Mike Ozekhome Biography
High Chief (Dr) Mike Agbedor Abu Ozekhome, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the Akpakpa Vighi Vighi of Edo land, Constitutional Lawyer, Human Rights Activist, pro-democracy campaigner, Author, Social Justice Crusader, Notary Public of Nigeria, Knight of the Order of St. Mulumba (KSM), Motivational Speaker and Public Affairs Analyst, hails from Iviukwe town in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo state, Nigeria. His late parents, Chief Abu Ozekhome and Madam Alimoh Abu Ozekhome were revered Chiefs and notable Community leaders.
Dr Mike Agbedor Abu Ozekhome, SAN, attended St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Iviukwe, between 1964-1969, after which he attended St. Peter’s College, Agenebode, from 1970-1974. He concluded his secondary education in flying colors and obtained his WASC with top grades in 1974. He was the best student in 1974, he was at Baptist Academy, Lagos, for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) course in 1975, before he gained admission to the University.
He was offered admission simultaneously into three renowned Nigerian Universities, UNN, Nsukka to read Mass Communications, University of Ibadan, to read Political Science and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, to read English language. He opted for the University of Ife, with a student population of about 15,000, to read English language. As a result of his foresight and resilient nature, he succeeded in changing his course of studies from English Department to the faculty of Law in the same University, losing, voluntarily, one academic year in the process to actualise his passion and dream of the Legal profession. Throughout his University days, he was a leading student activist, the best debater and one time acting Speaker of the student’s parliament, the Student Representative Council (SRC).
High Chief (Dr) Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, graduated in flying colours with Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 1980. He became a Barrister at Law in 1981 after graduating from the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos. He did his pupilage and vacation attachment with “Peoples Lawyer”, late Chief Kanmi Isola Osobu.
Dr Mike Ozekhome started his professional legal practice as a Youth Corper posted to Yola, the capital city of the then Gongola State, now Adamawa and Taraba States, but got redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Justice, Lagos, as he felt his services and bubbling energy were grossly underutilized. He was subsequently seconded to the then National Provident Fund (now Nigerian Social Insurance and Trust Fund (NSITF), where he served as state counsel. Thus, while working as state counsel, he joined the legendary Chief Gani Fawehinmi on a part time basis to unleash part of his bubbling professional energy and zeal. This was later to sharpen his advocacy skills and build a stronger platform for his fiery human rights activism and dogged defence of people’s rights.
In 1982, Dr Mike Ozekhome was back to his alma mater at Ife, to pursue his masters’ degree programme. He also joined the staff of the faculty of law to teach law. He therefore lectured simultaneously as he pursued his masters’ Degree programme. Many of his 1982/1984 Law students are today SANS, judges of superior courts, Ambassadors, top Military and Police Captains of Industry and top civil servants.
He bagged his LL.M in 1983 and immediately went back to his first love, advocacy in the busy Chambers of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, to work first as a junior counsel, later as a senior counsel and finally as the Deputy Head of Chambers by 1985.
Fondly called “Ozek Baba” and “Mobile Dictionary” by Late Chief Gani Fawehninmi for his advocacy skills, sheer brilliance, lucidity and clarity of thought, scholastic disposition and rich vocabulary in the English language, Ozekhome soon stamped his authority on human rights and anti-military cases, handling detention cases in far away places as Jos, Kaduna, Yola, Umuahia, Enugu, Abuja, Ibadan, Makurdi, Maiduguri, Calabar, Port-Harcourt, Owerri, Uyo, Akure, Aba, Warri, Kaduna, Benin City and Kano.
As a renowned Constitutional lawyer, High Chief Mike Ozekhome, has handled and participated in many epochal and sensational cases that have shaped Nigerian Legal jurisprudence and enthroned Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. A few of them include the Oil Subsidy case, Umanah Umanah (“Port-Harcourt money-man”) case, the CLO 500 detainees case, the on shore/ off shore suit, 36 Houses of Assembly against Senate suit, the General Zamani Lekwot death sentence case, the Gani Fawehinmi “Gwagwalada five” case, the Nzeribe vs Senate case, the ICPC vs senate case, the Mike Ozekhome vs. President Ibrahim Babangida case, the Anyim vs Akanbi case, the Uduehi vs. N’Abba case, the Alamieyeseigha series of cases in Yenegoa, Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, etc, the Dr. Daboh vs National Assembly case, FRN vs Fani Kayode case, the numerous cases of FRN vs Chief Kenny Martins, Senator Bob vs. Chief Imeh Albert Akpan, George Odom vs. Senator Barigha – Amage case, F.R.N vs. El Rufir & 2 Ors, Daar Communications Ltd vs. NBC, etc. the Fidelity Bank vs. Communication cases, the Salami vs NJC case etc. He has handled numerous cases on election petitions and those bordering on sensitive constitutional law issues.
