NBA, BOSAN, jurists eulogise late Uwechue
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), members of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) and other eminent jurists have extolled the virtues of the late legal luminary and former Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief George Uwechue (SAN) as he was buried in splendid pomp in Delta State.
In a tribute by NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), stated that Uwechue was an active and committed Bar man.
He, he recalled, was a representative of the NBA in the BoB for 17 years, before his appointment as a Life Bencher.
“He also served our nation to the best of his abilities and in varying capacities, having served as Chairman of the BoB; Member, Rules Advisory Committee that drafted the Supreme Court Rules, 1985 (as altered) and Member, Federal House of Representatives representing Aniocha Federal Constituency, in the old Bendel State. Truly, he was a statesman to the core,” Maikyau declared.
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Also, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr. Lawal Pedro SAN and a representative of NBA branches in Lagos State eulogised the elder statesman, who died at 85.
Many activities were done to honour his uncommon career both as a foremost senior lawyer and a former federal legislator who rose to become Nigeria’s Speaker Pro Tempore.
Following Uwechue’s demise on October 29, 2023, the family, in collaboration especially with the alumni of G. N. Uwechue & Co, rolled out several activities to celebrate the late sage.
The events kicked off with a well-attended Special Court Session organised by the Lagos State Judiciary in honour of the foremost senior lawyer and member of the Inner Bar.
The solemn ceremony, which is reserved for senior lawyers who achieved extra-ordinary distinction in their professional career, was held on January 17, 2024 at Lagos High Court, GRA, Ikeja with Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba as the Chief Host.
Justice Alogba described Uwechue as an erudite senior lawyer who would be sorely missed by the legal profession.
In a tribute by the BoB signed by its Chairman, Justice Mary Odili and delivered on its behalf by Deacon Dele Adesina (SAN), it noted that Uwechue was a quintessential practitioner, a rare gem, a great leader, an epitome of humility, a mentor and a respected elder Statesman.
It added: “He distinguished and made a name for himself within and outside the legal profession. He was one Nigerian that served the legal profession and the nation diligently and meritoriously in various capacities.”
On its part, BOSAN noted that “so much has been said about his brilliance as a lawyer and his astuteness as a politician,” adding that Uwechue “appeared as counsel in a large number of important cases and played an active role in the affairs of the NBA.”
Delivered by foremost maritime lawyer, Mr. Louis Mbanefo (SAN), BOSAN stated that Uwechue, also known as the Owelle of Ogwashi Uku, “became a Life Bencher and Chairman of the Body of Benchers.”
Mbanefo noted that “During my visits to his house shortly before his death, he expressed his delight at the honour bestowed on him by the Body of Benchers by naming a building at their headquarters in Abuja after him.”
BOSAN noted that the death of Owelle has left a void in their hearts, adding that he shall sorely be missed.
Another Special Court Session was held on Friday January 19, 2024 by a Requiem Mass/Night of Tributes held at Sir Adetokunbo Ademola Hall of the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.
Yet, another Special Court Session was held for the legal colossus by the Delta State Judiciary on Thursday, January 25, 2024 at the High Court of Justice, Asaba.
Presided over by the State Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Diai, the solemn ceremony was witnessed by the cream of Nigeria’s Bar and Bench both from within and outside Delta State.
The Special Court Session was followed the same day by a Wake Keep for Uwechue, who was also the traditional Prime Minister or Owelle of Ogwashi-Uku.
This set the stage for the Funeral Service which was held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State.
The funeral service was immediately followed by a solemn interment ceremony at the Owelle of Ogwashi-Uku Villa witnessed by the clergy and family members.
Extolling the virtues of Uwechue as a quintessential lawyer who lived by the ethics of the legal profession, former Anambra State Governor and Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 General Elections, Mr. Peter Obi noted that though Uwechue led the team that battled him during the governorship election petition trial, he did so with exceptional poise devoid of acrimony.
Other dignitaries who extolled Uwechue’s exemplary life were the wife of Nigeria’s former Vice President, Prof. Beatrice Ekwueme; the Chairman of Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige SAN; Senator Daisy Danjuma; a representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi CFR (Ọjájá II); Yoruba generalissimo and Leader of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams; Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN); foremost maritime expert, Mr. Chidi Ilogu (SAN) and Mr. Chibuike Ihekweazu (SAN).
Incidentally, both Ngige and Ilogu are among the alumni of G. N. Uwechue & Co.