Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke, a retired Chief Judge of the High Court of Lagos State, has been honoured with an honorary PhD. degree by the Lagos State University, Ojo (LASU).
The Ph.D. award was in recognition of her impeccable character, integrity, and sterling contributions to the body of knowledge on Jurispudence in Nigeria.
Hon. Justice (Dr.) Opeyemi Olufunmilayo Oke is a retired Chief Judge of the High Court of Lagos State. She was born on the 10th day of June 1954. She attended Fiwasaye Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Akure, Ondo State and Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo. She graduated from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1978 and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1979. She has a master’s degree of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Coppin State College, Baltimore, State of Maryland, USA in 1982 with a First-Class Honours.
She worked as a Junior Partner in the Law Firm of Otesanya & Otesanya in 1979. From 1982 – 1986, she worked as a Legal Officer with Federal Housing Authority, FESTAC Town, Lagos and later joined the Lagos State Judiciary as a Senior Magistrate in May 1986. She was a Magistrate for ten (10) years and rose to Chief Magistrate (Administration) and held the post of Deputy Chief Registrar. She was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Lagos State in July 1996.
A Hubert Humphrey Fellow of the American University (Washington D.C) – Full Bright Scholar specializing in Judicial Reform, Conflict Management and Social Justice. She has a Certificate in Negotiation from Harvard Law School, U.S.A. She is a U.K Center for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) Accredited Mediator. She is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (FCIArb). She is a Fellow of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (FCJEI) and a Fellow of the Institute of Criminology and Penology (FICP). She was an External Examiner with the Nigerian Law School for about ten years.
She was the first Chairman of the Governing Council of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse, the first Court Connected Alternative Dispute Resolution Center in Africa from 2008-2014. Chairman of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules Review Committee from 2000 – 2012 and Head of Fast Track Division of the High Court from 2004-2008 and from 2012 – 2014.
She was the Administrative Judge of the Lagos Judicial Division of the High Court of Lagos State from 2014 – 2017.
On 25th September 2017, she was appointed the Acting Chief Judge of Lagos State and was subsequently sworn in as the substantive Chief Judge of Lagos State on the 20th day of October 2017 as the 16th Chief Judge and the 6th female Chief Judge of Lagos State.
In twenty (20) months in office as the Honourable Chief Judge of Lagos, she made landmark achievements which were recognized as first of its kind in Nigeria like:
- The establishment of first Small Claims Court in Nigeria aimed at achieving simplicity and allow semi – literate citizens to access the Court for redress. This Court was one of the key indicators used by the World Bank to rank Nigeria in ease of doing business. The Small Claims Court Practice Direction was translated into different local languages namely: Pidgin English, Yoruba, Egun, Hausa and Ibo to enable Court users understand the small claims procedure.
- The creation of Restorative Justice Centres which assist in Prison decongestion through alternative sentences for offenders and to ensure their rehabilitation and restoration back into society. This is first of its kind in Nigeria.
- The establishment of the Senior Citizens Help Centres in Lagos and Ikeja Judicial Divisions to help create legal access to senior citizens aged 60 and above.
- The creation of special offences courts to tackle cases of corruption, economic and financial crimes and Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Courts for cases of rape and sexual assault.
- The Backlog Elimination Programme (BEP) which was aimed at getting rid of old cases speedily through mediation. This programme was done in collaboration with some law firms and the Lagos Court of Arbitration.
She facilitated the amendment of High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2012 Rules to ensure efficient dispensation of justice. The new rules were signed and launched on 31st January 2019. She also formulated policies that rid the Lagos State Judiciary of corruption. She also strived hard to make the Lagos State Judiciary a force to be reckoned with not only in Nigeria but internationally.
A Member of the World Jurist Association, International Association of Women Judges, National Association of Women Judges, Life member of the Commonwealth Association of Magistrates and Judges. Honorary Member of the Rotary International and Honorary Member of the Linn County Bar Association, Ashland, Oregon, U.S.A.
She has delivered so many papers and lectures, amongst which are:
- ‘’Fair Hearing: Law and Practice in the Customary Courts’’ delivered at the training workshop for Customary Courts Presidents and Members in Lagos State.
