HomeFallen Legal HeroesFormer Chairman Body of Benchers, Uwechue Passes On

Former Chairman Body of Benchers, Uwechue Passes On

Date:

A former Chairman of Nigeria’s Body of Benchers, Chief George Uwechue (SAN, FNIALS) is dead.

Report has it  that Chief Uwechue died yesterday afternoon after a courageous battle with an ailment.

A highly decorated and much-loved senior lawyer known for his candour and integrity, Uwechue is also a longstanding traditional Prime Minister (Owelle) of Ogwashi Uku, Delta State.

He attended the Middle Temple, Inns of Court School of Law, London between 1961 and 1965 and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1966 after attending the Nigerian Law School (the last set to undertake the 3-months programme). He has been a lawyer for nearly 60 years.

Born George Nwokocha-Ona Uwechue, the legal luminary was once described by the pre-eminent constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN NNOM) as a leading jurist whose brilliance shone early in life. Speaking in Lagos at the launch of a collection of essays (Law in Motion: Nurturing Democracy and Development – Essays in Honour of Chief George Uwechue (SAN), Nwabueze recalled that Uwechue was one of the first set of students he taught at the University of London in the 1960s, saying: “Something that marked George out – I hope I can say this without causing offence to his classmates – he was simply the best! It is not surprising to me that he distinguished himself in the legal profession.”

Elevated to the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1993, Uwechue has been a member of the Inner Bar for 30 unbroken years. Appointed a Member of the Body of Benchers in 1990, he has been a Life Bencher since 1998.

The senior lawyer was elected Chairman of the Body of Benchers in 2010 and elected a member of the Elders Committee of the Body of Benchers in 2011. It is believed that the “Elders Committee” was his brainchild, being a vehicle for resolving thorny issues affecting leading members of the legal profession.

Aside from leading the legal profession as Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Uwechue also had the uncommon distinction of leading Nigeria’s House of Representatives, having been elected as Speaker (Pro Tempore) on February 23, 1983.

Recall that former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had felicitated with Uwechue on his 82nd birthday in 2020, describing him as a legal luminary “whose antecedents continue to inspire many in nation-building, particularly in law, leadership and development issues.”

He described Uwechue as a statesman “who in spite of his national and global achievements, has steadily remained relevant in community development, setting up structures and creating opportunities for others to rise in life.” He also commended Uwechue for his contributions to national development through legal practice and law-making, having gained prominence as a two-term member of the House of Representatives and Speaker pro tempore.

Below is an exclusive profile of the deceased legal giant fondly called “OWELLE THE LAW” made available to CITY LAWYER.

BRIEF PROFILE Of OWELLE GEORGE UWECHUE (SAN) FNIALS

1. Name in Full: GEORGE NWOKOCHA-ONA UWECHUE

2. Home Place: Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South, Delta State

3. Religion: Christian (Catholic)

4. School, Colleges/Institutions attended with dates

(i) St. Peter’s School, Ogwashi-Uku 1943-47

(ii) St. Thomas’ School, Kano 1948-51

(iii) St. John’s College (now Rimi College) Kaduna 1952-57

(iv) Middle Temple, Inns of Court School of Law,
London 1961-65

(v) North-Western Polytechnic, London 1961-62

(vi) The London School of Economics and Political
Science (University of London) 1962-65

(vii) The Nigerian Law School, September to December 1965
(The last three months set)

5) Professional Appointments

(i) LL.B 2nd class Hons (London) 1965

(ii) Called to the Bar 1966

(iii) Appointed Notary Pubic 1975
(iv) Moderator (External examiner) in Commercial Law,
Nigerian Law School 1975-79
(v) Appointed Member Body of Benchers 1990

(vi) Elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria 1993

(vii) Appointed Member of the Rules of Court Advisory
Committee of the Supreme Court, by Bello, CJN 1995

(viii) Re-Appointed by Uwais, CJN 1996

(ix) Appointed Life Member, Body of Benchers 1998

(x) Conferred with Fellowship, Nigerian Institute
of Advanced Legal Studies on 31st May, 2006

