Profile of Hon. Justice Doris Okuwobi | YNaija Person of the Year 2021 Nominee

Honorable Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd.) is a highly accomplished legal practitioner, who since the start of her career has made major strides within the Nigerian legal system.

Lately, her name found itself on the lips of many Nigerians owing to her appointment as Chairperson of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters. She was appointed by the Governor of Lagos; Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Doris Okuwobi began her career as far back as 1978 within the halls of Kehinde Sofola and Co. before joining the Lagos State Government as State Counsel. Throughout her career, she has served on numerous committees and bodies in various capacities, to include: Member, Public Complaints Committee (2004-2006), Probate Judge (2006 – 2008), Member, Election Petition Tribunal in Ekiti, Ogun, Bauchi and Anambra State Panels (2007 – 2009).

Others include Administrative Judge, lkeja; Lagos Division of the High Court (2016), Member, High Court of Lagos State Rules Review Committee (2018-2019), Chairman, Special Committee on Probate Matters 2018, Judicial Etiquette and Comportment in the Magistracy of the Lagos State Judiciary (2018), Ethics and Code of Conduct of Sheriffs of the High Court of Lagos State (November 2018).

She would eventually retire from the Lagos State Judiciary on Friday 10th January 2020 after 42 years of service and shortly after, following the #EndSARS protests, she was appointed Chairperson of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters.

This year, in an unpredictable move, the final report (although unsigned) of the Justice Okuwobi-led panel on the #EndSARS protests was leaked to the public, shortly after it was submitted to the state government. Although many dismissed the panel as yet another puppet committee tied to the apron strings of ‘the powers that be,’ Honorable Justice Doris Okuwobi and the panel members shocked the country by releasing a report that bore the ugly truth about the events of October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos.

The report which contained some shocking and incriminating details on the Lagos and Federal governments respectively, endeared the panel to Nigerians. Many Nigerians praised members of the panel and its leadership for standing on the path of truth and the thorough work it did; especially when compared with the reports of similar panels in the past.

A total of 48 protesters were listed in the report to have either been shot dead, injured with bullet wounds or assaulted by soldiers. As restitution and reparation for the victims of the terrible incident, the panel made 32 recommendations; some of which were rejected in the White Paper released by the Lagos State Government.

Owing to fear and legitimate concerns, many (including direct victims of the Lekki Shootings) failed to surface and detail what had occurred. A development that increased the the risk of such a monumental tragedy being swept under the proverbial rug of forgotten stories in the country’s history.

The report thus, remains very relevant in Nigerian political history as it put to rest, controversies about what truly happened on the night of October 20, 2020; which it noted as a massacre. Many still argue about the number of casualties and dead from the shootings, but the report is definite proof that Nigerian soldiers shot at and killed a number of youths during the #EndSARS protest of 2020.

If the saying that “not all heroes wear capes,” is a truth that should be held forever; majority, will be safe to posit that Hon Justice Doris Okuwobi (Retired) joined the ranks of ‘capeless heroes.’ Indeed, she taking a decision along with seven other men and women of integrity to give truth wings to fly.

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