HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE AYO GABRIEL IRIKEFE: OFR; CON; GCON. (1922-1996)
He was born on March 3, 1922 at IKORODU, Lagos State. He had his early Education at the CMS Anglican School Okitipupa, between 1929 & 1930; St Johns and St Matthews Catholic School, Okitipupa and Ode Ondo from 1930 – 31 and 1932 – 36 respectively. He then moved over to St Gregory’s College, Lagos from 1937 – 41.
Like many young men of his time, he moved on to the College of Marine Engineering and Telecommunications, Manchester, UK in 1945 -46 and later between 1949 -52 pursued Legal Education which led to his being called to the Middle Temple Inn. He enrolled as Solicitor and Advocate, Supreme Court of Nigeria and engaged in private practice in Warri until he was appointed Crown Counsel, defunct Western Nigeria, 1955. He later returned to Private Practice. He was appointed leading Counsel on the Probe Panel into “Owegbe Cult” in 1965. The recommendations of the committee led to the proscription of the “Owegbe Cult” ; in 1956 was awarded a red bag by Miss rose heilbron of the high court of England; He was appointed Attorney-General and later Judge of the Mid-Western Nigeria High Court on June 1, 1966. He was First Chairman of the Robbery and Fire Arms Tribunal of that State until his call to Higher Office as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in September 1972; Appointed Chairman, Panel on Creation of States, August 1975; Chairman, Crude Oil Sales Tribunal.
He rose to the Peak of his Career with his appointment as Chief Justice of the Federation from 1985 until he retired in March 3, 1987.
He was given the following NATIONAL HONOURS – OFR (1976), CON (1981) AND GCON (1990).
He was a First Class Advocate and a Master of the Art of Advocacy. In addition to his sound decisions as a Justice of the Supreme Court and good Leadership as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe will forever be remembered as the Architect of the 19 States Structure then constituting the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His last Public Assignment in1988, led to the lifting of the ban on Nigeria by FIFA.
HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE AYO GABRIEL IRIKEFE died on the 1st of august 1996 at the age of 74.