(xi) Elected Vice-Chairman, Body of Benchers 2009

(xii) Elected Chairman, Body of Benchers 2010

(xiii) Elected Member, Elders Committee, 2011
Body of Benchers

(xiv) Awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the
Body of Benchers in recognition of his Selfless
Service as Chairman Body of Benchers, 2010 2019

6. Political Experience

(i) Elected into the House of Representatives of Nigeria. 1979

(ii) Deputy Leader, Nigerian Peoples Party
Parliamentary Forum. to

(iii) Chairman, Committee on Public Petitions and Member Committee
on Judiciary 1983

(iv) Elected Speaker (Pro Tempore) House of Representatives.
On 23rd February 1983

(v) Led the Nigerian Parliamentary Delegation to the U.K.,
United States and Canada in 1980.

(vi) As Leader of the Nigerian Parliamentary Delegation to the
United Nations Parliamentary Forum of “Speakers” in New York in
September/October 1981, chaired one of the three sessions as Speaker.

(vii) Re-Elected to the House of Representatives on the platform of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) September to December 1983

(viii) Member, Committee on Petroleum and Energy, House of
Representatives October-December, 1983, when the military
intervention terminated the Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s administration

7. Few Monographs/Papers

(i) Legal Monographs on Immigration Act, 1963, Exchange Control Act, 1962, Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decrees, 1972, 1974, Industrial Inspectorate Decree 1970, Securities, & Exchange Commission Decrees, 1979, 1988.

(ii) The Role of Public Petitions in the Legislative Process (a pamphlet delivered at the Inaugural Session of the Committee on Public Petitions, House of Representatives in the 3rd Republic on 5th August, 1993)

(iii) Redress of Grievances through legislative petitions Committees and other Non-Judicial Processes – presented at the 1982 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Journal.

(iv) Original and Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (Published in “JURISPRUDENCE OF JURISDICTION”, 2005).

(v) Annual Lectures on Criminal and Civil Appeals Procedure to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos (2000-2011).

(vi) A Vibrant Judiciary, Veritable Agent for Enduring Democracy in Nigeria delivered as guest speaker at the 2nd Anthony Cardinal Okojie Annual Lecture, 2009.

(vii) A summary of corrupt practices and money laundering laws in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

(viii) The Law on International Carriage by Air (Judicial Interpretation and Application and Brief Review of Other Related legislations in Nigeria) August, 2005.

8. Few other Awards

(i) An award of Excellence by the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association to mark his appointment as Chairman, Body of Benchers.

(ii) An award of Excellence by His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okojie, Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos, 2009

(iii) Diamond Jubilee Merit Award from the Old Boys’ Association of Rimi (St John’s) College, Kaduna, 2009 and a second merit award by the Principal, the students and Old boys of the College (of which he was Senior Prefect in 1957) to mark his appointment as Chairman, Body of Benchers in 2010

(iv) An award of Excellence by the Lagos branch of the National Association of Catholic Lawyers in 2010

(v) An award of Excellence from the Asaba Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2010

(vi) Recognition by the Ogwashi-Uku Development Union (ODU) Lagos in 1994, to mark his elevation as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1993

9. Law in Motion

In November 2013, 35 Professors of law, published “LAW IN MOTION, NURTURING DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT, Essays in Honour of Chief George Uwechue (SAN, FNIALS) (The Owelle of Ogwashi-Uku), Edited by Prof. M.O.U. Gasiokwu”.

10. Honour by Home State – Delta State Government

The Delta State Government honoured him by naming the street beside the new General Hospital, Phase IV, Core Area Asaba: “Hon. George Uwechue (SAN) Street”, in recognition of his achievements in politics and the legal profession.

11. Traditional Title

Honoured with the title Owelle Osowa-Anya of Ogwashi-Uku 1984; the greeting: Owelle -The Law

12. Family

Widower to late Barrister (Mrs.) Justina Uwechue (Nee Osaka), with six children, namely: Barr (Mrs.) Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo, Barr. (Mrs) Ifeoma Uwechue-Wachuku, Barr. George Uwechue (Jr), Mrs. Nwamaka Omole, Mr. Kwentor Uwechue and Dr. (Mrs.) Gabriella Nwobu. Blessed with fourteen grand-children.

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