Seat of Wisdom Court Opens Amidst Fanfare in Asaba
October 1 – the day Nigerians mark the anniversary of their independent nationhood – is always an occasion for both celebration and stock-taking on the journey so far. For Barrister Andrew Odum, Tuesday, October 1, 2019 was a day for joyous celebration and a heartfelt appreciation to God’s providence, as the day marked the official opening and blessing of his new law chambers in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
It was a day for his family (included his aged parents, Mr. and Mrs. George S Odum, siblings and blood relations whose elation was plainly evident on this occasion), friends, spiritual mentors, colleagues in the legal profession, associates and teeming well-wishers to celebrate yet another milestone in the life of a man whose combination of qualities, as well as his achievements so far in a relatively short span of life, are a constant source of inspiration to many.
The imposing edifice, known as Seat of Wisdom Court – which is sure to add more lustre to the emerging skyline of the Delta State capital – is a four-storey facility housing a number of offices for Partners, Associates and other support staff, as well as a cavernous library and a reception, Arbitration and Mediation rooms, Board rooms and training rooms among others, boasts a plethora of ultra-modern amenities befitting of a 21st century law firm which is set to offer innovative legal services to a diversity of clients and customers, using relevant technological and human resources to surmount the challenges – as well as maximize the opportunities – of an emerging legal marketplace that would be defined by disruptive digital technologies and forward-looking paradigms that would consign old assumptions about the nature and role of the legal profession (and especially the work of lawyers and law firms) into the proverbial trash bin.
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On entry into the premises, the visitor comes upon a grotto housing the sublime ceramic figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Seat of Wisdom) in her iconic role as Madonna, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Child and Queen of Heaven. This scene is a testimony not only to Andy Odum’s lifelong fidelity to the Catholic faith, but also his determination to subject the business model of his operations in these pristine premises to the rigours of his Christian faith and its tenets, and to his devotion to the Holy Mother, on whose mercies he would always count.
The ceremony took off in earnest with the formal opening and dedication of the premises, and supplications to the Almighty God to lay His Hand of blessing on the business that would be conducted therein, as well as on the people whose lives would be affected for the better. It was led by no other distinguished personality than the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku, the Most Reverend Dr. Michael Odogwu Elue – who led a retinue of priests to the venue in a show of support that left no one in doubt as to the church’s approval of one of its sons and what he represented.
The benediction, which also featured a recitation of Hail Marys by a group of young Catholic faithful at the grotto, was followed by a gathering of the celebrant’s family, friends, mentors and associates in the building’s library and conference room. The informal and seemingly impromptu nature of the gathering did not, however, detract from the unspoken gravitas of the occasion, as it was graced by Chief the Judge of Delta State, Hon. Justice Marshal Umukoro who presided over the opening of the office. Hon. Justice S.C. Oseji JCA was also present.
The grand ceremony was also attended by the President of the Customary Court of Appeal , Hon. Justice Stella Oghene , Judges of the Federal High Court, the State High Court, and the Customary Court of Appeal. Hon. Justice Pete Obiorah of the High Court of Anambra State was also present. Numerous notable legal practitioners also came to honour their own, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN; Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN; J.S. Okutepa, SAN; Muyiwa Akinboro, SAN; Chike Onyemenam, SAN; Ayo Asala, SAN; Amah Etuwewe, SAN; Tola Atoyebi, SAN; Alex Mouka; Joyce Oduah (Mrs); Okey Ohagba; Ikechukwu Uwanna; Lema Adebola Olarotimi; Mustapher Imam; John Austine Unachukwu; Terhemba Gbashima to name just a few were also in attendance. It was obvious that his guests have over the years enjoyed the loyalty and humble followership of the unassuming Barrister Odum, as well as many learned colleagues who came from the four corners of the country to provide a practical demonstration of the goodwill he had amassed over the years.
In his remarks of appreciation, Deacon Adesina, SAN, described the celebrant as the embodiment of commitment which, he said, was a critical but often overlooked component of leadership. He related many instances of Andrew Odum’s positive intervention, not just in the affairs of the Bar – at both branch and national levels – but even in his own (Adesina’s) affairs. Adesina reiterated that Odum’s combination of qualities need to be amplified and multiplied in a critical mass of Nigerians – without which this country has little hope of survival, let alone progress and development. He ended his remarks with a presentation of gifts to the celebrant and his organization.
In his rather emotional response, Odum paid a lengthy tribute to the many individuals who had impacted on him through the course of an eventful life-journey and legal odyssey, as well as on his role as a public servant. He ended with a special tribute to his beloved wife Ngozi Felicia Odum, without whose love and unflinching support, he said, his story would be vastly different.
The celebrant’s remarks were followed by the cutting of not one but two exquisitely-carved cakes to mark the historic occasion, as he was joined by all present in the act, which was ably supervised by Alex Muoka, the former Chairman of the Lagos Bar. The cutting of the cakes brought the gathering to a close.
Thereafter, the celebration train moved to the Sky Roof of the Golden Tulip. There, amidst more speeches and testimonies to the rare breed known as Andrew Odum by those who are privileged to have known and interacted with him on a professional and personal level over the years, attendees sampled choice wines and sumptuous delicacies in a veritable banquet designed to satisfy even the most discriminating of palates.
By common consent, it was indeed a befitting climax to a long and deeply gratifying day, when the doyens of the Bar gathered in Asaba to celebrate and honour one of their own – a man whose sense of purpose and his achievements both as a legal practitioner and a public servant, are complemented by his humility and his readiness to serve his faith, his profession and indeed his fellowman in whatever capacity he is called upon to do so.
As the characteristically well-spoken Alex Muoka put it in his closing remarks to cap the evening, it was an occasion which would not only linger long in the memory, but which should invite many more such occasions – and even greater ones – in the future.
See photos below:
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