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Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Is Our ICON For The Week

For rising from empty background to stardom in the legal practice and the academia earning 15 PhD degrees (one by thesis and 14 others by honoris causa) from reputable institutions located onshore and offshore including the famous Afe Babalola University; for conquering poverty through hard work, dedication to duty, resilience, determination and doggedness; for being a philanthropist extraordinaire silently uplifting numerous individuals through award of scholarships to indigent students at all levels of education in the country, particularly in Edo State; for his unique advocacy skills, exceptional brilliance, lucidity and clarity of thoughts in settled briefs, scholastic disposition, temerity cum intelligence and immense fecundity of ideas which had, severally, moved the law lords on the Supreme Court bench not only to agree with his position of law in various controversial cases but also to review their stands on certain settled issues of law; for using law as an instrument of social Engineering and for courageously confronting the authorities at all levels of government, calling out injustices on their watch, and demanding changes; for remaining in legal practice for over four decades with unblemished record; for being a leading light in human rights activism, social justice crusade and public affairs analysis from his university days till now and for his exceptional mentorship style, sparkling and humongous achievements in life which earned him various awards and titles including the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR), Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the Akpakpa Vighi Vighi of Edoland, Professor Mike Agbedor Emoepo Abu Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, SAM, SANS, FCIArb, LL.B (Hons), BL, LL.M, MA (HC), Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt, D.A, JD, D.Phil, D.Arts, HonDL, DHL, D.Sc, is our ICON for the week.

Born on October 15, 1957, in Iviukwe, a rustic town near Agenebode in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State to the family of Chief Abu Ozekhome and Chief (Madam) Alimoh Abu Ozekhome, law prodigy, Mike Agbedor Emoepo Ozekhome, started his western education at St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Iviukwe. He was there between 1964 and 1969 where he passed out as the best in a class of over 100 pupils. He thereafter attended St Peters College, Agenebode between 1970 and 1974 where he graduated as the best student in a population of 500 candidates that sat for the final West African School Certificate Examinations in 1974 with Grade 1 (Aggregate 16). No wonder, he had no issue gaining admission into the Baptist Academy, Lagos for his Higher School Certificate course in 1975.

Ozekhome spent few months there before he was offered admission into three renowned Nigerian universities— University of Ibadan to read Political Science; University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) to read English Language and the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka to read Mass Communication. Although he opted for the University of Ife to read English Language, his dream in life was to become a lawyer.



Upon registering as a student at Unife, he started making moves to cross from the Faculty of Arts to the Faculty of Law. It was though not an easy task, yet, he eventually succeeded in changing the course of study from English Department to the Faculty of Law. But that was not without a price as he had to voluntarily lose one full academic year.

Young Ozekhome however graduated in flying colours with Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 1980 and became a Barrister at Law in 1981 after graduating from the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island.

All through the time he was in school, he did his pupillage and vacation attachment with the famous ‘Peoples Lawyer’, the late Chief Kanmi Isola Osobu. 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).

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 then National Provident Fund, now Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) where he served as a state counsel. He joined the Chambers of the legendary Chief Gani Fawehinmi on a part-time basis to unleash part of his bubbling professional energy and zeal. His experience in Gani’s chambers indeed sharpened his advocacy skills and offered him a stronger platform for his fiery human rights activism and dogged defence of peoples rights.

In 1982, Mike was back to Ife, now OAU, to pursue his Masters degree programme. While he was on the programme, he also joined the staff of the Faculty of Law to teach Law. Many of his 1982/1984 Law students are today Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, judges of superior courts of record, ambassadors, top military and police brass, captains of industry and top civil servants. He bagged his LLM in 1983 and immediately went back to advocacy in the busy chambers of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN where he rose as a junior counsel to become the Deputy Head of Chambers in 1995.

Fondly called “Mobile Library”, “Ozek Baba” and “Mobile Dictionary” by late Chief Gani Fawehinmi for his advocacy skills, brilliance, lucidity, clarity of thoughts, scholastic disposition and rich vocabulary in English Language, Mike 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, P’Harcourt, Owerri, Uyo, Akure, Aba, Warri, Kaduna, Benin City and Kano.

