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The swearing in of the newly Elected Officers of NBA PH Branch - - - - - - - - - - - - -2018 - 2020 NBA PH BRANCH ELECTED OFFICERS
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OPENING OF THE NBA PORT HARCOURT BRANCH HOUSE
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NBA PORT HARCOURT BRANCH FOOTBALL TEAM

THE HISTORY OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, PORT HARCOURT BRANCH

AS AT 30TH DAY OF DECEMBER, 2016.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

History has it that prior to the formal establishment of the Nigerian Bar Association in the year 1959 and its concomitant registration in that name, lawyers in major cities of Nigeria had been organizing themselves and holding meetings at regular intervals to deliberate on issues or matters that are of interests to themselves including all other such matters that pertained to practice of law as a profession. It can be recalled that Ibadan was first among all such major cities in Nigeria to meet as an organized group; hence Ibadan Branch is known and called the “Mother Branch” of the NBA. However, Enugu, Onitsha, Aba and Port Harcourt were the major cities in the Old Eastern Region for the establishment of law practices.

 

 

THE PRE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR ERA
Although the specific date of the inaugural meeting of the Branch is unascertainable due to poor data documentation that characterized the time, the Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt Branch traces its birth to the 1960s. The birth of the Branch predates the Nigerian Civil War. The pioneer members of the Branch were great lawyers such as Dr. N.B. Graham-Douglas, D.G Douglas, Esq., G.C. Nonyelu, Esq., C.A. Oputa, Esq., A.S. Young-Harry, Esq., N. Nwanodi, Esq., P.O.E. Bassey, Esq., and others who had by the 1960s established thriving and flourishing law practices in the Port Harcourt metropolis.

 

The cognizable pioneer Chairman of the Branch was Chief A.S Young-Harry of blessed memory while Chief P.O.E. Bassey (who later became the Judge of the Federal High Court of the South Eastern State of Nigeria) was the Secretary of the Branch before the eruption of the crisis that culminated in the Nigerian Civil War. The gathering of members for meetings and other activities of the Bar was truncated by the Nigerian Civil War which marked a period of interregnum in the annals of the history of the Branch.

 

THE POST NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR ERA
In or about the year 1970 following the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt Branch was reconstituted by the lawyers who survived the War and returned to Port Harcourt to re-establish their law practices. The cognizable members of the Branch at the time were Chief A.S Young-Harry, D.G Douglas (who later became the Honourable Justice Donald Graham Douglas), Chief I.A. Idamiebi-Brown, Chief N. Nwanodi (who later became SAN), Chief M.V.O. Allagoa, Chief R.W. Woyike, Chief Clifford Ibim, R. Assisi Bellgam, Esq., J.A. Fiberesima, Esq., (who later became the Honourable Justice J.A Fiberesima upon his elevation to the Bench as the Judge of the Federal High Court, i.e the Federal Revenue Court as at then), Chief B.G Whyte (who later became the Honourable Justice B. Gabriel Whyte), Chief Gbene Dr. C.N. Nunieh, Chief S.E. Asuk, Chief Ruskin Jamabo, Chief D.S. George, Chief Hebron George(who later became the Honourable Justice Hebron George) and a few others.

 

Chief A.S. Young-Harry was still the Chairman of the Branch at its reconstitution after the Civil War while J.A Fiberesima, Esq. succeeded Justice P.O.E Bassey upon his elevation to the Bench. The elevation of Justice J.A Fiberesima to the Bench brought about the election of R.P.G. Okara, Esq (who later became Justice R.P.G. Okara) as the Secretary of the Branch. In the pre-civil War era, the offices of Chairman and Secretary were held in perpetuity as elections were seldomly held except in the occurrence of vacancy in any of the offices.

 

In 1970, the number of members of the Branch was under 20 (Twenty) including the Official Bar. This historical fact can be evidenced in a group photograph taken by all the lawyers in Port Harcourt, including the State Counsel, the Magistrates and the Judges of the High Court with the then retiring Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon. Justice Adetokumbo Ademola when he paid a visit to Port Harcourt prior to his retirement. It was in the said 1971 that Kola Babalola, Esq became a member of the branch. However, between 1971 and 1972, the number of members increased tremendously by the arrival of some colleagues such as T.K. Amachree, Esq., Boma Peter-Kio, Esq., B.M Wifa, Esq., C.A.B. Akparanta, Esq., Sotonye Denton-West, Esq. and so on.

