By Dike Nwachinemelu
The life of every great man usually has many parts, just like the proverbial elephant who different blind men described from perspectives.
Such was the life of ‘My Lord’ Justice Innocent Umezulike, a man whose humble background attracted God’s blessing that was transmitted to different people who crossed his paths in the 64 years he lived on earth.
He was the second child of the five children of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Umezulike Unegbu of Uhukagbo kindred of Ifite-Mgbidi, Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Justice Innocent Umezulike was a legal luminary, a Professor of law and a Chief Judge per excellence.
As a teacher of law, his students found his authority in Conveyancing and Adverse Possession as a stamp of knowledge. As a professor in Land and Property Law, Umezulike wrote 23 books.
Called to the Nigeria Bar in 1980 and he was just a golden fish with no hiding place. Professor Umezulike was appointed Chief Judge of Enugu State after his 11 years magnetic performance on the Bench.
After a short while, the Nigerian government honoured him with the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR). The Chartered Institute of Arbitrator also awarded him a Fellow (FCIArb), due to his legal exploits.
Apart from being the Chief Judge of Enugu State for over 13 years, Justice Umezulike would be remembered for receiving over 100 distinguished legal awards for excellence in service as a distinguished Judge of Enugu State High Court for over 23 years.
He was appointed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to serve at the Supreme Court of Gambia in 1997, just as he was also found credible enough to be the Chairman of Failed Banks Tribunal Zone 6 Nigeria in 1998.
Among his numerous accomplished tasks included his chairmanship of the Visitation Panel to Enugu State University of Science and Technology; Chairman, Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Land Distribution and Allocation in Enugu State; Chairman, Judicial Inquiry on Adoration Ground Tragedy.
Professor Umezulike was made Chairman, Judicial Service Commission (JSC); Chairman, Comprehensive Judicial Inquiry on Land distribution in Enugu State; Sub-Dean Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and a Visiting Professor of Property Law, Ebonyi State University. Professor Umezulike was again a visiting Professor of Property Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology; Secretary, National Committee for the Unification of Criminal Laws of Northern and Southern Nigeria; Secretary Ministerial Committee for the Revision of the Land Use Act; Senior Special Adviser to the Attorney General of Federation of Nigeria.
He was a Distinguished Senior Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Television Authority. The legal icon accomplished other tasks as Secretary, Task Force on Company Incorporated by Guarantee in Nigeria; National Leader, Nigerian Delegation to African Legal Consultative Assembly held in Kampala, Uganda.
Umezulike, as a father would be missed by his family in which he stood robust, strong, gallant and unshakable like an Iroko tree. He lived for the family, unapologetically, unwavering in his convictions, determined in his chosen path and enjoyed life to the fullest. He loved beyond words that his children pray to fill the wide vaccum his exit has created.
Professor Innocent Umezulike, who passed on in a private London hospital in June will take a final bow on September 28, 2018, at his country home, Mgbidi, Enugu State after a Night of Tributes at Enugu Sports Club on September 24, 2018. Service of Songs would hold on September 25, 2018, while Commendation Service on would take place on September 26, 2018, and a Valedictory Court session at the Enugu State High Court would hold on September 27. Adieu quintessential jusrisperitus.
- Nwachinemelu, a lawyer, is based in Enugu