My Lord, the Honourable, the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Benedict B. Kanyip, PhD, OFR, FNIALS, and My Lords, the Justices of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, it is with a heavy heart that I stand before your Lordships to pay tribute to one of the finest judges of this honourable court that has gone to the great beyond, the Honourable Justice E. N. N. Agbakoba.
Valedictory Court sessions, irrespective of the circumstances, are sober and solemn moments; they speak to both the transience of the privileged positions in life and the fleetingness of life itself. When it is about death, it comes with an additional feeling of sadness for an irreparable loss.
I do not have any personal notes on the late Honourable Justice Agbakoba, as I never had cause to interact with His Lordship. I have, however, read and heard a few things about his Lordship from the people who knew his Lordship personally. His lordship is fondly remembered for her kindness and soft-spoken nature.
Upon being called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985, Justice Agbakoba started his career as counsel with the Legal Aid Office in Anambra. This was after serving at the Legal Aid Council State Secretariat in Ibadan as a Youth Corper.
His Lordship rose through the legal aid office ranks to become Director of Civil Justice at the Legal Aid Council Headquarters, Abuja (now named after Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, SAN) before being appointed as Judge of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Thus, His Lordship’s entire career at the bar was spent in service to the poor and indigent members of the community. For His Lordship’s contributions to the cause of justice, specifically in providing legal aid to the poor, the law school class of 1985 honoured His Lordship with an award during their class reunion in 2022. His Lordship’s life was indeed a life well spent.
Whilst his lordship graced the hallowed halls, he lent keen his mind to justice. His lordship is positively remembered by colleagues on the bench of this honourable court as the IT-savvy judge who was always willing to volunteer her skills to help any situation, especially in the various committees she was appointed to serve.
I will not fail to take the liberty to remind us to take a moment to contemplate our own lives—our mortality, our sincerity, and our eternity. Let us see then that we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Therefore, be not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15–17). We must remain conscious of the transience of life and rely on God to “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
On behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), I commiserate with the Agbakoba family, particularly My Lord’s husband and daughter. I also extend my condolences to My Lords, the President and all the Judges of the National Industrial Court.
His Lordship’s support staff, and indeed, the entire judiciary. The NBA share in your loss, and we mourn with you. I pray that God will comfort the hearts of all members of his lordship’s family, friends, and colleagues on the bench. May the peace of God guard our hearts and minds, Amen.
I thank you all for your attention.
May it please my Lords.
Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN
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