by crossriverwatch admin
Congratulations to the latest Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from Cross River State of Nigeria, Tawo Eja Tawo. He was nominated for conferment of the prestigious title by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee last weekend. All in all, 17 lawyers in the country made the prestigious rank this year.
The investiture of the new Senior Advocate of Nigeria will take place in the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in September, 2014. Mr. Eja is a quite but productive and industrious legal practitioner from Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State.
I must confess that I have not seen, met or heard about him even though I was called to the Nigerian Bar 23 years ago. However the nomination of Mr. Eja for the prestigious title attests to the incontrovertible fact that he is a brilliant, disciplined and hardworking legal practitioner who has assiduously contributed his quota towards the development of the legal profession in Nigeria.
When I read about the nomination of Mr. Eja from the posting of the indefatigable Mr. Kennedy Nsan on my BBM on the 12/7/2014, I was highly elated and excited. I did not ask Mr. Nsan who Mr. Eja was although he wrote that he is his Uncle. I rather placed a call to Barrister Matthew Ojua to ask him if he knows Mr. Eja.
Barrister Ojua answered in the affirmative. He told me that Mr. Eja was probably called to the Bar in 1986 or so. Barrister Ojua told me that Mr. Eja has practiced law mostly in Kaduna and Abuja. It is delightful that Cross River State has presently seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria. They are Kanu Godwin Agabi (SAN); Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN); Joseph Odey Agi (SAN); Paul Erokoro (SAN); Mrs. Nelly Rabana Lawal; Okon Nkanu Efut (SAN) and the latest Tawo Eja (SAN).
We lost Mrs. Shaban (SAN) some four years ago. She was a proud Efik woman though married to somebody from Northern Nigeria. She had been a partner of Barristers Kanu Godwin Agabi and Edward Ogon. Their firm was known as Agabi, Shaban, Ogon & Co. based in Lagos.
The first Senior Advocate of Nigeria from the State was Dr. Okoi Arikpo (SAN). He was conferred in 1978. Okoi Arikpo was the first lawyer from the old Ogoja province (now Northern and Central Senatorial Districts of Cross River State). He was called to the English Bar in 1956.
Then came Honourable Justice Ecoma, former Chief Judge of Cross River State. Thereafter Honourable Justices Emmanuel Takon Ndoma-Egba and Emmanuel Etowa Arikpo of blessed memory. The second Senior Advocate of Nigeria from the State was late Etubom Efiom Ekong (SAN), Etubom Efiom Ekong was conferred in 1980. He is the father of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Barrister Edem Ekong.
He was unfortunately assassinated in 1982 on his way to Ogoja to attend Court. In his car on that fateful day with Etubom Ekong was the Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He was then a young lawyer in the chambers of Etubom Ekong. Etubom Ekong was a Federal Minister of Mines and Power of Nigeria from 1975 -1978.
The criteria for the conferment of Senior Advocate are excellence, scholarship, industry and discipline. A legal practitioner who desires to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria must apply and fulfil the laid down conditions. Such a legal practitioner must have argued at least six cases in the Supreme Court of Nigeria; the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
I pray that the next Senior Advocates from the State should be Barristers Matthew Ojua and Mba Ukweni. These are fine legal practitioners in every sense of the word. They truly deserve to be among the elitist class of legal practitioners in the Country. I remember today, late Richard David Ebri. He died suddenly in 1999.
He slumped in the Court of Appeal, Calabar where he had gone to argue an election matter for his client, Dr. Sandy Onor and never recovered. He died on the 29th January 1999. Richard David Ebri was a distinguished, brilliant and well spoken legal practitioner who had made his mark early in the legal profession.
He was born in 1962 and died at the early age of 37. He was the able but junior partner of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN). Their law firm was known as Ndoma-Egba, Ebri & Co. It is great that Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) has not changed the name of the firm after the death of Richard David Ebri. May his soul continue to rest in the bosom of our Lord.
I also remember my friend, Charles Duke who died two years ago. He was such a fine legal practitioner who made his mark despite his challenging and debilitating health condition. He made several appearances in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and was destined for the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria but the cold hands of death took him away from us unexpectedly.
It takes averagely 20 years for a case to be argued from the High Court to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. So you can imagine how arduous it is to make six appearances in the Supreme Court to meet one of the several conditions a legal practitioner must fulfill to be eligible to be conferred with the rank of senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Congratulations to all the Senior Advocates from our State. It is not easy. I know it. They have all made us proud and shown that Cross River State was the first in the defunct Eastern Region to produce Lawyers. The first lawyer from the defunct Eastern Region was an Efik man who was called to the Bar in 1924. The first Igbo lawyer was Sir Louis Mbanefo, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Chief Justice of Eastern Region of Nigeria called to the Bar in 1936.
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