- ‘’Administration of Justice in Nigeria: The Role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)’’ delivered at the 5th Anniversary of Equity Law Firm of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, Ojo on 25th January 2005.
- “The need for total independence of the Judiciary” delivered at the World Jurist Conference in Canada on 13th September 2006.
- “Legal Education in Conflict Resolution: How can the Legal Profession best train Lawyers, Judges and Policy makers to enhance conflict resolution process?” delivered at the World Jurist Association Conference, Vienna & St Margarethan, Austria on 21st – 25th October 2009.
- “Civil Procedure and Processes: A look at the High Court Rules 2004” delivered at the training workshop for newly appointed Judges in Lagos State Judiciary on 25th February 2011.
- “Alternative Dispute Resolution and Multi Door Court” delivered at the School of Law and Security Studies, Babcock University, Ogun State on 3rd March 2011.
- “LEADERSHIP: A Distinctive skill of every Hubert Humphrey Fellow” delivered at the Inaugural Hubert Humphrey Fellow Lecture Series by the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association on 5th April 2019.
- ‘’Giving back for Global Impact’’ at the Fiwasaye Old Girl’s Association (FOGA) 2019 National Convention and Fund-Raising Dinner on 27th April 2019.
She has the following publications to her credit:
- “Juvenile Deliquency: A step up the Ladder to Criminal Behaviour.” Thesis submitted for Master of Science Degree- Coppin State College, Baltimore, State of Maryland, U.S.A., 1982.
- “Bringing Parties to Settlement: The Role of the ADR Judge”. By Hon. Justice Opeyemi O. Oke. A chapter in the Book: Principles of Negotiation and Mediation. Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 2012. Edited by Epiphany Azinge, Chinyere Ani.
- “ADR in the Nigerian Legal System: Past, Present and Future” by Hon. Justice Opeyemi O. Oke. A chapter in the book LAW AND ITS LEEWAY. Essays in Honour of Emeritus Prof. I.O. Agbede. Published by Gem Communications Resources 2012.
- Commentary on the Role of Law in Society in Voice of Law and Social Change Vol. 2 by Chief Wole Olanipekun OFR.
- Legal Education in Conflict Resolution: How can The Legal Profession best train Lawyers, Judges and Policy Makers to Enhance Conflict Resolution Processes: Pages 217 – 244. A Chapter in the book titled Integrity in the Temple of Justice; Publishers: Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. 2014 Editors: Prof. Epiphany Azinge and Laura Ani.
She has received several awards amongst which are:
- CITIZENSHIP AND LEADERSHIP CERTIFICATE OF MERIT AND DISTINCTION BY MAN ‘O’ WAR CLUB (1978).
- SCHOLARSHIP AWARD FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, FOR THE BEST AND OUTSTANDING STUDENT IN THE GRADUATE SCHOOL (1981). FIRST CLASS DISTINCTION.
- VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD BY THE PAROLE AND PROBATION DEPARTMENT OF MARYLAND STATE, U.S.A (1981).
- CIRCULUS SCHOLARUM MERIT AWARD: (SOCIETY OF SCHOLARS) – STATE OF MARYLAND, U.S.A. (1982).
- MERIT AWARD FOR SERVICE BY THE ROTARACT CLUB OF SURULERE (1990).
- MERIT AWARD FOR SERVICE BY THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY (2003).
- AWARD FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO THE LAGOS MULTI-DOOR COURT GOVERNING COUNCIL 2008-2011 AND AS A SUPERVISORY JUDGE.
- MERIT AWARD AS CHAIRMAN LAGOS MULTI-DOOR COURT LAW REVIEW AND IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE. 2012
- MERIT AWARD FOR QUALITY LEADERSHIP AS CHAIRMAN GOVERNING COUNCIL, LAGOS MULTI-DOOR COURT. 2012
- MERIT AWARD FOR SERVICE BY THE HUBERT H. HUMPHREY FELLOWSHIP ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, NIGERIA. NOVEMBER 2015.
