AS the world prepared for the 2018 Yuletide, a young Nigerian was receiving an award in Italy for selfless service to mankind.
Austin Adeola Oyinlade became the first Nigerian and second person in Africa to win the International Bar Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights.
The only other winner from Africa is George Bizos from South Africa.
Each year, IBA presents the award to an outstanding lawyer in the field of human rights law. The award was presented to the young lawyer at the 2018 IBA Conference at the Roma Convention Center La Nuvola in Rome, Italy.
The International Bar Association has a membership of over 80,000 lawyers and 195 bar associations and law societies across all continents of the world, and Oyinlade was singled out and honoured for his courageous stand for human rights and his pro-bono legal services to the poor in Nigeria.
As part of his efforts to advocate equitable, just and fair society over the years, Oyinlade simplified human rights laws and safeguards for ordinary people on the street in English and major Nigerian languages, including Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
He pioneered human rights empowerment through via mobile technology by creating ‘Know Your Rights Nigeria’ app for millions of android, iPhone and web users in Nigeria.
Through the app and its web version, he is able to simplify all existing human rights laws in English and major Nigerian languages, and help people on platforms where users engage him and his team of over 50 lawyers daily for free legal support on human rights issues.
There are also platforms on the app where users can report rights abuses anonymously, get legal advice on what steps to take in the face of assaults, and get connected to security forces for help.
Since the app was unveiled with its web version, it is said to have facilitated speedy dissemination of human rights information and free legal advisory to over 200,000 people.
The gesture received the attention of the U.S Consulate in Lagos, as the Consul-General, John Bray, last year commended “Mr. Adeola Oyinlade and the work he has done to strengthen respect and support for the protection of human rights in Nigeria.”
Mr Bray acknowledged Oyinlade’s work as key, noting that (Nigeria) being “one of the most important countries on the continent given its large population, thriving commercial enterprises and strategic geopolitical location, Nigeria is critical to Africa’s prosperity and stability.”
In his acceptance speech, Oyinlade said the recognition would spur him to do more.
“Recognition of this magnitude brings more responsibilities. Since the task that follows such responsibilities will give birth to deliverables and outcomes that will shape the world for better, I am happier and fully ready to carry on.
“As it appears to me, we are not short of preachers against human rights abuse or short of preaching against serial violations of human rights. We are only short of compliance with the rule of law.
“As the world is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we all have more work to do to make the world fair and just.
“The world is looking up to us (lawyers) to consistently use our legal expertise as a tool of social engineering and problem-solving. I believe and hope that we shall continue to apply our knowledge of law as glue that holds the society together,” he said.
Mr Oyinlade has worked as a resource person to the African Union Commission on the implementation of African Youth Charters, and delivered papers on how AU member states can reform local laws for the implementation of the charter.
He has also helped proffer solutions to human rights issues in several African countries, including the South Sudan political crisis, the Central African Republic crisis, the Congo Democratic Republic armed conflict, and the Libyan peace talks, among others.