Justice Adebayo Oduwole: Exit of an Icon


Born 14th December, 1928, Simeon Adebayo Oduwole was the third son Pa Simeon Adeleye, a native of Ijebu Ode of Ajetunmobi compound, Aiyegbami, Porogun, Ijebu Ode.

Pa Oduwole, the father, was a general merchant trading under the name and style of Ajetunmobi Stores whilst in Lagos and Ibadan until his demise on Monday, 13th December, 1976. Late Justice Oduwole’s mother hailed from Agbowa-Ikosi (Epe Division in Lagos State) from the Olufuwa family (Abowa Ruling House) of Itun-Oriwu.)

Young Adebayo Oduwole began his educational training at Agbeni Methodist School, Ibadan between 1936 and 1941. He proceeded to Ijebu Ode Grammar School in 1942 and graduated with outstanding performances in 1950 under the principalship of Late Ven. Archdeacon Efunkoya and Late Rev. Canon S.R.S Nicholas respectively.

Virtually brought up in the parsonage at Ijebu Ode under the Late Rt. Rev. S.O Odutola (Bishop of Ibadan), then a Rev. Canon and late Rev. I.O Jadesimi (Asst. Bishop of Ibadan) then also a Rev. Canon, little wonder, he bagged the Senior Prize for the best behaved border when the prize was first introduced at the school in 1948.

Shortly after completing his secondary school education, he served as Assessment Clerk Grade III between 1951 and 1954. He later passed all the departmental examinations leading to his accelerated promotion to 1st class clerk. He worked under the then head and assistant head of the Department, F.G esq. and late Chief O. Omololu respectively.

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In 1954, Pa Oduwole proceeded to England to further his education where he attended North Western Polytechnic; Council of Legal Education; The Law Tutors. In 1961, he was called at the Middle Temple to the Degree of Utter Bar and enrolled in Nigeria same year.

Having passed the prescribed examinations of the University of London, he was admitted by the Senate to the Degree of Bachelor of Laws ( LL.B. London) as an external Student on 1st August, 1961. He later bagged Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts ( F.R.S.A).

BAR EXPERIENCE

Simeon Adebayo Oduwole practised law actively from 1961 until he was elevated to the High Court Bench of the Ogun State Judiciary on 1st June, 1977. Interestingly, he was one of the first three judges appointed after the the creation of Ogun State in 1976.

Justice Oduwole conducted various cases at different levels such as the Customary Courts, Magistrate Courts, defunct Western State Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. As a lawyer, he had quite a number of cases reported in Law Reports.

He featured prominently in Adepeju (U.I) Enquiry as one of the counsels representing the family; University College Hospital Enquiry presided over by the Hon. Justice M. Muhammed, then Chief Judge of Niger State; S.C.S.C Board of Inquiry into Nigerian Airways (1972), otherwise known as Okorodudu Commission of Inquiry; Lanlate Chieftaincy Enquiry in 1976.

He was member of the Ibadan Branch and National Executive member of the Nigerian Bar Association for most of his time in private practice.

Prominent amongst gentlemen of the bar who served apprenticeship and/ or practised in his chambers were Mr. Layi Aderemi, former National Treasurer of the Nigerian Bar Association; Chairman, Ibadan Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, who later became Hon. Judge of the Oyo State High Court, Mr. Sola Okusanya, a former Principal State Counsel, Ogun State, Mr. Fasusi, Mr. Oyeyemi, a Chief Magistrate in Oyo State.

Others included Chief Tunde Elemide, former Majority Leader of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Mr. Odina, also a Chief Magistrate in Oyo State and Mr. Agbo Olaleye, former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan and ex officio of the NBA.

BENCH EXPERIENCE – Judicial Divisions

Late Justice Oduwole served at the Ogun State Judicial headquarters, Abeokuta from 1st June 1977 to 31st August, 1979.
He served as Chairman of Ogun State Lands Tribunal, appointed by the Federal Military Government for three years vide Legal Notice No. 62 of 1977.

