Chief Fredrick Rotimi Alade Williams, SAN, is our icon for the week

Chief FRA Williams, SAN

For deployment of his deep understanding of the law to handle complex legal issues of core national importance, the determination of which formed locus classicus in various areas of law in the country; for his superlative mentorship style which has produced many Senior Advocates of Nigeria, judges of superior courts of record, university dons, secretaries and legal advisers of various blue chip companies and attorneys general of different states, and for his outstanding contributions to the development of jurisprudence in Nigeria, Chief FRA Williams aka Timi The Law is our ICON for the week.


Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, QC, SAN aka  Timi The Law, was born on December 16, 1920 in Lagos. He had his primary school education at the Methodist Ologbowo School in the 1930’s and thereafter attended C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos. He was given a full scholarship to study Mechanical Engineering at Yaba Higher College but he chose to become a lawyer. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1942 and was called to the bar at the Gray’s Inn, London in 1943. He set up the first indigenous Nigerian law firm in 1948 with Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode and Chief Bode Thomas.

In 1943, he became the first Nigerian solicitor to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In 1957, he became the Western Region’s Attorney General, the first Nigerian to be an attorney general. He was made Queen’s Counsel in 1958, another first for him, as he was one of the first two Nigerians to be made one. He was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in 1959, the leading body for lawyers in the country.

Throughout his career, he was involved in some memorable and important court cases, such as Lakanmi vs the Western Government of Nigeria, which set the precedent that a military government could not use its power to make laws that will appropriate an individuals property.

Until his death, FRA arguably had the most contributions to the development of the law. Several of his cases at the Supreme Court in the late 1950s till 1990s (and early 2000s) formed the locus classicus and legal principles of law on various subjects.

He later entered the political arena as a member of the Nigerian Youth Movement. He rose to become the Movement’s general secretary. He later joined the Action Group in the 1950s and subsequently became the Minister for Local Government and Justice. He left politics in the 1960s, as a result of the political crisis in the Western Region of Nigeria.

FRA was a sport lover. Until his death, every December 16 or following Saturday was devoted to soccer competition between the teams of professional and administrative staff of Chief Rotimi Williams Law Chambers to round-off activities marking his birthday celebrations.

Chief Rotimi Williams’ family is the only one in the country to have produced five generations of lawyers: his grand-uncle Rotimi Alade, his father, himself, his children, his grandchildren. He personally produced two SANs (Senior Advocate of Nigeria-equivalent of Queen’s Counsel) among his four sons and a niece head-of-chambers (Mrs. Williams) as another SAN making four SANs in his office until his death. Aside from being the first QC (Queen’s Counsel) and later converted to SAN in Nigeria, his brother, Mr. Akintola Wiliams, is the undisputable doyen of the accounting profession in Nigeria.

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