 

In 1979, O.C.J. Okocha, Esq. and later the 19th President of the NBA among others joined the Branch. At that time, Chief M.V.O Allagoa was the Chairman, Orabule Adele, Esq., was the Secretary while S.J. Ofoluwa, Esq. was the Assistant Secretary. Following the appointment of Orabule Adele, Esq. as the Attorney General of Rivers State in or about the year 1985, O.C.J. Okocha,Esq. was co-opted to serve as the AG. Assistant Secretary to S.J. Ofoluwa, Esq. who had then began to act as Secretary of the Branch.

 

It can be recalled that prior to the election of Chief M.V.O Allagoa as Chairman, the following persons had served as Branch Chairmen, namely:

 

  1. Chief A. S. Young-Harry
  2. Chief R.W. Nnwoka

 

Chief M.V.O. Allagoa served for nearly six (6) years as Branch Chairman until the year 1986. From 1986, the successive Branch Chairmen and Secretaries are as follows:

 

S/N CHAIRMEN SECRETARIES YEARS
1 Chief B. M. Wifa O. C. J. Okocha, Esq 1986-1989
2 Gbene Dr. C.C. Nunieh Chief A. R. George 1989-1992
3 Chief D.A Eremie Okey Wali, Esq 1992-1994
4 O.C.J Okocha, MFR, SAN, JP Chief O.T.K.D. Amachree 1994-1996
5 Chief A.R George Okey Owhonda, Esq 1996-1998
6 Okey Wali, Esq E. B. Ukiri, Esq 1998-2000
7 O.W-Pepple, Esq E. C. Aguma, Esq 2000-2002
8 Okey Owhonda, Esq F. A. Iyagba, Esq 2002-2003
9 G.I Abibo, Esq Worgu Boms, Esq 2003-2006
10 E.C Aguma, Esq Sobere Biabibo, Esq 2006-2008
11 Chief O.T.K.D. Amachree D.I. Okwakpam, Esq 2008-2010
12 Worgu Boms, Esq S. Long Williams, Esq 2010-2011
13 P.O Ukposi, Esq S. Long Williams, Esq 2011-2012
14 L. S. Oko-Jaja, Esq Kingsley Chuku, Esq 2012-2014
14 D. I. Okwakpam, Esq V. I. Benibo, Esq 2014-2016
14 O. V. Frank-Briggs, Esq Cordelia U. Eke, Esq 2016-Till date

 

It is worth mentioning that from January to April 1992, there was a Caretaker Committee headed by Elder Wilcox Abereton as Chairman and E. C. Aguma, Esq. as Secretary.

 

FORMER AND SERVING NATIONAL OFFICERS OF THE NBA FROM THE BRANCH
As it were, the NBA, Port Harcourt Branch continues to be one of the most vibrant Branches of the NBA. Many of its members have served as National Officers of the NBA, and they include the following:

 

1. Hon. O.C.J. Okocha, MFR, SAN, JP - President, 2000 to 2002,

2. Nimi Walson-Jack - General Secretary, 2006 to 2008

3. Chief A.R. George -1st Vice President, 2008 to 2010

4. E.B. Ukiri - Financial Secretary, 1998 to 2000; 3rd Vice President 2006 to 2008; 2nd Vice President

2008 to 2010; and 1st Vice President, 2010 to 2012.

5. Golden Tamuno - Publicity Secretary, 2002 to 2004; and

6. Mrs. Tess Morris-Okeke - Treasurer, 2008 to 2010.

7. Nwaeke Adimabua Ephraim - 2nd Assistant Secretary, 2014 to 2016.

7. Okey Leo Ohagba - 1st Assistant Secretary, 2016 to 2018.

 

 

Most recently, the Honourable Okey Wali, SAN former Chairman of the NBA – Port Harcourt Branch, and a former Attorney General of Rivers State, was duly elected and sworn in as the President of the NBA for the 2012 to 2014 Administration

 

THE OFFICIAL BAR - RIVERS STATE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
A serving Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice is the Chief Law Officer of the State and the leader of the Official Bar. From our record the Branch has produced past and the present Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. The Order in which they offered their services to the state are as follows:

 

S/N
HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL & COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE
  YEAR
1 Dr. Nabo B. Graham-Douglas   1969-1972
2 Chief C. D. Orike   1972-1973
3 Mr. Nwobidike Nwanodi   1973-1975
4 Mr. Loveday Iyagba   1975-1979
5 Chief I.A. Idamigbi-Brown   1979-1983
6 Mr. Charles A. Akparanta   1983-1984
7 Mr. B. M. Wifa   1984-1986
8 Mr. Orabule Adiele   1986-1987
9 Mr. Achor Ogbonna   1978-1990
10 Mr. Onueze C. J. Okocha   1990-1992
11 Mr. F. D. Lott   1992-1993
12 Mr. Adokiye Amiesimaka   1993-1996
13 Mr. Frank Owhor   1996-1999
14 Mrs. Aleruchi Cookey-Gam   1999-2003
15 Hon. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN   May 2004 - May 2007
16 Hon. Okey Wali   June 2007 - October, 2007
17 Hon. Ken Chikere   Oct. 2007 - 2011
18 Hon. Worgu Boms   2011 - 2015
18 Hon. E. C. Aguma, SAN   2015 - Till Date

