For being a legal luminary of repute, locally and internationally and for lighting a candle in the darkness of humanity to drive back enervating ignorance and liberate minds from the shack­les of lack and superstition; for deploy­ing the instrumentality of law and the judicial process to leverage society and sustain peace in Nigeria, Africa and beyond, Chief Aare Afe Ba­balola, CON, OFR, SAN, is this week’s Bar and Bench Icon.
Chief Babalola was born in 1929, in Ekiti State and grew up in very hum­ble settings. He attended Emmanuel Primary School, Ado Ekiti.
After his primary education, he en­gaged in private studies because he could not afford school fees for sec­ondary school. He later obtained the A’Level certificate of London Univer­sity before he proceeded to London School of Economics where he re­ceived a bachelor’s degree in Econom­ics. He worked briefly at the Central Bank of Nigeria before he left to the University of London where he ob­tained a bachelor’s degree in Law. In 1963, he was called to the English bar, the same year he became a member of Lincoln’s Inn, London.
Afe Babalola began his career at Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, in the then Western Nigeria as a litigation lawyer with Olu Ayoola and Co, law firm. In 1965, after two years of legal practice, he established his own law firm, Afe Babalola and Co. (Emman­uel Chambers). In 1987, he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the high­est rank in Legal profession in Nigeria. He has had a very successful law prac­tice and had trained over 700 lawyers.
In 2001, he was appointed, Pro-Chancellor of the University of La­gos by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He held the position till 2008 during which he emerged as best Pro-Chancellor of Nigerian Universi­ties consecutively in 2005 and 2006.
In 2009, he established Afe Babalola University to promote education in Nigeria and the university’s College of Law has, at different times, been rated the best in Nigeria. In 2013, the uni­versity was ranked the second best private university in Nigeria and 17 of 136 universities in Nigeria.
He is the father to Bolanle Austen-Peters and Michael Opeyemi Baba­lola.

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