Chief Christoper Adebayo Ojo, SAN, is our ICON for the week


For being, all his life, everyone’s idea of a gentleman, every young lawyer’s idea of a favourite uncle and every senior lawyer’s idea of a sparring partner; for his exceptional humility, personal charm and humongous professional accomplishments in the legal profession at the national and international scene in the last four and a half decades which had landed him many juicy professional appointments locally and internationally; for being on the pantheon of all-time great national bar leaders in the country whose guiding voices echoed non-stop on the position of the law on several constitutional issues that emerged before, during and after their terms as President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); for his unique contributions to inmates’ access to quick justice and the decongestion of various prison facilities in the country during his tenure as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; for being an accomplished arbitrator in the world and one of the leading lights of Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria and for the role he played alongside others in the establishment of the Federal University, Lokoja and his unalloyed support to the new Faculty of Law of the institution, Chief Adebayo Christopher Ojo, SAN, FCIArb, CON, LL.B, LL.M, is our ICON for the week

A native of Ife-Ijumu in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, in North Central Nigeria, Bayo Ojo was born on November 24,1956 in Zaria. He started his elementary education at the age of five. Specifically, he attended the Holy Trinity Primary School, Maiduguri. He was there between 1961 and 1966. He however left Holy Trinity in Maiduguri for St. Michael’s Primary School, Kaduna where he completed his primary education in1967. He passed out with flying colours. He thereafter gained admission to St. Paul’s College (now Kufena College), Zaria in 1968. He was there till 1972 when he again transferred to Titcombe College, Egbe, Kwara State, a missionary school founded by Sudan Interior Mission in 1951. He was his class topper. He gained admission to the University of Lagos in 1974 to read Law. He graduated at the university in 1977 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School same year. He finished his programme at the Law School in 1978.

Young Bayo Ojo was called to the Nigerian Bar in July 1978 and began his career at the Ministry of Justice, Enugu same year as State Counsel. He had his first solo court appearance as defence counsel in a rape case before Hon. Justice Anthony Iguh of the High Court of Justice, Enugu, in 1978 as a member of the National Youth Service Corps.  After his compulsory youth service programme, he worked at the Ministry of Justice, Kwara State, as a state counsel for four years. During this period, he obtained a certificate in Legal Drafting from Royal Institute of Public Administration, London in September, 1981. Thereafter, he proceeded to the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, to obtain LLM in September 1982 and a Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London. He is today a Fellow of the same Institute and a Chartered Arbitrator. He is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

In March 1983, he opted out of government service to join the firm of Oniyangi & Co as head of chambers. In 1986, he founded the law firm of Bayo Ojo & Co., a firm of legal practitioners in Nigeria. Since then, he has been in active Commercial law, International Law, Litigation, Mediation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution practice. He has acted as sole Arbitrator, member of arbitration panels, and as Counsel in numerous domestic and international arbitrations at the International Chamber of Commerce Paris, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Washington DC, the American Arbitration Association and the London Court of International Arbitration over the last thirty five years involving complex oil and gas, investments, infrastructure, power, mining and commercial ventures. He has also acted as expert witness in international arbitrations including ICSID. He has mediated on several disputes as well. A member of the outstanding Nigerian Law School Class of 1978, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN is currently the President of the African Arbitration Association and Editor-In-Chief of the Nigerian Journal of Arbitration and Mediation (NJAM), Editor-in-Chief of African Journal of Arbitration and Mediation (AJAM) and Co-Author of Handbook of Arbitration and ADR Practice in Nigeria. Today, Chief Christopher Adebayo Ojo, CON, SAN, C.Arb, is internationally recognised as an Arbitrator.

Bayo Ojo, SAN is a distinguished legal practitioner, having held the topmost positions that the profession accords at various levels, including being the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) (2004 – 2005) and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (June, 2005 – May, 2007). He took over from Chief  Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN and was succeeded by Chief Michael Kaase Andoakaa, SAN. During his tenure as Attorney-General (June 2005 – May 2007), he regularly appeared in court personally to argue cases on behalf of the government. Previous attorneys-general had mostly preferred to engage lawyers in private practice to appear for the government. He was also noted for his brilliant efforts in decongesting Nigerian prisons by engaging lawyers in private practice to defend various individuals who were being held by the state without trial. He also had a measure of success in advocating for an improvement in the welfare of younger lawyers.

Some of his major professional appointments in the last 32 years include:

  • President, African Arbitration Association (AfAA) June 2018 to date
  • Alternate Chairperson of the UNESCO Appeals Board Paris 2014 to 2018
  • President, African Users’ Council of the London Court of International
  • Arbitration, London LCIA February 2013 to May 2019
  • Member, Board of Trustees of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London 2011 to 2018.
  • Member, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Hague, Netherlands 2010 to 2018
  • Member, ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, Washington DC 2008 to 2015
  • Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria Branch 2009 to 2010
  • Council Member, Section on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Law of the International Bar Association 2008 to 2014
  • Member, United Nations International Law Commission, Geneva, Switzerland November 2006 to March 2011
  • Patron, Nigerian Society of International Law 2006 to date
  • Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2005 – 2007
  • President, Nigeria Bar Association NBA 2004 – 2005
  • Chairman, Legal Aid Board of Nigeria 1999 – 2004
  • Chairman Kwara State Elections Appeals Tribunal, Nigeria 1995
  • Member, Council of Legal Education of Nigeria 1991 – 1992
  • Member, National Election Petitions Tribunal of Nigeria 1992
  • Member, Body of Benchers of Nigeria 1992 – 1997; 2000 – 2007; 2012 to date
  • Life Member, Body of Benchers of Nigeria
  • Life Member, National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association
  • West African representative of the Foundation for International Commercial Arbitration (SICA/FICA) based in The Hague.

He also belonged to various Professional Associations including:

  • International Bar Association
  • International Insolvency Association
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London.
  • Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators of Nigeria
  • Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators of Nigeria 
  • London Court of International Arbitration
  • Swiss Arbitration Association
  • Nigerian Bar Association
  • Maritime Arbitration Association of Nigeria
  • Associate Member, American Bar Association
  • The Law Society of England and wales
  • African Arbitration Association

According to the President of ILA Nigeria and Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Professor Olawuyi, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN is a highly revered international law tactician who has traversed the practice of both public and private international law. He said Ojo’s remarkable record of service to Nigeria, the global community and most importantly to the legal profession is indeed a great source of pride and inspiration to all of us. His remarkable success story as an international commercial arbitrator will undoubtedly propel and motivate the next generation for many years to come.

Bayo Ojo, SAN himself said: “I am very fulfilled, being the first Nigerian to become the Trustee for Africa on the Board of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London. That, to me, is a big reward and indication that my effort is really yielding results.”

Bayo Ojo is married to Hon. Justice Folashade Bayo-Ojo, presently, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, and they have two children, a male and a female— Babatomiwa and Olubusola. He himself has two brothers—Daniel Oluwasegun Ojo and Victor Olanrewaju Ojo.

For the meritorious service he rendered to his fatherland, he was decorated with a national honour— Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). He was also honoured with a chieftaincy title of Bamofin of Ekanland in 1996. Both are asides several achievement awards he has received both locally and internationally.

His hobbies include reading, playing golf and community work

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