 

It is important to note that Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam served as the first female Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and later became the first female Secretary to the Rivers State Government. Her records in public service should encourage female members of the Branch particularly her colleagues in the Association of International Federation of Female Lawyers to work hard.

 

A serving Attorney General may be described as the man with his head and two hands. The head representing the Honourable Attorney General while the two hands representing the Solicitors General and the Director of Public Prosecution. These two are very useful and provide necessary supports to a Serving Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

 

The Past and Present Solicitors Generals are as follows:

 

S/N PAST & PRESENT SOLICITOR GENERAL YEAR
1 E. A. B. Harry  
2 K. S. T. Sagbe  
3 I. C. Inko-Tariah  
4 A. K. Dabi  
5 E. Kingson  
Mrs. Marcellina U. Wakama 1998 - 1999
7 Mrs. Mina Benebo 2000 - 2011
8 R. N. Godwins, JP 2011 - 2015
9 Florence A. Fiberesima (Mrs) 2015 - Till date

 

The Past and Present Directors of Public Prosecution are as follows:

 

S/N
PAST & PRESENT DIRECTORS OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION
YEAR
1 A. O. Arologun, Esq    
2 I. C. Inko-Tariah, Esq   1979 - 1987
3 Melford Goodhead, Esq   1988 - 1990
4 Adokiye Amiesimaka, Esq   1990 - 1992
5 K. O. Appah, Esq   1993 - 1996
6 Mrs. Esther Joe   1997 - 2000
7 Mrs. O. I. Okoye   2000 - 2002
8 R. N. Godwins, JP   2002 - 2009
9 Mrs. O. I. Okoye   2009 - 2011
10 I. Otorubio, Esq   Nov. 2011 to date

 

YOUNG LAWYERS FORUM
In 2007 under the Leadership of Chief O.T.K.D. Amachree the Branch approved the establishment of Young Lawyers Forum.

 

The objective was to increase the interactions and build the capacities of Young Lawyers. The Chairmen from inception are as follows:

 

S/N
CHAIRMEN - YOUNG LAWYERS FORUM
YEAR
1 Felix Asotie, Esq   2007- May, 2011
2 B.S. Kokpan, Esq   May 2011 - May, 2012
3 Gladsomenews Amala, Esq   May 2012 - January, 2013
4 Jim-George Tamunoibuemi, Esq   2013 - 2014
5 Kejeh Bethel Chisor, Esq   2014 - 2016
6 Elijah Briggs, Esq   2016 - 2018


From the inception of the Branch 25 of the members have been honoured and conferred with the privilege rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria they are as follows:

 

1. Dr. N. B. Graham-Douglas, (late)

2. Chief G. A. Graham-Douglas, (late)

3. Hon. O. C. Okocha, MFR, SAN, JP

4. Dr. T. C. Osanakpo, SAN

5. Hon. B. M. Wifa, OFR, SAN JP

6. E. C. Ukala, SAN

7. Alhaji Fatai Aremu Oso, SAN

8. B. E. I. Nwofor, SAN

9. L. E. Nwosu, SAN

10. I. A. Adedipe, SAN

11. Chief N. Nwanodi, SAN, (late)

12. Chief C. A. B. Akparanta, SAN, (late)

13. Dejo Lamikanra, SAN

14. Hon. Okey Wali, SAN

15. Mrs. M. A. Essein, SAN

16. Chief Kola Babalola, SAN

17. S. T. Hon. SAN, JP

18. I. A. Chukwuemerie, Prof. SAN

19. Sir G. I. Abibo, SAN

20. Faye Dikio, SAN

21. David O. Ezaga, SAN

22. Amuda-Kannike Abiodun DR.

23. Ejelam Eke Aham, SAN

24. Eberechi Adele, SAN

25. E. C. Aguma, SAN

 

The Port Harcourt Branch has birthed its sister Branches of Yenagoa, Ahoada, Isiokpo, Bori, Degema, Etche and Omoku . It is really a privilege and a pride to belong to this great Branch. May the NBA Port Harcourt Branch continue to grow from strength to strength..

 

Click to view the 2012 Electoral Report
 

 

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