BIO DATA OF ANTHONY OKECHUKWU OJUKWU, SAN.
Mr. Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu, SAN was born to the family of Donatus and Theresa, Ojukwu, of Umueleagwa Onicha in Ezinihittee LGA of Imo State. His parents were head teachers and he had the opportunity of going to school at a very young age despite the drawback effects of the Nigerian Civil war which lasted from1967-1970. He graduated with a merit in primary school certificate in 1975 from St Dominic’s Primary School now Central School Ezi-East. He started his secondary education at Obizi High School, Ezi-East in Imo State and finished at Government College Umuahia in Abia State with a distinction in secondary school certificate in 1981. He graduated with LLB, 2nd class Hons from University of Nigeria Enugu Campus in 1985. He was called to the Nigerian Bar as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court in 1986.
Of his school days, some moments stand engraved in his memory. His late father Pa Donatus Anosike Ojukwu had talked him into the beauty of the legal profession while he was 7 years of age. His late father wanted to read law, had gotten admission to a university overseas, but could not proceed due to the civil war. He had taken young Anthony to visit one of his illustrious townsmen who was the first lawyer in the old Mbaise Division of then East Central State, Bar B.S.C Nzenwa (the Father of the present Justice Mary Peter-Odili Jsc). After admiring his picture with the wig and gown adorning the wall of his sitting room, as well as the Queens English and style of speaking during the visit, he told his father at that early stage that he wanted to be a lawyer like that big uncle. No wonder, as early as primary 2 in 1971 after the civil war, when his class members were asked to write composition on the occupation they would like to take up in life, he wrote that he would like to be a lawyer. Incidentally, when he got admission to read law at UNEC in 1981, his teacher in primary 2, who came to his father’s residence to congratulate him reminded him about the composition of 1971. This year 2021, is another reminder of the commitment to read law, made by a 7 year old boy in 1971. “Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in thy sight, we pray oh lord” they will say.
In addition to over 35 year’s legal professional experience, Mr Ojukwu obtained a Master’s Degree in Law (LLM) from University of Lagos, Akoka, in 1988 and also attended Public Administration International (PAI) London in 2003 and the international Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) Equitas, Canada 2007.
Though from a totally humble background, Mr. Ojukwu professional career has been flavored with silver linings. He has had a distinguished career in public service. After his National Youth Service with the Federal Ministry of Justice, Marina Lagos in 1987, his first appointment was as a Research Assistant to the then Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, from 1987 to 1989. It was during this first appointment that he met and served under his first mentors, Former Attorney General of Abia State, Awa U Kalu, SAN, and His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 1993, he was appointed the State Administrative Secretary/CEO of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) in Imo State where he served until 1996. The break provided by the end of the NEC assignment provided him the opportunity to meet the love of his life, Obiageli Etta Ojukwu Nee Nwabueze, a then library science graduate of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and then youth corper from Umubeele village Awka town Anambra State, around the middle of 1996. Having met his dream of an intelligent, smart and beautiful life partner, within a short period of their meeting, with the cooperation of the understanding Father-in-law, and Educationist, Mr Fidelis Nwabueze (Mr White) and Mother-in-Law, Patricia (Idiiche), they marched the aisle on 28th December 1997 at St Paul’s Catholic Church Owerri. He prosecuted failed bank cases for NDIC from 1996 to 2000. While settling down to private legal practice in the Chambers of Kayode & Co, he was called up again to serve as the Special Assistant to the former Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr Bukhari Bello, mni, MFR, from 2001 to 2006. He also served as Special Assistant (SA) to Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, SAN, in 2010 when he was former Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. Today he is the first staff of the National Human Rights Commission who rose to become the Executive Secretary of the Commission. Again he is also the first Executive Secretary of the Commission who while in office became Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.
He is a human rights activist and a committed Human Rights Defender. This was attested to by his coordination of the project on the development of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Nigeria, the current official government policy document on human rights in the country today. He has championed the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence SGBV of which he was the first to institute government quasi-judicial panels of investigation on SGBV to bring accountability to bear for violence against women. He has also championed police reforms, the fight against police brutality and impunity through birthing the 2019 white paper on SARs reforms even before the END SARS protests of 2020 and the ongoing panels of Investigation on SARs and police brutality. He is committed to improving military records on human rights and regularly visits Maiduguri to train military officers in the frontlines on how to mainstream human rights into their operations. Presently all military formations have established human rights desks .
