Professor Ayo Atsenuwa may not like this headline, or even this write-up about her; but that is the kind of person she is – a humble, self-effacing but strong-willed lady who will fight for a cause she believes in, using all the legal arsenal she has accumulated in over 40 years of legal studies, teaching and practice.
This newly elected Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos has made the law profession, especially teaching the Law, her life and forte, so much so that when she speaks it, you listen.
After over 30 years teaching Law at Unilag, she was recently elected by her colleagues to be the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, taking over from another Amazon and medical doctor, Professor Folashade Ogunsola, who was not just Deputy VC but was acting Vice-Chancellor during the turbulent times last year, when the substantive VC, Professor Toyin Ogundipe was sent on suspension while the crisis in the institution was being probed by a visitation panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Professor Ayodele Victoria Atsenuwa was elected Unilag’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services) via an electronic voting process during the Statutory Meeting of Senate held on Monday, March 29, 2021. She won with 81 votes (63.28% of the votes cast).
Her work experience spans research and teaching at the university level, programming for development as well as management of NGOs.
Ayo Atsenuwa is a Professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos and her teaching and research interests are wide and traverse Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Human Rights Law, Gender and the Law, Law and Religion as well as Health and Migration Law.
Within the legal academic circle, she is widely respected for her initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between legal academics and legal practice and is acknowledged for her efforts at evolving more development-oriented law degree programmes in terms of content and teaching methodologies.
Outside the university system, Professor Atsenuwa has done much to contribute to closing the gap between legal theory and practice and to the advancement of sustainable development in Africa through her leadership engagements.
A member of the Institute of Directors (IOD), she has served on the boards of several institutions and organizations, including the Legal Research and Resource Development Centre, CLEEN Foundation, Orderly Society Trust, Partnership for Justice, Girls’ Power Initiative, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Council of Legal Education of Nigeria, Lagos State Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, National Advisory Committee on APRM-NEPAD and the Nigerian Bar Association Task Force on the North-East.
She has also consulted for various international development organisations including the United Nations, European Union, UK-DFID/British Council, the United States Agency for International Development, Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.
Professor Atsenuwa is the immediate past Dean of the Faculty of Law and comes into her new office with substantial administrative and community service experience.
Ayo Atsenuwa, who became a professor in October 2011, holds an LL.M degree in Law and Development from University of Warwick and another LL.M in Criminology and Criminal Justice from University of London. She had earlier attended the University of Ife for her first degree and is a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, having been called to the bar in 1985.
As a child, she had always wanted to be a teacher; may be not teaching at the university level at that time but teaching nonetheless, but she started her teaching career at the Lagos State University in February 1988 where she spent two years. She joined the Faculty of Law of the University of Lagos in October 1990 and has been there since then.
A tough advocate of law reform for development, Professor Atsenuwa has been an adjunct Professor on the collaborative LL.M. Programme in Human Rights and Development in Africa of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa since 2012. She has also been involved with Legal Research and Resource Development Centre, a Nigerian human rights non-governmental organisation, since 1995 and served as its Executive Director for many years.
Her book: Feminist Jurisprudence: An Introduction is a seminal piece for introducing legal scholars and activists to the implications of feminist jurisprudence for developing legal philosophy and action.
On the side of law and policy development, her vast contributions are evident in the Community Service Guidelines of Lagos State, the Draft Guidelines for Bail Bondspersons and the Sentencing Guidelines, all of which she drafted and which have shaped reforms in the criminal justice sectors in Lagos State and Nigeria. She was also the Chair of the Lagos State Criminal Law Reform Committee which produced the draft of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Professor Atsenuwa brings a huge wealth of experience which will no doubt give a boost to the management process in a complex institution like UNILAG and her colleagues in Senate who elected her are confident that, working with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ogundipe and the other two Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Professors Wole Familoni, DVC Academics & Research, and Emukufia Oghojafor, DVC Management Services, the University of Lagos will set top marks for others to emulate.
Her appointment, when approved, is for two (2) years and takes effect from Monday, March 29, 2021.