Rebecca Oyindamola Olomojobi
Rebecca Oyindamola Olomojobi is a housewife, mother, and Federal High Court judge in Nigeria. She is married to Professor Zac Olomojobi, provost of the School of Law and Security Studies at Babcock University in Nigeria. They are blessed with four children—three boys and a girl—and she is a second-generation Seventh-day Adventist, born into the family of an Adventist pastor. Justice Olomojobi’s tertiary education took her to the University of London, where in 1972 she completed a bachelor of laws honors degree. On returning to Nigeria, she attended the Nigeria Law School and graduated with a new bachelor degree (in practical practice). After serving as a state counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice, which required her to appear in various courts up to the Supreme Court, she rose to the post of legal adviser in the Federal Ministry of Justice and later joined the Federal High Court of Nigeria as chief registrar, overseeing the administration of the court throughout the federation. Subsequently, Justice Olomojobi was appointed a judge of the same court.
Even as she continued her professional service, Justice Olomojobi remained an active church member, serving the local church in various capacities: Sabbath school superintendent, children’s Sabbath school teacher, Women’s Ministry leader, Master Guide, patron of Adventist Youth Ministry, and a sought-out speaker and prayer ministry leader. She takes active part in national Women’s Ministry conventions. Her involvement in ministering to women includes giving free legal advice to women on various issues. She is a member of the Nigeria Association of Adventist Lawyers and has presented professional papers before that body.
Justice Olomojobi, who motivated you to study law?
My sister and my husband were instrumental in my studying law. After my mother died when I was 12, my sister took care of me and became my mentor and role model. She is a trained teacher, and I decided that I would be like her and take to teaching. After my husband left for the United Kingdom, I left Nigeria to join him. Upon completion of the first degree in law, he continued to work on a master’s degree. I had just entered the bachelor’s program in education, when my husband persuaded me to change course. I enrolled in law.
Was being an Adventist an advantage to your career in any way?
If not in my career, certainly in being a witness at my workplace. My career started as a state counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Nigeria. My co-workers knew that I was a Seventh-day Sabbath keeper. Some of them asked questions about my faith, opening doors to sharing my faith through many avenues.
You are a second-generation Adventist and a professional. Are you active in the church?
Yes, very much so. The church had a formative role from my childhood up. I remember fondly the time when I was a Junior Missionary Volunteer. I enjoyed those progressive classes and rose through the rank of achieving the Master Guide pin. I still participate in youth programs, and am convinced that Adventist Youth Ministry, if properly executed at the local church, can have a tremendous influence on young people in their difficult years of growing up. At present, I am the matron of the youth organization in my local church, which involves working closely with young people, making myself available for counseling, giving encouragement and support to young people as and when necessary. I have also served the Sabbath school in many ways, and am an active member of the church choir. I enjoy my work with the Adventist Women’s Ministry in Nigeria, and this involves presenting motivational talks and papers in my local church and in national and international conferences of Adventist women. Whatever one does, the central point is to be involved in the church—be it a Revelation seminar or children’s Sabbath school. That’s what defines one’s role as an Adventist.
Do you think it is easier for younger Adventist lawyers to succeed now than it was for you during your early years in the profession?
Not really, but perhaps there are more opportunities, especially for women. Success in any field depends so much on one’s determination, self-denial, and trust in God. If one invites God to take command of everything one does, that person will have the guidance and assurance of the Holy Spirit.
What are some challenges that you as an Adventist faced in practicing law?
During my early years—between 1973 and 1975—when I was a state counsel I was expected to attend work on Saturdays. That was quite trying, but I prayed and worked hard with my immediate supervisors, and God opened a way. I was given permission to make up for Sabbath work on Sundays. I give glory to God, who made this possible, and for the government’s subsequent change to longer working hours each day so the weekends can be free.
Do you as a practicing Adventist ever have to face the dilemma of defending a self-confessed criminal client, which will give you professional prominence?
Our God is a God of justice, who has given us rules and laws to guide our conduct. Both the laws of God and the secular laws are to be obeyed. A practicing lawyer has a duty to represent his or her client once he or she accepts the brief, even in respect to a self-confessed criminal. A judge also has a duty to uphold the law and do justice without fear or favor. Any practicing Adventist legal professional has a duty to see that justice is not only done, but it must also be seen to be done. The question of professional prominence does not arise.
How have you coped with some frustrations of your profession?
I will not say that I have any frustration in my profession; but rather I, have challenges. There have been the challenges of being a mother, a wife, and a Federal High Court judge who had to sit in court for long hours and write judgments late into the night. Under these circumstances I planned my daily routine so that none of them would suffer. I pray a lot and meditate on God’s words, committing my family and my work to God’s hands. And He has been sustaining me.
How do you cope with the pressures of a career and family life?
Fortunately, I have a very supportive family. My husband has always been very understanding, and, being a lawyer himself, he knows the pressures of the job. Our children also cooperated well and did their share of chores around the house. Now they are grown and have their own careers.
Would you advise Adventist lawyers to go into politics? How do you think they can make a unique difference in terms of good governance and transparency?
I do not see anything wrong in young Adventists going into politics. My advice would be: “Don’t compromise your faith, and don’t fail to uphold your faith. Whatever the profession you choose, there is no substitute for transparency, fear of God, honesty and dedication. Let your colleagues see Jesus in what you do. Reflect His character in all your endeavors. Make a difference where you are, and allow God to use you for His glory.”
As a successful and highly-respected legal professional, what advice do you have for young Adventist legal practitioners of today?
I’d say, keep focused. Put God first in everything you do. The world is not your model, but God is. Leave an example for others to follow. Keep service your paramount motive.
Interviewed by Olubunmi A. Idowu (Ph.D., University of Ibadan, Nigeria), who teaches in the Languages and Literary Studies Department at Babcock University, Nigeria. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justice Rebecca Oyindamola Olomojobi can be contacted at email@example.com.