In 1986, Sir, Mike Ozekhome, founded the law office of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers. He has offices of his chambers in Lagos, Abuja, Benin City and Agenebode. He coordinates the activities of the various law offices from the Head office, Lagos and on internet from any part of the World. He also ensures that he is physically present in other branches of the firm to lead his juniors in major cases.
Outside legal practice, Dr Mike A. A. Ozekhome has held various positions and appointments which include:
• International Ambassador for Peace a recognition by University Peace Federation (an Interreligious and international Federation for World peace, a body with special consultative state with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOL) (2001).
• Member of the “Monitoring and Observation Board” by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor and observe the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections which were adjudged to have been free, fair and credible (April, 2010).
• Appointed as a Member of the “Monitoring and Observation Board” by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor and observe the delicate Anambra State gubernatorial elections of 6th February, 2010, and subsequent elections in Nigeria (2010). These election were adjudged by local and international Observers as well and members of the public as one of the freest, fairest and most credible elections ever held in Nigeria.
• Federal Government nominee to Vision 202020 representing the Judiciary and Rule of Law thematic area. This special committee was set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to reposition Nigeria as one of the leading economies in the World by the year 2020 (2009).
• Federal Government nominee representing Civil Society to the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) (2005).
• Member, Five-Member Presidential Committee that investigated and recalled many politically victimised and expelled students and lecturers of tertiary Institutions in Nigeria, particularly during the military era. This special committee toured all tertiary institutions in Nigeria and arbitrated on the injustice done during the military era. Many of those recalled or reinstated have since become big players in the Nigeria sociopolitical scene (2001).
• Chairman, Seven-Man Panel of “Persons of unquestionable integrity”appointed under section 188 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, that probed the activities of the chairman of Umunneochi Local Government Council, Abia state during impeachment proceedings against him by the Legislative Arm of the Council in 2001.
• Member of Seven-Man panel of Persons of “unquestionable integrity” appointed under Section 188 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to investigate allegations levied against the then Deputy Governor of Abia state during impeachment proceedings against him in 2000.
• Served as a Member of a Seven-Man panel of inquiry set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to probe, restructure and reorganize the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), whose recommendations led to massive and profound port reforms in Nigeria (1994).
• He was, in October 1987, Co-founder of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), the first organised Human Rights Organisation in Nigeria. He was the pioneer Director of Legal Services and member of its Governing Board (1987).
• In 1998, he co-founded the Joint Action Committee of Nigeria (JACON) with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, wherein he was National Visa Chairman, Publicity and Publication (2008 -2009).
• Founder and President, Universal Defenders of Democracy(UDD), an international, non-political, non-religious Human Rights and pro-Democracy league having observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (1992).
• Legal Adviser, Amnesty International (A.I.), Nigerian Chapter (since 1996).
• Founder and president, Democratic Rights Initiative (DRI), an organization committed to good governance, Rule of Law, Human Rights, transparency, accountability and anti-corruption in governance (1998).
• Fellow, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), and Member of its Governing Council (Since 2004).
• Chairman, Board of Trustees, Youth Enhancement Organisation (YEO) (since 2008)
• Chairman/CEO of several Companies in Nigeria.
• Former President, elite Usagbe Club of Nigeria (2000 – 2002)
• Founder and President, Peace Initiative (P.I.), a Peace-building, Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Arbitration Group (ADR) (since 1998).
• Member, Transparency in Nigeria (affiliate of Transparency International (since 2008).
• Member, Advisory Council, Centre for Criminal Justice Reform and Citizen Awareness (CIRCA) (since 1999).
• Member Advisory Board of the Nigerian Institute of Leadership (since 2003).
• Member, Board of Trustees, Centre for Peace Initiative, Ibadan (since 2003).
• Member, Board of Trustees, Patriotic Values and Ideals (PVI) (since 2000)
• Member, Board of Advisers, National Association of Nigeria Traders (NANT) (since 1998).
• Legal Adviser/Attorney, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and West African Journalists Association (WAJA) (since 1989).
• Patron, University of Benin Law Students Association (LAWSA) (since 1988).
• Patron, University of Ile-Ife Campus Chambers (since 1988).
• Fought numerous detention cases, getting released and freed from illegal incarceration and jail, hundreds of Nigerians.
