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Published On: Thu, Apr 18th, 2013

18 Years after, Akpodiete Foundation Comes Alive

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18 Years after, Akpodiete Foundation Comes Alive
A legal icon, Late Chief (Dr) Ekuo Akpodiete who belonged to the first generation of Nigeria Lawyers from Urhobo extraction was remembered eighteen years after joining his ancestors with the launch of a Foundation for his memory. Oghenekevwe Laba captured the life and time of the man who was political ally of Chief Obafemi Awolow, Chief Dafinone and E.K. Clark among other personalities in the 2nd Republic

Late Chief Dr. Ekuo Akpodiete, Esq

The Family, friends and well wishers of Late Chief Dr. Ekuo Akpodiete, Esq, LL.B, LL.M, LL.D, Ph.d. of Greys Inn London and of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, gathered to celebrate the 18th year remembrance anniversary of the first Lawyer from Ughelli kingdom.
On Sunday 14th April, a thanksgiving church service and the inauguration of his foundation at the ceremony, was held at the Bishop Agori Iwe Memorial hall at Ughelli, were the paramount Ruler of Ughelli, HRM, Ajuwe, Oharisi the (iii), the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom, members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), former Delta State Governorship Aspirant and former secretary to Delta State Government, Barr Ovie Omo-Agege, Chief Austin Uloho, Dr Chris Oharisi and Barr Happy Oharisi among others dignitaries attended the event.
Renown Lawyer, Dr. Ekuo Akpodiete, was born on the 4th day of April in 1924 and passed on to glory on (Easter Sunday) the 9th of April 1995. After his Primary school at Ughelli, Ekuo Akpodiete proceeded to Enitonna High School, Port Harcourt, the present day Rivers State, where he graduated as the Senior Prefect during his time. After his high school education, he taught briefly and also worked as an English interpreter to Pre-independence British Colonial court at Sapele.
Akpodiete was a Christian of the Catholic faith, and it would be recalled that his First wife Mrs Lucy Akpodiete is the daughter of the first renown Catholic catechist of the then Warri province.
Before the Nigerian independence in 1960, Akpodiete travel to Britain for his legal education without any form of scholarship, stayed and worked with his first wife in England over a decade.
In 1965, Ekuo Akpodiete, was called to the prestigious English Bar of Greys inn London, alongside High Chief Alabo Graham Douglas, SAN, among others. In the following year in 1966, he was called to the Nigeria Bar.
Akpodiete, belong to the first generation of Nigeria Lawyers from the Urhobo extraction who studied in Britain. Among his peers who studied Law in England then where His Lordship, Hon. Justice Omo-Agege, former Chief Judge of the Republic of Gambia, and Delta State, His. Royal Majesty, Dr Dafiaghor, the Late Okobaro of Jeremi Kingdom, Renowned hotelier and lawyer, Mr. Goodie Ibru among others, it’ll be recalled that among them was Senator David Dafinone, his bossom friend who studied accounting.
After his return from the United Kingdom, Akpodiete practice Law briefly in Lagos before returning to Ughelli during the Nigeria civil war to his people and later took up appointment as a Midwest State Magistrate court Judge, and rose through the ranks in the Bench to became Chief Magistrate of the Magistrate court, at that time, he was the first classic Judge of the Magistrate court who presided over the opening of many courts for the very fist time of their sitting including, the Bomadi Magistrate Court, Abudu magistrate court, Iguobazuwa magistrate court among others.
However in the late 1970’s Akpodiete voluntarily resigned from the lower bench and went back to the Bar to practice Law.
In the days leading to the 2nd republic, he joined politics and became a strong political ally of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Late, Prof Ambrose Ali, Late, Chief Demas Akpore, Late Chief Samuel Oteri, JP. Late Dr Dafiaghor, Esq. Senator David Dafinone, Chief E.K Clark, among others.
Akpodiete was noted for the brilliant dynamism he brought to bear in the later part of his private Legal practice, it was so unique, he was notorious for excellent professionalism. He was engaged in numerous celebrated cases including the Orkar/Ogboru Coup of April 22, 1990 during General Babangida regim, where many protesters where arrested and unlawfully detained. Akpodiete rose to the occasion and demonstrated his legal prowess which eventually lead to the acquittal and released of many of the accused persons who where in custody in 1990.
He was an active member of several social and professional associations like Rotary Club, Metropolitan Club London, The Bristish and Nigeria Bar Association.
With the desire for more education yearning in him, in 1982, the legal luminary went back to the University of Warwick in England where he bagged the LL.M, Masters of Laws degrees and the Doctor of Law letters, LL.D.
In the early 90’s, University of Tennessee in the United State of America, bestowed on him, the Honorary Doctorate degree, Ph.d.
Moreover, during his time, Akpodiete held the Highest traditional Chieftaincy title in Ughelli Kingdom, “unuevworo”, (THE OTOTA OF UGHELLI KING), thus, the traditional Prime Minister and the title of Urhukpe ro’ovie, light of the King of Ughelli Kingdom.
Double High Chief Ekuo Akpodiete, was a lover of children, at death in 1995, he was survived with 30 children and many wives.
Today, the entire Akpodiete family, has the highest number of Lawyers in Urhobo Land, coming to a total of about 16 Lawyers and still counting because others including some grandchildren are still studying Law.
Akpodiete’s family expressed their sincere joy and gratitude to government officials, family friends, professional colleagues and well wishers for contributing one way or the other for the success of the establishment of Akpodiete Foundation.
Oghenekevwe Laba is a Lagos based journalist (08023773039)

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