9th October, 2023
By Adejoke Adeleye
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that the late Chief Christopher Oladipo Ogunbanjo was an exceptional legal luminary, whose vacuum would be difficult to fill in the country be his transition.
Chris Ogunbanjo died on 7 October 2023, at the age of 99.
The Special Assistant on Media to the former President, Kehinde Akinyemi in a statement on Monday, stated that Obasanjo described the legal icon as an outstanding and foremost Nigerian Corporate Lawyer.
“On behalf of my family and on my own behalf, wish to commiserate with the entire members of the Ogunbanjo family, the Awujale of Akile Ijebu, Oba Dr Sikiru Adetona and entire people of Ijebu land and by extension of Ogun State on the transition of Chief Christopher Oladipo Ogunbanjo, who was one of the prominent and great sons of Africa.
“He was a successful captain of Industry, philanthropist and exceptionally excellent legal luminary, who I can safely called an outstanding Nigerian Corporate Lawyer.
“Only a few days ago, I remembered him at a discussion and the only name that was coming to memory was; “the Corporate lawyer” “the corporate lawyer” . Yes, he was distinguished and truly deserving of that appellation,” Obasanjo said.
In his professional life, Obasanjo explained that the late legal guru in early 1960s, was among the group of businessmen who supported local equity participation in foreign firms operating in Nigeria and was an early advocate of domiciliary accounts in Nigeria which later came to existence through the promulgation of the Foreign Currency Decree 18 of 1985.
“In all respects he was a titan and a brilliant attorney: a good man, an inspiring leader and a remarkable statesman and nationalist whose intellect, integrity, hard work and vision impacted significantly on the legal profession. It is to the eternal credit of the late Chief that he strove to carve a niche for himself in several spheres.
“His zeal and resourcefulness was without deference to his noble background. He brought prodigious energy to bear in whatever he did and it was not surprising that he became a well-established lawyer and an astute businessman of note,” he saisd.
“Chief Ogunbanjo’s name will live forever in the minds and hearts of those who experienced his warmth, generosity and guidance. His underlying commitment to education and his quiet philanthropic activities which culminated in his establishment of Chris Ogunbanjo Foundation cannot be over-emphasised.
“Having lived for 99 years, and only months to his centenary celebration, Chief Chris Ogunbanjo by any stretch of the imagination, cannot be considered to have died an untimely or premature death.
“I pray that the Almighty will grant him sweet repose and his family members the strength to bear the heavy and irreparable loss,” he added.
Chris Ogunbanjo was born on 14 December 1923, to the family of Daniel Ajayi Ogunbanjo, a catechist from Erunwon, Ijebu, Ogun State. He was educated at St Phillips Primary School, Aiyetoro, Ile-Ife before proceeding to Oduduwa College, Ife for his secondary education in 1936.
Two years later, he transferred to Igbobi College in Lagos. He began work in 1942 as a junior clerk in the Judicial Dept in Enugu and was subsequently transferred to Port Harcourt. He left the civil service in 1946 to study law at the University of London, Ogunbanjo obtained a law degree in 1949 and was called to the bar in 1950.
On his return from London, he worked briefly for the law firm of H.O. Davies before establishing his own private practice; his firm added two more partners, Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Michael Odesanya in 1952 to become Samuel, Chris and Michael Solicitors. The partnership was dissolved in 1960 and his practice became Chris Ogunbanjo & Co. The new practice specialized in corporate law.
Ogunbanjo married Hilda Ladipo in 1953. His wife was editor of AMBER, a women’s lifestyle magazine established in the 1960s but later acquired by Daily Times.