• Sir Mike A. A. Ozekhome was detained several times between 1986 and 1999 gun-totting Security Agents of the Federal government on account of his Human Rights and Pro-Democracy activities, especially during successive military juntas.
• Founder, Mike Ozekhome Foundation (MOF), a wholly philanthropic and charitable organization committed to salvaging from ignorance, abject penury, hunger, disease and squalor, the down-trodden and wretched of the society. This Foundation is involved in granting interest-free micro credit facilities, promoting sports and social welfare, granting scholarships to indigent but brilliant students of secondary and tertiary institutions, youth and woman development and empowerment through provision of motorcycles, sewing machines, etc and general re-engineering of the society.
• In 1990, he was cited by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York, in its 1989 and 1990 annual reports: “In Defence of Rights: Attacks on Lawyers and Judges”, a report that chronicled lawyers whose lives were endangered across the World consequent upon their Human Rights and Pro-democracy activities.
• Sir Ozekhome in March, 1990, participated in the International Visitors Programme to the United States of America between February and March, 1990, wherein he visited Human Rights bodies, including Lawyers committees, professional leagues, corporate bodies, minority groups, prisons, Law Schools, Congress, etc, in Washington D. C., Austin, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, Los Angeles, California, Yakima and Seattle, Washington State, Boston, Massachusetts and New York, New York State (1990).
• High Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome, San has travelled far and wide, to many parts of Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia, attending conferences on Human Rights, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and professional matters.
• A sportsman to the core, he is the promoter of Ozekhome Babes Football Club (a female team since 1987) Iviukwe Bombers and Akpakpa Vighi Vighi Crusaders. He has sponsored foot ball competitions and inter-house sports competitions in Etsako Local Government Area and Weppa Wanno (since 1984).
• In 2008, Dr Mike A. A. Ozekhome was honourned in far away United States with the award of LL.D (Doctor of Laws) Honoris Causa, by the American Heritage University, San Bernardino, Califonia (2008).
• In April, 2010, he was honoured with the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Philosophy (PH.D) in Business Administration by the Cornerstone University and Theological Seminary, Jerusalem, Israel) (2010).
• On the 20th November, 2011, he was also honoured with the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Letters (D. Litt) by Caritas University, Enugu (2011).
• On July 1, 2011, he was given a “Certificate of Authenticity’ as recipient of a Distinguished Medal as MAN OF THE YEAR for Nigeria having “demonstrated exemplar accomplishments recognized by the American Biographical Institute United States of America.
• In July, 2011, Dr Mike Ozekhome was awarded a “Certificate of Ambassadorship” as “an Ambassador of Nigeria” by the World Forum Federation.
• In 2011, he was inducted in to the American Hall of Fame for his “Outstanding Commitment Dedication and Inspirational Leadership” (2011).
• He was also in 2011, honoured with a medal as one of the “Great Minds of the 21st Century”, by American Biographical Institute (ABI) Raleigh North Carolina (2011).
• In 2011, he was honoured with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” plaque (statue) by the United Culture Convention for his “Excellence in Law and Human Rights”, United Cultural Convention (2011).
• “Istdal Merit Award” presented to him on 26th August, 2011, by Imo State Towns Development Association, Lagos, for his “invaluable contribution to the promotion of legal practice in Nigeria and (your) association with the Imo State Towns Development Association Lagos”, (2011).
BIOGRAPHIES IN WHICH CITED
He has variously been cited in:
• Dictionary of International Biography (Who’s Who’s in the World) by International Biographical Centre (IBC), Cambridge, England, 28th and 29th Editions.
• “Who’s Who in Nigeria”, by NIBC, Lagos
• “Who’s Who in Nigeria” by NewsWatch Publications Ltd
• “Who’s Who in Edo State”
• “Who’s Who in Afenmailand”.
• “Man of the Year, 1999” by International Biographical Centre (IBC), Cambridge, England.
• “One of 2000 Intellectuals in the World” by International Biographical Centre (IBC), Cambridge, England (1999).
• “One of the outstanding personalities of the 20th century” by International Biographical Centre (IBC), Cambridge, England(2000)
• “One of the 100 sports personalities of the 20th century’ by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Lagos State Chapter.
In retrospect, it is obvious that High Chief Mike Ozekhome has a mission in which law is a tool, weapon and an instrument of socio-economic and political engineering, not only for self- actualization, but more importantly, for the promotion of public interest and the struggle for the emancipation of the masses from oppression. He has given voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless and the vanquished, succor to the cheated, denied, rejected and repressed member of the holoi poloi.
