TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ACADEMIC BACKGROUND?
I am Ikedi Agunkwu, Esq. I am a Legal Practitioner and a Writer based in Owerri, Imo State,Nigeria. I hail from Umuechem, Okporo in the Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State of Nigeria. I did my Primary School Education at Central Primary School, Numan, Adamawa State, Nigeria and my Secondary Education at Green Uzo Comprehensive College, Ihioma, Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria and Commonwealth Comprehensive College, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, respectively. I studied Law in the prestigious University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria, and graduated in 2008.
I proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus in 2008/2009 Session, and was successfully Called to the Nigerian Bar on the 3rd day of November, 2009. During my one year professional training at the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus, I did my mandatory Chambers Attachment in the Law Firm of Vin Onyeka Chambers in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria, and Court Attachment at High Court 6, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, before his Lordship, Hon. Justice C.M.I. Egole, of blessed memory. I am a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I did my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria in 2010/2011, wherein I served in the Law Firm of Liman Salihu Chambers. Upon Completion of my NYSC, I had a brief stint of pupilage in the aforesaid Law Firm. I also had a brief stint of pupilage in the Law Firm of Vin Onyeka Chambers in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria. I established my own Law Firm, Ikedi Agunkwu Chambers in November, 2011. I am currently in active legal practice.
WHY YOUR CHOICE OF LAW?
You know, everything in life is a choice! What you like may not be what I like. My decision to study Law has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I like reading the biographies and autobiographies of great men. Most of the great men in the world are activists, lawyers, philosophers and scientists. My father, Chief Michael Agunkwu, of blessed memory, was a New York-trained Medical Laboratory Scientist. He spurred my penchant for education. He warned me not to delve into buying and selling that is so rife in our clime. He programmed me to study Medicine and Surgery, but I stoutly refused to study it as a matter of personal decision. I took the hard decision to study Law. He felt disappointed, when I vehemently elected to study Law despite being a Science Student. He tried to stymie me, but to no avail. Subsequently, he became elated and exuded in happiness, because I was still on the path of professional firmament, and I never failed any Law Course from my University days to Law School. I passed all my Law Courses at a sitting. To me, Law is everything, except bad thing. I like reading, and reading is my DNA! Law is my life. In fact, some people don’t like me because of my penchant for legal practice, but I am not bothered. I take their complaints and criticism as blood tonic to my system. I consider them as lazy people who don’t create time to read.
WHAT IS YOUR ALTERNATIVE CAREER, SHOULD LAW NOT BE THE AVENUE FOR YOU?
To join the Nigerian Army or the U.S. Army.
WHAT WAS YOUR SOLO APPEARANCE AS A NEW WIG IN COURT?
It was in a fundamental rights matter at the High Court. I did not entertain Court fright. Prior to my Call to the Nigerian Bar, I was visiting courts to watch legal proceedings.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LEGAL PRACTICE?
It gives me the courage to speak my mind to any person! I can tell you off in a justifiable way and manner, and tomorrow I will not receive a “love letter” which would read: “You have been relieved of your duty”. In other words, nobody can sack me! I am self-employed. I am the Principal Counsel at Ikedi Agunkwu Chambers!
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE THINGS THAT CAN HELP A PERSON BECOME SUCCESSFUL IN LEGAL PRACTICE?
A lawyer who is successful in legal practice is a good lawyer. Succinctly put, a good lawyer is a lawyer who knows where to find the Law. Is also a lawyer who knows what to do in Court at every point in time. The things that can help a lawyer become successful, inter alia, are brilliance, hardwork, determination, courage, good writing skills, good spoken English language, listening abilities, constant research of Law books, analytical skills, smartness and being principled in life.
DO YOU EVER WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, THINKING ABOUT A CASE, WISHING YOU HAD HANDLED SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE ONE SITUATION (IF ANY)
Not at all, but I do most of my critical reading and writing at night.
IN WHAT WAY DO YOU THINK THE JUDICIARY CAN IMPROVE ON DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE?
Is simply by manifestly doing justice to all manner of people in accordance with the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. The Judiciary, in any given country is a sine qua non. The recruitment of Magistrates and Judges must be on merit, as the bench requires legal minds of serious intellectual frequency. My piece, titled: “Judiciary: The Last Hope of the Common Man,” speaks volume in this respect. The said piece was published in print, electronic and online media, which includes TheNigerialawyer.
GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF A TIME YOU EXPERIENCED CONFLICT OR DISAGREEMENT. HOW DID YOU RESOLVE THIS? (IF ANY)
Well, life is challenging and also a mystery. In as much as a man lives in this life, there will always be challenges. Madam, I will not give an example of my conflict or disagreement herein.
HAVE YOU EVER BENEFITED FROM YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT/MISTAKES?
Yes, I have.
WHO HAS BEEN MOST INFLUENTIAL IN YOUR LIFE?
Sincerely, there are people who have been most influential in my life. In the Human Rights Community, the lawyers whose practice and lives keep influencing me are late Chief Gani Fawehinmi,SAN, Chief Olisa Agbakoba,SAN, Festus Keyamo, SAN and Festus Okoye, Esq.! Outside the Human Rights Community, my father, late Chief Michael Agunkwu and my elder sister, Mrs. Edna Nwanneka Ihekwu (nee Agunkwu), also influence me.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE POOR OR NO SALARY PAYMENT TO YOUNG LAWYERS?
Harsh economy is the major factor. The legal profession is a conservative profession. In it, you hear senior lawyers say, “no lawyer pays a lawyer”. In my opinion, the only panacea for this challenge is the senior lawyers to allow the juniors to have a major percentage of the legal fees of their own briefs whilst undergoing their pupilage. It will help to a reasonable extent.
ARE YOU BETTER WORKING ALONE, OR AS PART OF A TEAM?
Yes, I am better working alone. I can also work as part of a team with good heads.