Professor Ernest Maduabuchi Ojukwu, a man, close associates call different names, “Ernest“, “Teacher“, “Prof.”, “the father of clinical legal education in Nigeria“, and the Gbaonwa-Gbaonwa Agbaonelu, of Ahaba Imenyi, Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State, was born on September 23, 1960 and hails from Ahaba Imenyi in Isuikwuato Local Government of Abia State in South East Nigeria. He attended the Methodist College Uzuakoli and Government College Umuahia. He also attended Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife where he received the Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws Degrees in 1983 and 1987 respectively.
Professor Ojukwu is the immediate past Deputy Director-General and Head of Campus of the Nigerian Law School, Augustine Nnamani Campus, Agbani Enugu. Before his appointment at the Nigerian Law School, he was Associate Professor and Dean Faculty of Law, Abia State University, Uturu from 1995-2001. He is also the President of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI Nigeria), the platform through which he has continued to achieve his dreams of promoting clinical legal & justice education and reform of legal education in Nigeria. He is Partner at the Law Firm of OFY Lawyers and Professor of Law at Madonna University.
Professor Ojukwu began his career in 1985 when he simultaneously joined the services of Abia State University as an Assistant Lecturer and began to practice Law in the chambers of Chief G. N. Atulomah. In 1988, he left to establish with his friends, a Law firm named Eleuthera Chambers. He rose to the position of Dean of the Faculty of Law in Abia State University where he served from 1995-2001.
Professor Ojukwu has also been a very active member of the Nigerian Bar Association, with a tremendous record of service at the local, regional and national levels, and has at one time or the other held the following positions:
Chairman NBA Aba Branch 1997 – 1999; Secretary NBA Aba branch 1992-93; Chairman NBA Law Reform Committee 2003 to 2004; Chairman NBA Academic Forum 2006 to 2010 & 2012-2014; Chairman NBA Editorial Committee 2006-2008; Chairman NBA Legal Education Committee 2006-2008; Chairman NBA Strategic Plan Working Group 2012; Project Director NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education (Set up the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and commenced the MCLE as the Pioneer Director) 2006 to 2010; and 2012- 2014; Alternate Chairman 2003 NBA Annual Conference Planning Committee; Alternate Chairman/Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board Nigerian Bar Journal, October 2002 to 2004; Alternate Chairman NBA Summit on the future of legal education in Nigeria 2006; Member NBA Special National Committee on Abuse of Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers, 1998 to 2000; Member, Joint working committee of the NBA & CLEAN on continuing legal education for practicing members of the legal profession August 1999 to 2000; Sole Member, NBA Standing Sub Committee to investigate complaints against legal practitioners October 1999; Member NBA Legal Education Committee, 2002 to 2004; Member Steering Committee of HURILAWS-NBA National Action Plan for justice sector reform in Nigeria, 2002; Member 2002 NBA Annual Conference Planning Committee; Member NBA Practicing fee, stamp and seal committee, Jan 2003 to 2004; Member NBA Committee on the state of the NBA, March 2005; Member NBA Special Committee on the Review of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2006/07; Member NBA Working Group on the Review of the Legal Practitioners’ Act and Council of Legal Education Act, 2011; and Pioneer Chairman/Founder NBA Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) 2004-2011.
He has also been a member of many other NBA Committees since 1999 and in the various positions he held and committees he served, he has exciting achievements to present.
As Chairman of NBA Law Reform Committee, he produced a new Legal Practitioners Act in 2004 under President Wole Olanipekun, SAN.
In 2006, the NBA under President Olisa Agbakoba SAN requested an amendment in place of a completely new Act and Professor Ojukwu submitted an amended Legal Practitioners Act which then was submitted to the National Assembly.
In 2011, the NBA under President JB Daudu SAN set up a new Committee to draft a new Legal Practitioners Act. Professor Ojukwuproduced a new draft for the Committee and that draft is currently pending before the National Assembly today.
In addition to the Legal Practitioners Act, Professor Ojukwu also submitted to the Bar draft bills on Legal Education and Legal Services Commission. This is also presently before the National Assembly.
Professor Ojukwu is currently a member of the recently inaugurated NBA LEGAL PROFESSION REGULATION REVIEW COMMITTEE and the Chairman of its sub-committee- THE FUTURE OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION.
Professor Ojukwu has published extensively. He is co-author of “Introduction to Civil Procedure”, a quality and leading material on Civil Litigation for Law School Students in Nigeria as well Legal Practitioners, Editor-in-Chief of the “African Journal of Clinical Legal Education and Access to Justice“, “Abia State University Law Journal” (1995-2000), Nigerian Law and Practice Journal (2006-2013), & Editor-In-Chief “Nigerian Bar Journal” (2002-2004 & 2006-2008). He is also a leading vanguard in pioneering the development of clinical legal education in Nigeria and is the President of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI Nigeria) which serves to promote clinical legal education and reform of legal education in Nigeria.
He is Principal Co-Author of the following clinical Legal Education books: “Clinical Legal Education: Curriculum Lessons & Materials”,Handbook on Prison Pre-Trial Detainee Law Clinic”, “Manual on Prison Pre-Trial Detainee Law Clinic”, “Impact Assessment of Clinical Legal Education in Nigeria”, “Externship Students Handbook”, and “Externship Handbook for Supervisors”. He is the National Representative of Nigeria in the Brown-Morsten International Client Consultation Competition.
Professor Ojukwu was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the highest professional rank available for legal practitioners in Nigeria in 2014. He was sworn in on Monday 22nd September 2014, by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar.
Professor Ojukwu interest as a scholar includes the subjects of Continuing Legal Education, Civil Litigation and Access to Justice.
He drafted the Nigerian Bar Association CLE Rules and set up the Institute of Continuing Legal education in 2007. He has also continued to play a very active role in the professional activities of the Nigerian Bar Association where he once served as the Chairman, Aba Branch of the Association, Chair of the Law Reform Committee, the Academic Forum and Legal Education Committee.
Professor Ojukwu has conducted many training programmes and workshops for the practicing lawyers, law teachers, and law students. He has attended and presented papers at several International conferences on legal education such as the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) conferences at Cordoba Argentina 2006, Philippines 2008, Valencia Spain 2011 and New Delhi India 2013; speaker at the IBA’s (International Bar Association) conference at Chicago 2006 and Boston 2013; the Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE) conference Perth Australia 2009 and Griffiths 2013; Externship 6 Conference Boston 2012; Harvard Law School Global Legal Education Forum 2012; and Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Clinical Legal Education Conference Puerto Rico 2013.
Professor Ojukwu is a humble, unassuming, distinguished living legend and icon of the legal profession. He represents many things to many people-both friends and foe, within and outside Nigeria, but everyone agrees that he is a teacher, mentor, renowned advocate, great thinker, eminent scholar, administrator, and everything hard work and integrity personified.
Professor Ojukwu is married to Hon Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court and the marriage is blessed with five children.