As a philanthropist extra ordinaire, Dr Mike Agbedor Abu Ozekhome, has uplifted numerous individuals and organizations. He awards numerous scholarships to indigent students at both secondary and tertiary levels of all schools in Nigeria, particularly in Edo State.
A consummate Author who has written four Law books and over 200 articles, Dr Mike A. A. Ozekhome, is a realist with stoic determination. His guiding principles are: be bold, courageous and fearless in the defence of peoples rights. He is highly detribalized. He believes in the infallibility of God, the dignity of man and full respect of his God-given liberties and freedoms. He believes in one Nation only to the extent that such entity is characterised by a sense of social justice, peace, equity, equalitarianism and mutual respect by the various Nationalities for one another. The Nigerian people attest to his illustrious credentials, avalanche of achievements and strong legal pedigree.
Dr Mike A. A. Ozekhome is extra ordinarily gifted and is a leading light in Human Rights Activism, social justice crusade, public affairs analysis and oratorical prowess. He is popularly called the “peoples lawyer” “Senior Advocate of the Masses” and “Voice of the People”. He is a leader, role model and mentor through whom many people have risen and realized their God-given potentials. Dr Mike Ozekhome has attracted to himself over 40 traditional and honorary Chieftaincy titles received from across Nigeria, the most famous of which is AKPAKPA VIGHI VIGHI OF EDO LAND (Generalissimo and Supreme Commander of the Traditional Armed Forces). This title was jointly bestowed upon him at Ekpoma, Edo State by all the 72 traditional Rulers of Edoland.
Today, Sir Mike Agbedor Abu Ozekhome, SAN, is a member of over twenty professional bodies, clubs and associations. He has received over 150 Awards and Honours both locally and across the globe. Some of these awards include the following:
• “Award of Excellence” award by National Association of Edo state Students of Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter, Ile-Ife, Osun State “as the mouth piece of the masses” (2011).
• “Award of Honour” by Bola Adekanle Campus Chambers by Faculty of Law, Ambrose Ali University, Expoma, “In recognition of his commitment and selfless contribution geared towards the development and Advancement of the legal profession in Nigeria” (2011).
• Honeyland Schools, Most Supportive Parent Award “In appreciation of his consistent and positive support to Honeyland Schools” (2011)
• “Award for Excellence” honoured by Etsako Student Union, Auchi Polytechnic Chapter (2010).
• Human Rights Defenders Organization of Nigeria (HURDON) Award of Honour as the “Foremost Human Rights Activist for 2008”.
• Pan African Partnership Golden Award for Professional Integrity & Productivity by Pan News Magazine on 27th November, 2008.
• Fellow of the Academy For Entrepreneurial Studies, Nigeria (AES) (2008)
• Fellow of Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliations (FICMC) (2010).
• “Excellent Merit Award” given by Ancient Edo-Benin Cultural, Arts, Music and Tourism forum world – wide, for his invaluable law service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist (2006).
• “Industrious Barrister of the year (2005)” Award by the Law Students Society, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye (2006).
• Men of Achievement Award” in recognition of his outstanding achievement in business and contribution to the growth and development of Nigeria” (2006)
• “National Hero, African Hall of Fame Award” (2006)
• “Golden Award” by the Law Students Association of Nigeria “in recognition of his contribution towards the sustenance of Democracy Human Rights and the Rule of Law (2005)
• “Outstanding Niger Delta Award” made by Niger Delta Democracy Union for his “positive contributions in advancing the cause of the South-South at the National Political Reform Conference (2005)”.
• “Award for Excellence” presented by Weppa-Wanno Union, Lagos branch “In recognition of his selfless contributions to the ADVANCEMENT of Weppa-Wanno people (2005).
• “Distinguished Service Award” by the South South Peoples Assembly (SSPA) “in recognition and acknowledgement of his steadfastness, dedication and patriotism to the course of the South-South Zone at the National Political Reforms Conference” (2005).
• “Certificate of Merit” by South South Peoples Assembly (SSPA) “for his dedication, resourcefulness, steadfastness and patriotism to the aspirations of the South South geo-political zone at the “National Political Reforms Conference” (2005).
• “Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) Golden Award in “recognition of his contribution towards the sustenance of Democracy, Human rights and rule of law in Nigeria” (2005).
• “Professional Excellence and Humanitarian Service Award” made by Centre for Academic Initiative in “recognition of his professional Excellence and Humanitarian service” (2004).
• “Corporate Affairs Management Award” for excellent performance as a top executive achiever in corporate management (2004).
• “Award for Excellence” presented by the Youth Campaign for Democracy “for his exemplary leadership in Political and Constitutional Advocacy” (2004).
