International Law.
“Her monograph on State Responsibility for Transboundary Air Pollution published by Oxford University Press remains the definitive work on the legal challenges that environmental harm presents for traditional methods of accountability in International Law,” her profile on Queen Mary University of London portal reads.
In 2020, she was one of the recipients of the 8th C.B. Madan Prize awarded to post-doctoral legal scholars of the University of Nairobi’s School of Law for their “commitment and outstanding scholarly contribution to constitutionalism and the rule of law in Kenya.”
She is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and in 2017, she was nominated by the Government of Kenya to the Permanent Court of Arbitration where she is currently a permanent member.
AICC: Egyptian Grandmasters Dominate Tourney
With just two rounds left to play, top Nigerian chess players have dropped out in the ranking at the on-going African Individual Chess Championship holding at the Orchid Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.
Although Nigerian players showed shade of genius in the battle field as the tournament reached its climax on Sunday night, the Egyptian who are higher rated players dominate play with Adly Ahmed (African number 2) and Woman Grandmaster Wafa Shahenda leading the pack of other players in both Open and Women sections.
Both have consolidated their lead in the competition, as every win counts to games 4 and 5.
WGM Wafa trounced her Angolan opponent, Woman International Master Esperanca Caxita, in a Sicilian opening with black mostly dominating the game right from the middle play.
The Egyptian WGM is all but a massive one point ahead of the pack leading into the final rounds starting this morning.
While the Egyptian masters are dominating play, credit also goes to some Nigerians raising their heads to be counted. Nigeria Youth Games product, Onoja Iyefu Joy continues to show resilience and determination to earn her first chess title and create a record while at it.
She had on Saturday continued her fine run of form by scoring an entire point against Paulo Jemima to register the second position on the ranking table with 9 points. A win in the 7th round will help Joy secure a Woman International Master Title.
WIM (elect) Ofowino Toritsemuwa bettered her AICC Tunisia 2019 record, and she is bound to create a new one as she takes on WGM Wafa in the seventh round.
Toritsemuwa currently shares second place with her compatriot, Iyefu Onoja, both holding 4.5 points, hence making the 7th game point as crucial for the player.
In the Open section, 20-year-old Eyetonghan Denyefa Callistus is pulling his weight. He scored an outstanding 4.5 points after six games, but it is not about the score, somewhat the opponents; defeating 1 GM, 2 IMs, and three draws against two IMs and FM, the youngster will get his chance at GM Adly in the seventh round.
With a half point behind the tournament leader, African Number 1–GM AminBassem landed his second consecutive win after the drawn game with compatriot GM Ahmed Adly, demonstrating he still stands a chance to catch up and maybe win the tournament.
Bassem faces IM David Silva of Angola in the seventh round, who had to offer a draw to his opponent in the sixth round due to health issues. We hope he’s gotten his strength back for this crucial game.
The tournament ends tomorrow with Maltina and Gulder are among the top sponsor of the event.
Don’t vote for ‘killers’ in 2023 elections – ex-President Jonathan urges Nigerian youths
A former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has urged Nigerians not to elect “killers” in the 2023 general elections.
Mr Johnathan stated this on Sunday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State during a thanksgiving service to mark the 35th anniversary of the state.
Mr Johnathn and his wife, Patience, were the special guests of honour at the service which was also attended by the governor of his home state — Bayelsa — Douye Diri.
“In 2023, you must not make the mistake to vote killers. Those who carry knives, guns, and all kinds of gadgets to go and kill people because of politics, are the enemies of society.
“If you kill to become a leader, you will continue to kill to remain a leader and the people will continue to suffer.”
The former president said he has monitored the growth of Akwa Ibom, adding that he has been visiting the state at least once a year since he joined the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, now Niger Delta Development Commission, in 1994 as an assistant director.
While thanking the youth of the state for not vandalising infrastructure, the former president recalled how some people sabotaged his development efforts in the power sector by using arc saws to fell towers because they wanted Nigeria to remain in darkness.
Mr Johnathan said the election of the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, should teach politicians a good lesson, especially those who doubted Mr Emmanuel’s ability to manage “human beings”.
Governor Emmanuel was an executive director at Zenith Bank before he was appointed Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government, a position he later resigned from to vie for the governorship of the state which he won in 2015.
Akwa Ibom is ‘strong national story’ – Gov Emmanuel
Earlier in his speech, Mr Emmanuel thanked the people of the state for their support and described this year’s state anniversary as his last as the state governor.
The governor said Akwa Ibom has become a state with a “strong national story and a sparkling destination of choice for Nigerians and others around the world”.
He appreciated the people for the choice of “Moving Forward,” as the theme of the celebrations but also reminded them that in “moving forward we have to also look back.”
He referenced Joseph, a Biblical figure who later became the Prime Minister of Egypt and added that the children of Israel suffered because of Joseph’s mistake.
“Joseph made a mistake in Egypt when he was about to go, he did not look at the issue of who succeeded him and that is why the children of Israel suffered.
“If you are a God-sent man you must also learn. I’ve learnt from what Joseph did and today we went back to God and I want to appreciate all Akwa Ibomites because a man after God’s heart will come after another man after God’s heart,” Mr Emmanuel said.
He promised to complete before leaving office next year, the international worship centre that his administration is building in the state.
Knocks, Kudos as Peter Obi promises 100m poor Nigerians ‘access to free medical care’
Mixed reactions have trailed the promise by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, stating that his administration will prioritise the welfare of the poor Nigerians if elected.
“If elected the next president of Nigeria, youths would be the main proponents of my main agenda to transform Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation. The two main components of this agenda are human capital development and finance.”
Obi further said health and education are vital to the development of the country, promising to ensure “at least 100 million poor Nigerians have access to free medical care”.
“Given the role of health in reinforcing education in the measure of productivity, my leadership will pay serious attention to the health system by ensuring that at least 100 million poor Nigerians have access to free medical services through an integrated health insurance scheme.”
Obi’s promise which has gone viral, generated divergent reactions on social media platforms.
While some supporters of Obi believed the promise made by their candidate is possible, they argued in support that the country is buoyant enough to take care of citizens’ medical care.
ASUU: Seven months after, FG orders VC’s to reopen schools
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike for about seven months now.
The association is demanding from FG the funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
Recall that the federal government went to court to challenge the action of the association. Last week the national industrial court through Polycarp Hamman, the judge in the NIC, granted the federal government’s application for an interlocutory injunction to restrain ASUU from continuing with the strike.
The outcome of the judgement was questioned by Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who stated that the national industrial court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the case between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
However, tired of the lingering strike the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission ordered vice-chancellors to re-open schools and allow students resume lectures.
In a letter disclosed to journalists on Monday, signed by the Director, Finance and Accounts of the NUC, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, FG instructed all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities to re-open schools.
“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, part of the letter read.
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