Mr. Ojukwu’s work at the defunct National Electoral Commission contributed to the formulation of the option A4 and the Open Ballot System. He was the Secretary to the Technical Sub-Committee for the collation of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election Results. His great contribution to the overall success of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election was acknowledged by the former Chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Professor Humphrey Nwosu at Page 4 in the book “Laying the Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and the Annulment”
Furthermore, Mr. Ojukwu coordinated the Election Security Observation Projects for the UNDP and NHRC during the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 Nigeria’s general elections.
Mr. Ojukwu’s other distinguished career achievements include being the Secretary of the National Working Group on Prisons Reforms and Decongestion 2002-2005; Secretary, NHRC Panel on Demolitions and Evictions 2013-2015; Chairman, NHRC Special Investigation Panel on Military/Shiite Clash in Zaria 2015-2016; Chairman, NHRC Presidential Panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police 2018-2019, Former Director of, Executive Secretary’s office, Protection and Investigation, Monitoring, Legal Services and Enforcement, Departments of NHRC. He is also a member of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) Steering Committee as well as the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) Working Group on Ageing.
Since he mounted the saddle at the NHRC in 2018, he, established 12 additional state offices to ensure the presence of the Commission in all the 36 states of the country(though rented offices), embarked on the construction of ten prototype permanent state offices, compliant with Paris Principles, all to be completed on or before end of 2023, procured over 23 operational vehicles for investigation of complaints, commenced the digitization of the Commissions complaint treatment mechanism, enhanced staff welfare and obtained approval for 50% increment in staff protection allowance and also obtained approval of council for additional pension benefits under the Pension Reform Act 2014. It is on record that equipment and subvention to the state offices and investigation departments of the Commission have been substantially increased since his assumption of office.
Under Mr. Ojukwu, the Commission has indeed expanded and grown in leaps and bounds by pushing its mandate to the limits. Concrete efforts are being made in collaboration with parliament to resource the Human Rights Fund to further galvanize human rights activities in the country. The Commission has put into operations the Human Rights Training Institute for human rights training of staff, CSOs and Lawyers in both MDAs and the private sector. Professors and academicians of repute now spend their sabbatical leave at the Human Rights Institute all in an effort to ensure quality services to the people. His stint for intellectual work made him to grow the institute to its present enviable state.
He is an author and Editor of several publications amongst which are the following:
Having been born to the Onitcha Community in Ezinihitte LGA Imo State where he is the First Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, he is a man of culture with respect for the traditional Institution. He holds different traditional titles from different states of the Country. Most of the time, he dresses traditionally unless the occasion demands. He holds the following chieftaincy titles:
Mr. Ojukwu is a 3rd degree Knight of the Order of Knights of St Mulumba (KSM) of the Gwarimpa Sub-Council, where he is a devout catholic using his talents and treasures to serve the church and humanity. He was a onetime zonal leader of KSM Gwarimpa zone, Chairman of the Harvest Planning Committee and at different times Chairman of the Harvest and Bazaar ceremonies at the inception stages of his local church at Holy Cross Catholic Church Gwarimpa Abuja. He belongs to the pious societies of St Anthony of Padua and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. He is also a member of St Peter Igbo Catholic Community of Holy Cross Gwarimpa where he holds the title of Ochendo. Serving the church runs in the family. The late Father was crowned “The Pillar” of his local church and his Mother, Theresa Ojukwu (Nee Nwachukwu) “The Ezinne” of the church Community. His uncle, Late Rev Fr Raph Nwachukwu, was a priest of the Catholic Church of Mbaise Diocese in Imo State. As a child, he grew up spending his holidays with his uncle and was daily serving mass at the altar of God. True to his name Okechukwu.
On the 8th December 2021, he was conferred with the prestigious and privileged rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and is currently the Executive Secretary/CEO of National Human Rights Commission.
He is happily married to his amiable wife Mrs. Oby Ojukwu and they are blessed with four children.