EARLY LIFE, ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL CARRIER:
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 Igbo speaking family of 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 in 1981.
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 and was called to Bar in 1991.
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. 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:
- Onuorah v. K.R.P.C Ltd. (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 921) 393.
- Balonwu v. Governor of Anambra State 2009 18 NWLR 13 (Pt. 1172)
- Peter Obi v. INEC (2007) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1046) 565.
- Edward Nkwegu Okereke v. Nweze David Umahi & Ors. ALL FWLR 833. ELR/2016/44.
- Ikechukwu v. Nwoye (2015) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1446) 367.
- Ilobachie v. Ilobachie (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 943) 695.
- Odedo v. I.N.E.C (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1117)554.
- Ejike Oguebego & Anor v. Peoples Democratic Party & Ors. (SC.37/2015) NGSC 59 unreported judgment delivered on the 29th day of January 2017.
In April 2010, Arthur Obi Okafor was conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee.
SERVICE AND DEVOTION TO BAR AND PROFESSION:
ARTHUR OBI OKAFOR, SAN is a committed member of NBA Onitsha branch, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), member IBA, Commonwealth Lawyers Association and other professional bodies. He has served and still serves the Bar in the following capacities;
- Chairman, NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee (2017 till date)
- Member, Legal Profession Review Committee (2016-2018).
- Chairman, Resource Committee of the NBA (2015).
- Chairman NBA Disciplinary Committee for Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States (2014-2016).
- Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Asaba (2011 till date);
- Member Land Committee of Nigerian Bar Association, Onitsha Branch 2009.
- President University of Calabar Alumni Association, Onitsha Chapter (2003 till date).
- NBA Representative on NEITI Civil Society Steering Committee (2014- 2016).
- Alternate Chairman, NBA Legislative Advocacy(2014-2016).
In addition to the above, he is also an Assessor with the Delta State Multi-Door Court House for listing Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators.
The learned Silk has also delivered scholarly papers on diverse areas of development of the legal profession and other topical issues at the Annual General Conferences and several other fora of the NBA across the country. Some of the topics he has treated extensively include;
- Economic Recession in Nigeria: The Legal Practitioners Survival Strategy.
- Understanding Appellate Practice in Nigeria.
- Enhancing Access to Justice Through Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- 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?
- Opportunity and Challenges in the Gaming Industry.
- Strengthening the Nigerian Legal Framework for the Effective Prosecution of Gender Based Violence.
- 21st Century Legal Profession and it’s Social Responsibility Paradigm.
- The Bar: Professional Ethics in Decline?
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 the Eastern Bar Forum’s Unity Cup Football Tournament (which has been on since 2016) that has attracted participation from across all the branches within the 9 states that make up the forum. He is the Chairman of Royal Court Academy and Royal Court Football Academy, Asaba.
MARRIAGE & FAMILY:
He is happily married to Chioma Okafor (nee Ikeazor), who is also a lawyer and the union is blessed with five Children.