By Donu Kogbara
Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Esq, the distinguished SAN who recently passed away in London while diligently serving as the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Rivers State, wasn’t just an outstanding lawyer, consummate professional and loyal lieutenant to our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
He also happened to be a caring and charismatic son, husband, father, sibling, kinsman and friend. And all who were privileged to know him are still reeling from the shock of his premature demise.
“Chinwe”, as he was usually addressed by those who related to him informally, was a force of nature…one of those energetic, entertaining, super-clever, larger-than-life personalities who light up any room they enter and attract lots of the right kind of attention.
He was irritated by stupidity and struggled to suffer fools gladly. But he was essentially kind-hearted and extremely warm. He went out of his way to help me and many others on numerous occasions.
He had a boyish, mischievous streak, even in middle-age, and was great fun to hang out with because he was a great joke-teller.
Wit came naturally to Chinwe; and I always eagerly looked forward to seeing him because I knew that I would be doubled up with laughter within seconds of starting any conversation with him.
Then there was his serious, reflective, combative, passionately principled side. I learned a lot by listening to him. But we sometimes disagreed; and he thoroughly enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of dramatic arguments that he took delight in winning.
I once told him, when we were on different sides of a raging political debate, that his take on a particular issue was “ridiculously subjective”. And one of the last things he ever said to me was that I was far dafter than I looked and that my head was not correct!
Kenneth Kobani, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, was Chinwe’s “school son” at Federal Government College, Port Harcourt.
“Chinwe was,” says Kobani, “very protective towards me; and this protectiveness continued until he died…
“…When we went into politics, he told the late Marshall Harry, the founding Chairman of the PDP in Rivers State, that if there was one dependable person in Ogoni, that person was me. And because Marshall Harry respected Chinwe so much – Chinwe was the party’s legal advisor at that stage – he took a gamble on me and made me Sole Administrator in Ogoni in the early days of PDP.”
Oraye St. Franklyn, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Wike, is another major fan of the late great Chinwe Aguma and has this to say:
“Very few people have had the kind of remarkable impact on me that Uncle Chinwe had, given that like him, I am too often prejudged and stereotyped. To think that I met him on Facebook only a few years ago in 2014 at the peak of the last political circle is all the more striking although it feels like a lifetime…
“…Being a man of immense intellectual depth and confidence, which was often misconstrued for arrogance, it was easy to misunderstand him 100 per cent of the time, if one didn’t know ‘his real face’…
“Although old enough to father me, he called me his friend and treated me like a son. Something that I’d have to cherish for a lifetime and pass on as his legacy…
“…If there’s one man who gave me space for expression, it was Uncle Chinwe. In the last three years we were hardly ever apart, which afforded me the vantage opportunity to know him for who he truly was. He was a great man; kind and humane…
“…To say he was a workaholic, would be disingenuous. He defined what work truly was by his dedication and results. His loyalty to his State and friends was second to none. He was one man who didn’t throw his friends under the bus on the basis of political exigencies. He stood by them once and always and never minded the consequences. He was an exceptional man…
“…He’d be greatly missed but if we pick the lessons from his life, his passing won’t be as torturous as it ordinarily should be. A detribalized Nigerian professional, aptly described as a Lawyer’s Lawyer has gone to be with the Lord. He lived well. We must pick the lessons and make good of this immeasurable tragedy.”
May Chinwe Rest In Peace in the bosom of the Almighty. He is quite rightly getting a state burial; and parts of Port Harcourt will come to a standstill this weekend as mourners from all over Nigeria attend various ceremonies events in his honour.
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