We are assembled here to bid farewell to a brilliant Nigerian and a Jurist of enviable character, Honourable Justice Doris TomilayoOkuwobi, upon her retirement from a rich and fulfilling career.
It is Jurist such as my Lord that makes one make a case for the elongation of the term of years for High Court Judges. Honourable Justice Okuwobi is a fine example of the adage “Aging like fine wine”. She is an epitome of hard work, diligence and everything we were told a high court judge should be. Her disposition may come across as reserved and genteel, but she is fearless in the performance of her constitutionally assigned duties.
During her time at the Ministry of Justice, she was known to be an outstanding and hardworking Counsel. It was therefore no surprise that she rose from State Counsel to Solicitor General & Permanent Secretary. But one of the most intriguing things I found about Her Lordship was from the comment of one her colleagues I had the fortune of interacting with, his words were: “She took herself serious and therefore, everyone had no choice but to take her serious”. Obviously, everyone who ever came in contact with her all had the same positive opinion of her. She is nothing but a model as a legal practitioner and a model for the bench.
It was a fulfilling time for her in the Ministry of Justice, where she served as the Director, Civil Litigation and Advisory Services and rose to become the Solicitor General & Permanent Secretary. As the Solicitor General & Permanent Secretary, Her Lordship served under the then Military Administrator Brigadier General BubaMarwa(Rtd) for an extended period of time withoutan Attorney General, and was a key factor in the success of that administration.
There is a saying that the men who succeed are the efficient few who have the ambition and Will Power to develop themselves. Justice Okuwobi was one of those. She was a distinguished lawyer per excellence and combined her dedication to duty with the power to succeed and braced up to develop herself.
The list of fine judgements delivered by Justice Okuwobispeaks for itself about the dedication with which she carried on her constitutional duty while remaining conscious of the social realities. Some of those publicised judgements were upheld by the Appellate courts.
The Rule of Law is shaped on the anvil of quality judges like Justice Okuwobi who are the guardians of the constitution. She readily endeared herself to all her peers and formed lasting friendships with the bar.
The Bench in Nigeria will shortly lose a devoted judicial servant; the good fortune is that she leaves an enviable legacy, others will follow.
As she prepares to depart from this court, I have to say that the Lagos High Court will miss JusticeOkuwobi deeply. I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi who said ‘there are no good byes for us; wherever you are you will always be in our hearts’.
On behalf of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, and my Colleagues, I wish your Lordship continued sound health and deep contentment in all your future endeavours.
Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN