For wrestling poverty to submission with uncommon determination and zealous hard-work; for being in the trenches at the risk of his dear life during fight against military rule in Nigeria for the sake of the ‘conquered’ civilian populace; for speaking out, at all times, against authoritarianism in civilian garbs; for rising to the defence of the beleaguered, the voiceless, the cheated, the forgotten, the rejected, the downtrodden, and the marginalized through the instrumentality of law and for his humongous contributions to the development of jurisprudence nationally and internationally, Chief Mike Abu Agbedor Ozekhome (SAN) is the Bar and Bench Watch ICON for the week.
Royal High Chief (Dr) Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb is a constitutional lawyer, human rights activist, Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM), author, social critic, public affairs analyst, and pro-democracy campaigner, who has since become a leading light and reference point in the crusade against government authoritarianism, arbitrariness, impunity, executive lawlessness, and abuse of cherished fundamental rights, liberties and freedom of Nigerian citizens. He is 59 years old today.
He attended St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Iviukwe, St. Peter’s College, Agenebode, Baptist Academy, Lagos, and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), where he earned the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
He was called to the Bar in 1981, in Lagos, after passing the Bar examination at the Nigerian Law School, in flying colours. He later lectured at his alma mater’s Law Faculty. Many of his students are judges in superior courts of record, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, high level diplomats, top military brass, captains of industry and professors. Ozekhome holds six honorary doctorate degrees (honoris causa) and ten fellowships from institutions across Nigeria and abroad.
Married to an accomplished lawyer, Lady (Chief) Josephine Ozekhome, LL.M, and blessed with seven children, Ozekhome had early in life, imbibed the endearing principles and virtues of hard-work, dedication to work and fear of God. He has served as a defender of the weak and voice of the voiceless. He is an avid promoter of culture and tradition. He holds the enviable titles of Akpakpa Vighi Vighi of Edoland (Generalisimo) and Enobakhare, Benin Kingdom, amongst over fifty traditional chieftaincy titles garnered from various communities and tribes across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
Though brought up in humble beginnings, Ozekhome is a quintessential success story of grass to grace and zero to hero. The life of this legal prodigy and iconic patriot is paradigmatic, exemplary and worthy of emulation.
We at the Bar and Bench Watch newspaper join millions of others from all walks of life all over the globe to celebrate you as you clock 59 today. Congratulations!