CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER SAPARA-WILLIAMS, Nigeria’s First Lawyer
“The legal practitioner lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country.” – Sapara-Williams
Christopher Alexander Sapara-Williams was born on the 14th of July, 1855, He was born in Sierra Leone but was of Ijesha origin, He was said to have fondly referred to his native hometown as Ijesha wa meaning ‘our Ijesha’.
In 1871, he attended CMS Grammar School and later, the Wesley College, Sheffield, United Kingdom. Sapara-Williams studied law at the Inner Temple, London, United Kingdom. On the 17th of November, 1879, he was called to the English Bar thus becoming the first Nigerian lawyer.
He returned to Nigeria on the 13th of January, 1888 to start up his practice in Lagos State (then the Lagos Colony). As an advocate, Sapara-Williams clearly distinguished himself. On the 30th of August 1888, he enrolled at the Supreme Court, Lagos as the first Nigerian barrister and was the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association from 1900 to 1915.
Sapara Williams did not become solely engaged in legal practice. He also took active parts in the political events dominating as at that time under the British colonial rule.
He handled popular cases such as Cole vs Cole and the Attorney-General of Southern Nigeria vs John Holt and Company. These were some of the most celebrated cases of the time and he also practiced law in Accra, Ghana.
In politics Sapara Williams also left a remarkable foot print. During the 1914 Amalgamation 1914, he was one of the members of the Legislative Council and remained a Member of the Legislative Council from October 1901 until he died in 1915.
Christopher Alexander Sapara-Williams died on the 15th of March, 1915 and according to another Nigerian legal luminary, Pa Tunji Gomez, he was buried at the Ajele Stadium.
Late Christopher Alexander Sapara-Williams was a brilliant lawyer, jurist, advocate, legislator, politician and a powerful orator, who utilized law as a force for positive social change.
Adenike Adesanya is a Brilliant young wig who is passionate about preserving the legacy of the legal profession. Nike wishes to bring back to our memories our heroes past. Email to Nike: email@example.com
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