The story of Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, a core litigation lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is one that reflects the reward for hard work, perseverance and diligence.
Born on 18 July, 1965 into an Ibo speaking family from Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area in present day Anambra State of Nigeria, he started his educational pursuit, charting a course for himself in the legal profession at Premier Primary School, now All Saints Primary School, Onitsha, Anambra where he sat and obtained his First School leaving Certificate in 1976. He immediately proceeded to Ogbaru Boys Secondary School between 1976 and 1977 for his post primary education. He completed his secondary education at St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Awka-Etiti in Anambra State where he obtained his West African School Certificate in1981.
In 1984 he obtained an Ordinary Certificate in Business Administration at School of Accountancy and Business Studies, Uyo, Cross River State (an affiliate of Calabar Polytechnic at that time); now Uyo City Polytechnic in Akwa Ibom State. An alumnus of University of Calabar, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1990, Arthur Obi-Okafor obtained his Barrister at Law certificate in 1991, from the Nigerian Law School and was called to Bar as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by Hon. Justice Muhammed Bello, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Arthur Obi Okafor, a mentee of late Chief Dr. Chimezie Ikeazor SAN, OON (Founder, Legal Aid Scheme for the Poor in Nigeria), began his law practice in 1992 at the legal colossus’ law firm, then located at Ire village, Obosi, Anambra State, now at House 56, 41 Crescent Gwarimpa Estate II, Abuja. Under the tutelage of Chief Ikeazor, SAN, Arthur Obi Okafor, as a young Counsel was exposed to the best of litigation, practice and procedure in diverse aspects of Nigerian law. He was led by Chief Ikeazor in some of the most-celebrated cases in our law reports, such as; Chinemelu V. C O P (1995) 4 NWLR (Part 390) 467 @ 484 and Anatogu v. Iweka II (1995) 8 NWLR (pt. 415) 547 among others. Since then there has been no looking back in his quest to contribute to the development of law practice in Nigeria.
Recognizing his passion for the profession and his insatiable desire to learn, Chief Ikeazor gave Arthur Obi-Okafor an additional responsibility as his Personal Assistant, a position that further exposed him to different facets of law practice. He worked with Chief Ikeazor until 1995 when he left to establish the law firm of Arthur Obi Okafor & Associates, with its first office at 15 O’ Connor Street, American Quarters, Onitsha, Anambra State. He has since the establishment of his first law firm set up other offices at No. 2 Elochukwu Street, off Army Barracks 2nd Gate, Onitsha, Anambra State and God Is Great Arena, at 82, Okpanam Road, Off Arthur O Okafor SAN Avenue, Opposite Legislative Quarters, Okpanam Road, Asaba, Delta State.
A strong believer and product of mentorship, whose firm has produced members of the higher and lower bench, Arthur Obi-Okafor opened the doors of his firms to young lawyers who are ready to learn and has made it a veritable platform for pupilage. At present he has over eighteen (18) lawyers under his mentorship, including a Chief Administrator and four other support staff.
Arthur Obi Okafor is a litigation lawyer par excellence. With a large clientele from different walks of life, he has concluded many high profile and contentious civil and criminal litigations, cutting across diverse areas, including election petitions, land matters, receivership, company proceedings etc. at the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal and State High Courts and other superior courts of record. In furtherance of his strong belief in making justice accessible, he consistently offers his experience and expertise to indigent members of the society by handling their matters pro bono. Below are some of the celebrated cases of the Supreme Court that he participated in:
1. Onuorah v. K.R.P.C Ltd. (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 921) 393.
2. Balonwu v. Governor of Anambra State 2009 18 NWLR 13 (Pt. 1172)
3. Peter Obi v. INEC (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) 565.
4. Edward Nkwegu Okereke v. Nweze David Umahi & Ors. ALL FWLR 833. ELR/2016/44.
5. Ikechukwu v. Nwoye (2015) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1446) 367.
6. Ilobachie v. Ilobachie (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 943) 695.
7. Odedo v. I.N.E.C (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1117)554.
8.. Ejike Oguebego &Anor v. Peoples Democratic Party & Ors. (SC.37/2015) NGSC 59 unreported judgment delivered on the 29th day of January 2017.
He has also delivered scholarly papers on diverse areas of development of the legal profession and other topical issues at the Annual General Conferences of the Nigerian Bar Association and several fora of Nigerian Bar Association across the country. Some of the topics he has treated extensively include:
i. Economic Recession in Nigeria: The Legal Practitioners Survival Strategy.
ii. Understanding Appellate Practice in Nigeria.
iii. Enhancing Access to Justice Through Alternative Dispute Resolution.
iv. Enhancing Consumer Rights of Protection Under the Law, Vis-a- Vis The Impunity of Bills and Charges by Power, Network and Energy Service Providers in Nigeria… Is the Consumer Helpless?
v. Opportunity and Challenges in the Gaming Industry.
vi. Strengthening the Nigerian Legal Framework for the Effective Prosecution of Gender Based Violence.
vii. 21st Century Legal Profession and it’s Social Responsibility Paradigm.
viii. The Bar: Professional Ethics in Decline?
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Concilliators, a very active member of the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association and other professional associations with great records, Arthur Obi Okafor at various times has held the following positions:
i. Member Legal Profession Review Committee.
ii. Chairman Resource Committee of the NBA.
iii. Chairman NBA Disciplinary Committee for Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States.
iv. Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Asaba (2011 – Present);
v. Member Land Committee of Nigerian Bar Association, Onitsha Branch 2009.
vi. President University of Calabar Alumni Association, Onitsha Chapter (2003 – Present).
vii. NBA Representative on NEITI Civil Society Steering Committee;
viii. Chairman NBA Legislative Advocacy.
ix. Member, Defunct Idemili Local Govt. Town Planning Authority, Anambra State 1995.
x. Member Idemili South Local Government Town Planning Authority, Anambra State.
He was recently appointed Chairman of the Administration of Criminal Justice Reform Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. In addition to the above, Arthur Obi Okafor is also an Assessor with the Delta State Multi-Door Court House for listing Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators.
Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN is a lover of sports and has used it as an instrument in building bridges of unity across diverse divide; this is evident in the fact that he is the sole sponsor of Eastern Bar Forum Unity Football Tournament which has attracted participation among the various branches of the 9 states that make up the forum. He is the Chairman of Royal Court Academy and Royal Court Football Academy.
In April 2010, Arthur Obi Okafor was conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
He is happily married to Mrs. Chioma Okafor (nee Ikeazor), who is also a lawyer and the union is blessed with five Children.