In 1986, Ozekhome founded Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers. The law firm has grown to become one of the best in the country today with offices in Lagos, Abuja, Benin City, and Agenebode. He coordinates the activities of the various law offices from its sprawling Head office in Abuja located on 55, Nile Street, 2215 Cadastral Zone, Opposite Maitama Divisional Police Station, Maitama, Abuja and on the 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.


According to one of his children, Ilugbekhai, “My father started from nowhere and God has deemed it fit to bless him financially and with great health. At 60, he moves like a 40-year-old man and works unbelievably long hours. He is incredibly strong and healthy. If you describe wealth in terms of good health, he is a rich man indeed.​”

Following his sparkling achievements in law practice, rights activism, research and writing of books and seminal articles, he has been garlanded with, at least, 14 honorary doctoral degrees by top rated institutions including Afe Babalola University. The details of the honorary degrees are DHL (Doctor of Leadership and Entrepreneurial Studies) (Honoris Causa) Global Oved Dei Seminary and University (GODSU), USA (2023); D.Sc (Doctor of Science) (Honoraris Causa), Entrepreneurship, Strategic Business Management and Corporate Leadership – International Entrepreneurship University, USA, (2023); LL.D (Doctorate of Law) (Honoris Causa) Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State (2023); LL.D (Doctor of Laws) (Honoris Causa) Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) (2022); Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) (Honoris Causa), International Law and Diplomacy Prowess University, Delaware, USA (2022); LL.D (Doctor of Laws) (Honoris Causa), Edo State University, Uzairue, Edo State (2021); D.Arts (Doctor of Arts) (Honoris Causa), American University (Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara – Republic of Panama) (2021); D.Phil (Doctor of Philosophy) (Honis Causa) Trinity International University of Ambassadors (TIUA), USA (2018); Ph.D (Constitutional Law by thesis) Alliance International University, Lusaka, Zambia (2017) and Hon.DL (Doctor of Letters) (Honoris Causa) International Biographical Centre, (IBC), Cambridge, England (2013).

Others are D.A (Doctor of Administration) (Honoris Causa) Victoria Global University, Turks & Carcos Island (2012); D.Litt (Doctor of Letters) (Honoris Causa) Caritas University, Enugu (2011); Ph.D (Business Administration) (Honoris Causa) Cornerstone University and Theological Seminary, Jerusalem, Israel (2010); LL.D (Doctor of Laws) (Honoris Causa) American Heritage University, San Bernardino, California, USA (2008); JD (Doctor of Jurisprudence) (Honoris Causa) Commonwealth University, Belize City, Belize (2017).

Meanwhile, while Ozekhome was in active private practice, his passion for higher degree was growing by the day. Although he had risen to stardom in private practice with countless awards and honours including honourary PhD degrees in various areas of life, restless Ozekhome still registered for a PhD academic programme in Zambia and succeeded in acquiring the degree at Alliance International University, Lusaka, Zambia in 2017. His area of specialisation was Constitutional Law.

Ozekhome is currently a Professor of Law (International Law and Diplomacy (Honorary Professor), Highstone Global University, Texas USA; Visiting Professor of Constitutional Law, American Heritage University School of Law, Southern California, USA, (2021); Visiting Professor of Law, Afe Babalola University, (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, (2023); Visiting Professor of Law, Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), Abia State (2023); Visiting Professor of Law, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, (2023); Visiting Professor of Law, Philomath University, Abuja, (2023) and Professor of Law and Jurisprudence (Honorary Professor), International Entrepreneurship University, USA, (2023).

He has actively participated in all the National conferences and conversations of 2005, 2009 and 2014, all geared towards re-engineering the Nigerian project. For instance, in 2005, he was a Federal Government delegate to the National Political Reform Conference, (NPRC), representing Civil Societies. In 2009, he was a Federal Government delegate to the Vision 2020 Conference, to help chart a course for making Nigeria one of the twenty leading economies in the World by the year 2020. He had earlier in 1994 helped to reform the Nigerian Customs Service as a member of the Customs Reform and Restructuring Panel. In 2001, Ozekhome chaired the Federal Government panel that recalled many lecturers and students who had been politically and unjustly victimized and rusticated during successive military dictatorships. At the 2014 National Conference where he was a Federal Government delegate, he was named the “Cicero of the 2014  Conference”, by the Conference leadership, due to his sterling performance and contributions at plenary and Committee sessions.

