Maryam Uwais


Senior Partner

Maryam is a founding Partner of Primera Africa Legal. She is an experienced socio-economic rights activist, commercial lawyer and arbitrator with a broad practice that spans over 40 years. Her area of expertise includes Banking & Insurance Law, Islamic Banking, Mergers & Acquisition, Capital Market Operations, Human & Socio-Economic Rights, Justice Sector Reform, Legislative Drafting, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Maryam advises a diverse array of clients ranging from internationally renowned companies/establishments to various Governments and Agencies, on a full range of commercial transactions and social sector processes, structures and strategies. Maryam is also actively involved in public action suits which challenges the ills in the society. She has also worked extensively with global development aid agencies, having worked as a legal consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, the UNODC, UNDP, USAID and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

In addition to her role as a Partner in Primera Africa Legal, she is actively involved in promoting human rights issues with emphasis on social and cultural rights, child rights, women rights and empowerment. In 2009, she founded Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, an NGO that empowers women and children in Kano.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the International Women’s Society (Nov, 2011).
  • Awarded with the National Honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by President Goodluck Ebele Johanthan, GCFR (Dec, 2011).
  • Recipient of the Thisday Awards given to women who have distinguished themselves in the service of Nigeria (Feb, 2012).
  • The Outstanding Leadership Award for contributions to equity, justice and human rights in Nigeria, by the Business and Professional Women in Nigeria Association (Nov, 2012).
  • An award by The Nigerian Human Rights Community in appreciation of contributions as Member of The African Union Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Dec, 2013).
  • Selected as one of the five McNulty Prize Laureates at the Aspen Institute, Colorado, following the activities of the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (Nov, 2014).
  • Selected as a National Human Rights Commission Awardee for ‘Outstanding Contributions in the Advancement of the Rights of Women and Children in Nigeria’ (Dec, 2015).
  • Awarded the ‘Outstanding Public Social Intrapreneur’, by the Schwab Foundation, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum (Sept, 2019).
  • Awarded with the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR (May, 2023).


  • Prepared the Working Paper on Justice Sector Reform, circulated to Stakeholders nation-wide, (for support and responses) as the initiative of the civil society and the NBA, Sept 2001
  • Participated in the formulation of a Handbook, ‘Knowing our Rights; Women, Family, Laws & Customs in the Muslim World,’ essentially a comprehensive analysis and overview of 26 topics pertaining to marriage, divorce and the status of children, in over 20 Muslim majority countries and communities across the world; Sept 2002
  • Supervised the preparation of a handbook on the CRC and CEDAW, for the utilization of law enforcement agencies, and in particular the training of police and prison officers on how to treat children and women in their custody, which effort was supported by UNICEF.
  • Prepared and published an infographic as a tool to be utilized against child marriage, July 2015.
  • Contributed a chapter on interfaith dialogue in a Konrad-Adaneur Stiftung publication, ‘We have Justice in Common’, 2010, Konrad-Adnaeur Stiftung e.V., Sankt Augustin/Berlin
  • Supervised and finalized a Safeguard Policy and Training Manual for Out-of-School children, which content comprises of safeguard measures, basic literacy and numeracy skills, agricultural skills, and basic technology.


  • Provided a broad range of legal advice to the Central Bank of Nigeria on licensing of Banks and Bureau De Change, critical policy-making, implementation, and enforcement of relevant laws and regulations for financial institutions.
  • Legislative drafting and preparing Bills for enactment into law for the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.
  • Acted on behalf of the Federal and State Governments in an action against Tobacco Companies in Nigeria, to prohibit the marketing, promotion, distribution and sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products to minors, or within 1-kilometer radius of minor populated vicinity.
  • Acted on behalf of a State and the Federal Government in an action against Multinational Pharmaceutical Companies and its Directors over the Trovan illegal drug clinical trial carried out on minors in a State in 1996.
  • Spearheaded the Private Placement of a major northern financial institution for 40,000,000,000.00 (Forty-Billion Naira) Ordinary Shares of 50kobo each at NO.50 per share;
  • Lead Solicitor to the Offer in a State Government offer for subscription of N 4,950,000,000.00 16.5% Fixed Rate secured Bond;
  • Lead solicitor on a major Cement Company Mandatory Tender Offer bid for up to 927,008,065 Ordinary Shares of 50 Kobo each (representing a 41.39% Equity Interest to minority Shareholders of the company.

National, Regional & International Service

  • Served on the African Union Committee of Experts on the Rights Welfare of the Child; July 2008-2013
  • Appointed to the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidential Advisory Council; May 2011
  • Member of the Northern Governors’ Committee on Reconciliation, Healing & Security; August 2012
  • Served as the Chairperson of the Social Transformation Cluster and Coordinator of the Poverty Alleviation & Social Security Technical Working Group for the short, midterm and longer, National Development Plans; June 2020
  • Appointed Advisory Board Member of ‘Goalkeepers’, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation non-profit, May 2022.
  • As Special Adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on National Social Investments, she pioneered the coordination and supervision of the Federal Government Social Investment Programmes from inception, comprising the cash transfer, school feeding, youth employment (N-power) and Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programmes, which efforts directly impacted on over thirteen million Nigerians, across the country; Nov 2015 to Sept 2020.
  • Coordinated and supervised the At-Risk Children’s programme for the Federal Government of Nigeria, as Special Adviser, which project mainly focused on addressing the prolonged and well-documented vulnerabilities of children who have lacked social protection and sundry deprivations around education, health and empowerment; January 2021-May 2023.


  • L Nigerian Law School, 1981
  • B (Hons) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1980
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria LL.M. 1985
  • Institute for Advanced Legal Studies Lagos (Certificate in Legal Drafting 1989)
  • Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos (Certificate in Advanced Practice and Procedure 1995)
  • The College of Law, England and Wales, International Practice Diploma in International Business Organisations (2003)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Islamic Banking and Insurance 2009
  • Certificate from the EUROMONEY Financial Training on Improving Board Effectiveness; Sept 2013
  • Certificate on ‘Making Corporate Boards More Effective’ from the Harvard Business School; Nov 2014.
  • Certificate in Leadership for System Change: Delivering Social Impact at Scale, from the John F Kennedy School of Government; March 2023


  • Solicitor – Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
  • Member – International Bar Association
  • Member – Nigeria Bar Association
  • Member – Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK
  • Associate Fellow- Institute for Islamic Banking & Insurance, UK.
Scroll to Top