He was specially assigned by the then Chief Judge ( Hon. E.B Craig, C.O.N.) when in Abeokuta to assist the Law Reporting Committee then headed by the then Chief Judge, Hon. Justice T.O.O. Odunlami O.F.R.

Justice Oduwole also served as the Senior Judge in charge of Sagamu Division from 1st September 1979 to 31st August, 1982.

He also served as the Senior Judge in charge of Ilaro, present Otta Division from 1st September 1982 to 31st October 1985. On November 1st, 1985, he became the Senior Judge of Ijebu Ode division where he served till 1991.

Justice Oduwole was member, Local Government and Community Boundaries Settlement Appeal Tribunal of Ogun State from 1987 to 1991.

He was also member of a delegation comprising of Hon. Justice Odunlami, Justice Sogbetun and Justice Delano on a brief study to the United States in April, 1979 on the study of American Judicature. He was a delegate to the All Judges Conference in Lagos in 1978. He attended the 6th Commonwealth Law Conference in also in Lagos from August 17 to 20, 1980.

In 1982, he was part of the delegates to the All Judges Conference in Ilorin, while in 1993, he was in Nairobi, Kenya to attend the African Bar Association conference.

Justice Oduwole was also member of a delegation nominated nominated by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Fatai Williams. The delegation which comprised Hon. Justice Akanbi, former Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, Hon. Justice Kalgo, J.C.A, the then Chief Judge of Sokoto State, Hon. Justice Belgore was on a wide study tour of some states in the United States sponsored by the United States Information Service on a special programme designed to expose Nigerian states and federal judges to the federal and states courts in the United States, the functioning of the American system, its philosophical underpinnings, the relationship between judiciary, legislative and executive branches.

While Late Justice Oduwole attended American National Bar Association Congress in New Orleans, U.S.A in 1984 and got honourary membership conferred on him in 1985, he was also on a private visit to the District Court of Miami, Florida, U.S.A in August 1985.

He was a Ratourteur at the All Judges Conference in Abuja in 1998.

Papers:

Late Justice Oduwole delivered a paper titled Chief Law under the 1963 Constitution of the Federation and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979 at the Ogun State Judges Conference in September, 1984.

On Monday, 18th of June, 1990, late Justice Oduwole delivered another paper titled Land Matters at the Orientation Course for magistrates, Area Court Judges and Customary Court Judges at Ibadan Zone covering Oyo, Ogun and Lagos States at the instance of Advisory Committee on continuing Education in the Judiciary.

After 14 years of meritorious service on the Ogun State Bench, in 1991, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal as a Judge of that court. Three years after, howbeit for a short period, as he attained his statutory retirement age of 65 years on December 14, 1993, although his time at the court of Appeal, was relatively short, yet he made a remarkable contribution in the historical case of Zamani Lekwot and Others Vs Judicial Tribunal on Civil and Communal Distribution in Kaduna State reported in (1992) NWLR Part 2 (76) delivered on 20th November, 1992.

After his retirement, exhibiting the fact that he was not tired, Justice Oduwole again engaged himself in legal consultancy and other state assignments.

In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria awarded Justice Simeon Oduwole the Order of the Federal Republic.

CLUBS/SOCIAL/PUBLIC AND OTHER ASSOCIATIONS

During his lifetime, Justice Oduwole was a sportsman as he was team manager for the Western State Amateur Boxing Association to the All Nigerian Boxing Championship which took place in Enugu in 1974.

While he was member of the Youth Christians Circle, St. James Cathedral, Ibadan, he also served as the patron of Boys’ Brigade, Christ Church, Porogun, Ijebu Ode as well as patron, Fountain of Hope, Christ Church, Porogun, Ijebu Ode

Until his death, Justice Oduwole was also a honourary member of the Lions Club of Abeokuta Central.

Justice Oduwole, the patriarch of the Olufuwa royal family of Agbowa- Ikosi, died at the ripe age of 90 on 4 June, 2018 in Ijebu Ode.

He was survived by wives, children and grand children.

May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace.

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