Ozekhome has been awarded over 18 Fellowships in various fields of human endeavour. For instance, he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (FCIArb); Fellow, Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies (F.AES); Fellow, National Institute for Education and Research (FNIER); Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM); Fellow, Institute of Management Specialists (UK)(FIMS); Fellow, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (F.chMC); Fellow, Institute of Corporate Affairs Management (F.ICA); Fellow, Institute of Trade and Management of Nigeria (F.ITMN); Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International (PHF); Fellow, Professional Excellence Foundation of Nigeria (F.PEFON); Fellow, Institute of Management Professionals (FCIAMP); Fellow, International Association of Research Scholars & Administrator (FIARSA); Fellow, Chartered Institute of Human Capital Development of Nigeria (F.hcd); Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC); Fellow, Centre for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development (FCLED); Life Fellow, International Biographical Centre (IBC)(LFIBA); Fellow, Institute of Leadership (Assessment and Development Nigeria) (FILAD), amongst others.

Ozekhome is a member of dozens of professional associations including the International Bar Association (IBA); Counsel at the International Criminal Court, the Hague; Member, Advisory Board of International Human Rights Commission (IHRC); Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA); African Bar Association (A.B.A); Pan African Lawyer Union (PALU); American Bar Association (ABA); Body of Benchers; Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NEC); Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); Rotary International; Island Club; Usagbe Club of Nigeria; Etsako Club ’81; Amnesty International; Ambassador/Patron of the Association of Proprietors of Private Media Establishment of Nigeria (APPMEN), among others.

Prof Ozekhome has received well over 400 awards and honours locally and globally. He is an International Ambassador of Peace, honoured with the award of Global Peace-Loving Citizen of the World, (GPLCW), the highest honour given out by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). He is also UN Ambassador [Eminent Peace]. He is an honorary citizen and recipient of the keys to the City of Atlanta in the State of Georgia, USA; and the City of Dallas in the State of Texas, USA, (2002).

Some other notable awards he had garnered include the Ambassadorship of Nigeria at the World Forum in Cambridge, Oxford, England, Boston and San Francisco, USA. Ozekhome holds the Globe African Heroes Award by COGAI, in collaboration with RIM, by which award he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Pan-African heroes. He has also been inducted into the American Hall of Fame by the American Biographical Institute (ABI), USA. He was consecutively named ‘Ambassador of Nigeria’ by the World Forum Federation (WFF) for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He is “Legal Icon of Nigerian”, an award by Classic Africa Merit Award Organization. Ozekhome holds the African Legacy Award; Global Leader of Integrity Merit Award by Proven Integrity; and Ecowas Distinguished Corporate Achievers Gold Award. Ozekhome is also a recipient of other awards, including the Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe Unity Award as the “Omeziri Ndigbo 1 Na Nigeria”; the Herbert Macaulay Leadership Award; the  Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Platinum Leadership Award; the J.S. Tarka Leadership Award of Excellence as the “Warrior of Peace”; Northern Youth Council of Nigeria Leadership Award; the Distinguished Alumni Award” by the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State; the Obafemi Awolowo University Distinguished Great Ife Alumnus Award; the Northern Women Assembly (NOWA) Gambo Sawaba Award of Excellence as Icon of Peace; National Association of Oduduwa Students Merit Award as ‘Defender of Justice’; the Senior Advocate of the Year Award, by the National Crimewatch; the West African Law Students Association (WALSA)-Global Impact in the Legal Profession award as the best West African Legal Practitioner; Leadership Impact Africa award as Outstanding Constitutional Lawyer of the year and Ambassador of Human Dignity); the Enyi  Ndigbo award by Nzuko Umunna, at a Handshake Across Nigeria summit in Enugu, Honorary, Life Membership Award by the Nigeria-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCCI); Outstanding Humanitarian of Africa award in recognition of his noble service to humanity, by the International Royal Academy of the United Nations of Education, Technology, Business Art & Culture, Law & Humanity.