• “African International Role-Model Leadership Gold Award for Excellence in recognition of his immense contributions in Africa through his sound leadership style (2003).
• “Honorary Fellowship Award” by the Institute of Corporate Affairs Management (FCAM) in recognition of his Excellent Performance as a Top Executive Achiever in Corporate Nigeria (F.ICA) (2003)
• “Distinguished Mentor to Nigerian Future Leaders”, an award by the Nigerian Institute of Leadership (2003).
• “Diamond Award for Professional Excellence” by Rolam Communications (2003) in “honour and recognition of (his) achievements in Legal/Human Rights”
• “Herbert Macculay Leadership Award” by New Nigeria Foundation for Human Rights Advocacy (2003).
• “Excellent performance Award” by the International Foundation for Excellence (IFEX) Nigerian Chapter (2002)
• “Honorary Citizen of the State of Georgia”, U.S.A (2002)
• “Honorary Citizen of Dallas”, Texas, U.S.A (2002)
• “Distinguished Service Award” by the Rotary Club of Apapa recognition of his contributions and service to mankind and Rotary club International (2002).
• “Peter Benson Award for Human rights Advocacy by Amnesty International, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State Chapter (2002) in recognition of his unquantifiable contributions to Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
• “Merit Award” “in recognition of his commitment to the cause of truth and Justice in Nigeria” by the Students’ Union Government, University of Calabar, Calabar (2002)
• Knight of the Order of St. Mulumba (KSM), (2001).
• Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary Club International, Abuja (2001).
• “The Royal Achievers International Media Networks award” in recognition of his “patriotic leadership and exemplary achievements and for generating and harnessing vital resources for sustainable Development of Nigeria’s Economic environment for the Benefit of mankind” (2001)
• The “Legend of Democracy” Award by Alimosho Youth Mainstream Organisation, Lagos (2001).
• “Senior Advocate of the Masses (S. A. M.)”, an award conferred on him by the Ogun State University Law Students Association (2000).
• Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM) conferred on him by the entire Nigerian students under the aegis of NANS (2005).
• Senior Advocate of Nigerian Students (SANS), an honour bestowed on him by all students in Nigerian Universities under the Aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) (2001).
• “Executive International Gold Award” in Recognition of his Patriotic Leadership and Exemplary Achievements and for generating and harnessing vital resources for sustainable development of Nigeria’s economic environment for the benefit of mankind, across the globe (2000).
• “Ecowas Distinguished Corporate Achievers Gold Award” for the “unparalleled and imperishable contribution made to the overall development of Nigeria and the sub-region in the areas of Law, democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice” (2000).
• “Knight of the Law Students Society (KLSS)”, one of the highest awards by the Law Students Society, Obafemi Awolowo University (O.A.U.), Ile-Ife (1999)
• “Humanitarian Merit Award and Patronage” by the National Human Rights Club of Nigeria, Enugu State University of technology (ESUT) Chapter (2000)
• One of “the Heroes of Democracy in Nigeria”, as listed by an authoritative Book of the same title written by Mr. Joe Igbokwe, a renowned social commentator and writer (1999).
• Inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2009 by the American Biographical Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A
• “International Man of the Year 1999/2000”, Award conferred on him by the International Biographical Centre (IBC), Cambridge, England (1999)
• “The outstanding young person in Nigeria”, Award conferred on him by Jaycees International, Nigerian Chapter, in the category of Contribution to children, World Peace and/or Human Rights (1998).
• “The most outstanding Great Ife Alumnus award”, by Jaycees (O. A. U. Chapter) in the category of contribution to children, World Peace and/or Human Rights (1998).
• “Most distinguished Alumnus (DA) of the University of Ife”, the highest honour bestowed on an alumnus of the University (O. A. U.), Ile-Ife (1990).
• Honoured with the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a member of the Inner Bar, the prestigious and glamorous Silk which hallmarks excellence in the Legal profession.
Nigeria as a Nation treasures this outstanding legal and Human Rights colossus of our time, a man with a very clean report card; depth of thought, clarity and lucidity of mind, exceptionally compassionate personality and a God-fearing Catholic. He is happily married with seven Children to High Chief (Lady) Josephine Mike Ozekhome, a Barrister at Law and the Managing Partner of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers, Lagos, Abuja, Benin City and Agenebode.
High Chief (Dr) Mike Ozekhome, SAN enjoys reading and writing, traveling and sightseeing, sports and music, philanthropy and empowerment activities, hot argument/debates, tending pets and plants. He is a teetotaler. He fears and glorifies God, putting Him first in all his undertakings.