Tribute to 1968 set of Nigeria Law School At 50, By Emmanuel Ogebe

Posted by News Express | 28 July 2018 | 2,528 times

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•Hon Justice JO Ogebe at the pinnacle of his career as a Justice of the Supreme Court

The 1968 Set of the Nigerian Law School comprised of about 126 aspiring lawyers mostly young men and women of under 30 years of age sprinkled with some elderly people.

Today the 28th of June 2018 marks the golden jubilee of their enrollment at the Nigerian bar by the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria Sir Adetokunbo Ademola and presented by the first indigenous director of Nigerian Law School Mr JO Orojo (later Justice Orojo Chief Judge of Ondo High Court).

A good number of that set went into public service as pupil state counsel or associate magistrate especially those from the north. They produced some:

  • Solicitors General 
  • Directors of Public Prosecution 
  • Chief Registrars 
  • State Attorneys General

Some especially from the north became high court judges. Some of the high court judges from the south were:

  • Justices Moshood Olugbani and Longe of Lagos High Court
  • Justice Olu Adekeye of Ekiti High Court
  • Justice Emmanuel Akpumdjere of Delta High Court
  • Justice Mrs Ruth Oyetunde of Oyo High Court (who was tragically murdered)

From the north the first to be appointed to the high court bench was 

Justice JO Ogebe of Benue State High Court in 1976 (in acting capacity).

He was followed by Justice Umaru Abdulahi of Kaduna High Court and

Justice Sulu Gambari of Borno High Court in 1977 (also in acting capacity).

Others were Justices Ayo Salami and Bisi Adegbite of Kwara High Court

Justice Rowland and one other from Kano High Court and finally Justice Lawal Abdullahi of Plateau High Court.

Eight of them were elevated to the court of appeal:

  • Justices Umaru Abdulahi and Salami who became Presidents of the Court of Appeal (PCA) and Sulu Gambari (current Emir of Ilorin) 
  • Justices Ogebe and Adekeye who became Justices of the Supreme Court (JSC)
  • Justice Rowland and 
  • Justices Katsina Alu and Dahiru Musdapher who became Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJN) the pinnacle of the judicial hierarchy of the land. So out of these eight, four rose to the Supreme Court - Alu, Musdapher, Ogebe and Adekeye.

In private practice, the set produced two SANs – Aliyu Salman, one time AG of Kwara state and Chief Sola Rhodes. Chief Goddy Ibru made his mark in the private business sector. 

More than forty (1/3) of the 68 Set have preceded them to the land beyond, the latest being late Justice Dahiru Musdapher CJN who passed on this year.

The set has contributed brilliantly to the development of Nigeria in all sectors especially the judiciary. They were professionals to the core. None veered into politics but were public service oriented.

It’s the only set that has produced two CJNs and two PCAs and in fact both concurrently.

The only dent on their performance is the disagreement between Alu CJN and Salami PCA over a governorship appeal in Sokoto state which landed in court and escalated into a national issue.

Two notable historic mentions from the 68 Set:

  • Honorable Justice Olu Adekeye rose to become the second female Justice of the Supreme Court in Nigeria’s history (Justice Alooma Mukhtar CJN the first female Justice of the Supreme Court was from the 1967 Set)
  • Due to the civil war, the only person of Ibo extraction at the Nigerian Law School was Emmanuel Okolo from Asaba who later became the Attorney General of Bendel State

All the 68 Set have now exited the bench. All who were Justices in the court of appeal rose to be presiding justices of various divisions across the country.

On their Golden Jubilee, we pay tribute to arguably the most impactful Class of the NLS on our judicial system and the country at large for their 50 years post-call.

While appreciating them for their positive contributions to Nigeria, we pray that new generations will arise to achieve even greater heights for the cause of justice and the rule of law in the land and for humanity.

Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq, writes from Washington DC USA. He can be reached via 

Source: News Express

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