Others include the Distinguished Leadership Award, by Abuja Leadership Centre, University of Abuja; the Arewa Youth Council of Nigeria Award; Epitome of good leadership award of excellence and ambassador of peace by Fellowship of Christian Students; Honourary award for immense contribution to the furtherance of human rights advocacy in Nigeria by Simplex Academy Niger; Special Recognition award for love and contribution to educational development in Nigeria, by Pacesetters Schools, Abuja; Award of Honour as Icon of Peace Ambassador, by Association of Students Peace Ambassadors (ASP); Award of Honour for being the ambassador of hope to millions of vulnerable Nigerians and for selfless service to humanity in general, by Global Hope and Justice Inc; Icon of Humanitarian Service award, by the National Association of Northern Nigerian Students (ANNS); Certificate of Appreciation, by Association of Students Peace Ambassadors (ASP), Peoples Man of the Year, 2020/2021, by African, Development and Empowerment Merit Award; Global Leaders of Integrity Merit award, by Proven Integrity Communications Network Ltd; inducted into the NAN’s Hall of Fame as ‘Emissary of Global Justice’; and  also inducted into the Halls of Fame of the National Association of Polytechnics Students (ASUP); the African Students Union Parliament (ASUP); and the Nigerian Youth Parliament.

Ozekhome has also been honoured with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Award of Excellence; the African Global Integrity Award; Globe African Heroes Award; Impact Humanity Achiever Award; African Child Price Award; Lifetime Achievers in Legal Profession and Integrity Award; the Afenmai Sons and Daughters Worldwide Award of Honour; the Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) Award of Excellence; and one of the leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) by Gem Communications.

Ozekhome who was Amnesty International’s Legal Adviser for many years, has also been honoured with the awards of Business Hallmark People of the Year Award (2019); DAAR Communications of the Year Award (2021); African Watch Gold Merit Award (2017); ECOWAS Heroes Award; the Hero of Democracy; Niger Delta Excellence; Ambassador/ Patron of the Association of Proprietors of Private Media Establishment of Nigeria (APPMEN); Plaque for Justice Champion Award” by Association of Proprietors of Private Media Establishment of Nigeria (APPMEN); Senior Advocate of the Year Award” by  National Crimewatch; Legal Icon in Nigeria, by Guardian Newspapers; Icon of Peace; Icon of Societal transformation; Medal Award” International Commission on Human Rights; Most Outstanding Young Person in Nigeria, by Jaycees International (1998); the Usagbe Club of Nigeria award in recognition of his collaboration towards Afemai Infrastructural & Human Capital Development; Plaque for Justice Champion Award by Association of Proprietors of Private Media Establishment of Nigeria (APPMEN); 17th Efficiency Award for Excellence” by SB E-News- Sbevent Magazine, “Lifetime Achievement Medal Award” by SB E-News- Sbevent Magazine,  5th Convocation Lecturer Award” by Augustine University, (AUI) Ilara-Epe, Lagos State, 26th October, 2023, Most Outstanding Legal Luminary Achievement Award” by Eminent personality of the year 2023 Award- The message International, among others.

Prof Ozekhome is also a consummate author who has written many law books and various seminar articles on topical legal cum political issues including: Zoning to Unzone – The Politics of Power and the Power of Politics in Nigeria, Nigeria, We Hail Thee, Personal Property Law in Nigeria, Commercial and Economic Law in Nigeria, The Nigerian law of Evidence Book, The Doctrine of Separation of Powers, Good Governance (Volume I – II), Constitutionalism and the Constitution (Volume I – IV), among several others.

Married with children to a lawyer and gender crusader, Lady (Dr) (Chief) Josephine Mike Ozekhome, LL.B (Hons), B L., LL.M, LSM, D.Sc., Prof Mike Ozekhome, a teetotaler, is a total and complete family man who believes in deep family values and unity. He usually unwinds by being with his family; engaging in sports; swimming; music and dancing. Ozekhome also relaxes by reading; writing and engaging in hot arguments and debates. He has seven children, five of them are into law while two are medical doctors.

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