A Family Story about the Life of a Judge

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Hon. Justice Adolphus Godwin Karibi-Whyte was one of the foremost judicial titans ever to tread the Nigerian judicial universe. Justice Adolphus Godwin Karibi-Whyte was born in a small town called Abonnema on January 29th 1931, he was the first son of about three boys and seven girls, he was the only son of his mother, he was also a very good footballer, and he was a brilliant student. He attended his secondary school at Kalabari National college in a town called bug una in Rivers state, Nigeria.

Thereafter he got his west African school certificate. After this he moved to Lagos to work in the civil service from 1950 to 1956. Later on his father decided to send him to the, United Kingdom to study law. He enrolled in the university of Hull, in 1957 where he obtained LL.B Degree, Upper Division in 1960. He was called to the Bar in the Middle Temple a year afterwards, and in September, 1962, obtained his Legume Magister Degree in the University of London, and also Ph.D at the University of Lagos in 1970, He then came back to Nigeria in the late 1960s to the university of Lagos where he lectured and left as a professor of law before joining the bench (judiciary) in 1976.

He then worked at the Supreme Court in Nigeria as a Judge, which gave him the name he has now the Supreme Court is the highest court in the country, it’s the last court you go to after all your appeals fail. Normally a court process starts from the high court, if you are not satisfied with the judgement you then go to the Supreme Court which is the final court meaning what so ever decision they have is final. The Supreme Court in Nigeria is located in Abuja which is the capital of Nigeria

He was the first associate professor in the university of Lagos, then appointed a judge in the federal High Court Lagos Nigeria In 1976, in 1980 he was elevated to the federal court of Appeal, in 1982 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He later was appointed a judge to the United Nations International Criminal Court of justice for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands in 1994, where he eventually became the presiding judge. While he was at The Hague he was appointed chairman of the constitutional conference in Nigeria, a body charged with the duty of reviewing and amending our constitution. This was in 1996. A job he did very well and returned to The Hague. He finally retired from The Hague in 1999 at the expiration of his tenure and returned to the Nigerian Supreme Court where he finally retired in 2002. He has since been on the boards of several companies and also a life bencher.

He now lives in Port-harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria In retirement. Due to the things he has done in the past for his country, the Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi decided to make a hospital in his name to show appreciation for his work which ended up not working out after being half way through the building. Eventually the Rivers State Government says the multi-million dollar Karibi-Whyte Hospital project will not be abandoned.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, made this declaration while speaking to newsmen in his office in Port Harcourt. Dr Parker, who was giving a situation report on the Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital explained that the construction of the hospital was stalled at the moment due to the controversy between the government and the contractor handling the project. He said the state government had already brought in “arbitrator, a consultant who is taking inventory of the site to confirm whose claims are right and to ascertain if the mobilization they were given was actually used”.

He further said, “it’s a big establishment and so we can’t wait until a huge mistake made before we look into it. At every point in time, we review it and go ahead, that is what is happening”. He explained that the project is “priority” that must be completed in spite of financial challenges, adding that, “the project should be a forerunner of healthcare delivery in Nigeria”. “We want to see how we can surpress the ernomous traffic for Medicare out of Nigeria. That’s the intention behind that project and it’s still very much with us”, he said . Hon. Justice Adolphus Godwin Karibi-Whyte, one of the foremost judicial titans ever to tread Nigerian judicial universe clocks 70 on 29th January, 2002. By virtue of S 291 (i) of 1999 constitution, he therefore retires from the Supreme Court. The Bar, the Bench and the entire oppressed masses all of who have benefited and will continue to benefit from this rare breed of a judge must be made to understand the quintessence of this jurist.

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A family story about the life of a judge. (2021, Oct 13). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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