A society that does not celebrate its heroes will not have young people who aspire to greatness. It is on the platform of this truism that I stand to celebrate the iconic elevation of a legal luminary in the person of Chief Okoi Obono-Obla on his recent appointment as SA Prosecution to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I make efforts to sound the gong of this celebration strictly from the perspective of a lawyer and a citizen of Nigeria. This effort is deliberate and its intent is to divest this celebration of the usual confusing murky water of politics. But the truth that assail me even in this effort is that the best way to avoid a thing is to confront it, deal with it and drop it.
The position of SA to the President on Prosecution is that which merges political acumen with legal sagacity. Chief Okoi Obono-Obla was found worthy of this position because he is indeed a perfect blend and hybrid of law and politics. Politically speaking a lot of people expected Okoi to be a minister in this administration. He certainly has the clout and ability to be a minister and if such positions are rewards for loyalty, steadfastness and hardwork, Chief Okoi is as qualified as they come.
Now, there goes the political perspective. It should go; because further permutations of the political angle of what Chief got and what he didn’t get will not diminish the glory of his present appointment but might distract us from basking fruitfully from the glory. Let’s meet Chief Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla.
Obono-Obla was called to the Nigerian Bar on the 7th June, 1991. He graduated from the University of Jos in 1989. Thereafter he attended the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos from 1989 -1990. After his NYSC he joined the Law firm of the former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Godwin Agabi (SAN) from 1991-1994.
Chief Okoi is a recipient of the prestigious Nelson Mandela International Leadership Programme (former Young African Leaders Programme) of the US State Department in 1997 for his contribution to the promotion of good governance and respect for Human Rights in Nigeria. He is a distinguished Visitor of Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (1997). He is a fellow of the Salzberg Global Seminars, Austria known as Law 457 (2008).
Obono-Obla is a noted Human Rights Lawyer and Advocate in Nigeria. He is prolific Essayist and writer of articles on development, democracy and human rights. He is co-author of “Power, Struggles and Corruption – Deconsolidating Democracy in Nigeria” (2014).
He was pioneer National Legal Adviser and member Board of Trustees, defunct Congress for Progressives Congress (CPC) (2009-2010); also National Deputy Secretary of the defunct CPC (2011-2013). Obono-Obla was the Secretary/Member of the defunct CPC Merger Committee that negotiated the formation of All Progressives Congress with the merger Committees of the defunct ACN and ANPP.
Obono-Obla was the Chairman of the Screening Sub Committee of the maiden National Convention of the APC. He was a member of the Directorate of Legal and Security of APC Presidential Campaign Council. He was the Director of Legal and Documentation, Buhari Support Group.
He is a solid litigation lawyer who has consistently practiced in the High Court, Election Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Nigeria. Obono-Obla is a traditional Ruler in his native Cross River State. He is married with three children to Justina Obono-OBLA, a Barrister.
For President Buhari to have found Chief worthy of this appointment is testamentary of the President’s huge faith in this legal luminary. It is no longer a secret that one of the main thrusts of this administration is to tackle corruption. Prosecution is a major plank in fighting corruption and to be SA to the President on Prosecution is a huge responsibility with immense powers and herculean task.
There is no lawyer alive in Nigeria who is not familiar with the name Okoi Obono-Obla, unless, of course that lawyer is not practicing. I say this emphatically, because his name is replete in law reports. You can be practicing without consulting law reports and you can be consulting law reports without bumping on the name of this revered chief everywhere. So that Obono-Obla is qualified to discharge these new responsibilities is beyond question. He can do it. And he will do it.
Chief we shake your hand in celebrations. We will give you our hand