- SECOND OVERALL BEST AND WINNER OF THE JUDGE BOLA AJIBOLA PRIZE FOR THE SECOND-BEST POSITION FOR MARCH 17, 2016 AWARD WINNING ASSIGNMENT OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ARBITRATORS.
- MERIT AWARD PRESENTED BY THE LAGOS STATE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE STEERING COMMITTEE. JANUARY 2018.
- MERIT AWARD PRESENTED BY THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF TAXATION (C.I.T.N). JANUARY 2018.
- MERIT AWARD PRESENTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, LAGOS MINISTRY OF JUSTICE. JANUARY 2018.
- DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD PRESENTED BY THE HUBERT HUMPHREY FELLOWSHIP ALUMNI ASSOCIATION (HHHFAA). JANUARY 2018.
- MERIT AWARD BY THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY IN RECOGNITION OF COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN LAGOS STATE. FEBRUARY 2018.
- MERIT AWARD BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, IKORODU BRANCH. APRIL 2018.
- MERIT AWARD OF EXCELLENCE IN LEADERSHIP BY THE HONOURABLE JUDGES OF THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY. JULY 2018.
- MERIT AWARD BY US GOVERNMENT EXCHANGE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION FOR OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP IN PROMOTING MEASURES TO STEM DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE FOR IMPROVING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN LAGOS STATE – DECEMBER 2018.
- HONOUR AWARD BY THE CHRISTIAN LAWYERS FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA (CLASFON) LAGOS SUB-REGION IN RECOGNITION OF THE TREMENDOUS CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS THE ADVANCEMENT OF JUSTICE IN NIGERIA. JANUARY 2019
- MERIT AWARD BY THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF ARBITRATORS NIGERIA BRANCH IN RECOGNITION AND APPRECIATION OF VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION AND THE PIONEER ROLE OF THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY IN THE PROMOTION AND GROWTH OF ADR IN NIGERIA – MARCH 2019.
- MERIT AWARD BY THE PRESIDENTIAL ENABLING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL (PEBEC) FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF NIGERIA’S WORLD BANK 2019 DOING BUSINESS (DB) RANKING FOR ENFORCING CONTRACTS THROUGH THE CREATION OF THE SMALL CLAIMS COURTS WHICH IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN NIGERIA. APRIL 2019.
- MERIT AWARD BY THE HUBERT HUMPHREY FELLOWSHIP ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AT THE 1ST HUBERT HUMPHREY FELLOW LECTURE SERIES. APRIL 2019.
- DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD BY THE OLIVET BAPTIST HIGH SCHOOL, OLIVET HEIGHTS, OYO NATIONAL OLD STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION – MAY 2019
- HONOURIFIC AWARD OF “PILLAR OF LIGHT” BY THE METHODIST CHURCH OF NIGERIA, DIOCESE OF REMO, OGUN STATE – MAY 2019.
- AWARD OF RECOGNITION BY THE INSTITUTE OF CRIMINOLOGY AND PENOLOGY NIGERIA – JUNE 2019.
- AWARD OF HONOURARY DOCTOR OF HONOURARY DOCTOR OF LAW (CIVIL PROCESSES IMPROVEMENT SCHEME AND PROBATE REGISTRY CUSTOMIZATION) (LL. D) BY THE LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY – DECEMBER 2020.
She is presently the Principal Consultant of BENCHMARK JURIS CONSULT and the Chief Executive Officer of BENCHMARK IDEAS, an entertainment and movie production outfit.
On 15th November 2019, a biography titled “OPEYEMI OKE: A BENCHMARK ON THE BENCH” was launched in her honour. The book was written by Prof. Chidi Oguamanam, a Professor of Law at University of Ottawa, Canada. The book also captured her time as a student of Fiwasaye Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Akure, Ondo State.
She is a devout Christian and loves charity work. She adopted an orphanage called Optimum Children’s Home and a home for the blind called Bethesda School for the Blind. She is blessed with children and grandchildren. She also impacted many lives by having many adopted children. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, music, aerobics, acting, scriptwriting, and motivational speaking.
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