FULL NAME: ADOGAH, Charles Aromonokhe
YEAR OF CALL TO BAR: 1977
YEAR OF CONFERMENT AS SAN: 2008
CONFERMENT SERIAL NO.: 281
PRESENT POSITION: Managing Partner
Law Firm: Chief Charles Adogah & Co.
ADDRESS: 95B Wire Road, P.O.Box 5025, Benin City, Edo State.
Chief Charles Adogah SAN grew up normally like many other children in a regular locality. His father was a disciplinarian and very particular about respects for elders, hard work and honesty. As a rule, his father did not particularly tolerate lies from any of his children. And these timeless values he inculcated in all his children as they grew up. Besides playing his school fees at the secondary school Charles’ parents did not influence his choice of a career. According to Chief Charles Adogah SAN, On completion of many secondary education, my ambition was to immediately proceed for my Higher School but I was disappointed as my parents, in order to give room for other children to be educated, refused to pay my school fees. Instead, they insisted that I should look for work ostensibly to join them in training my younger ones”.
It was out of frustration that Charles therefore reluctantly applied for a job under the Etsako District Council where he was employed as a clerical officer. Although it was prestigious in those days to be clerical officer, he did not derive maximum satisfaction from the job as his ambition was to graduate within the shortest possible time. Two remarkable events possibly influenced his choice of law as a profession: One was what he describes as unjustifiable interdiction from duty and his acquaintance with late Prince David Akenzua; the later honorable Justice David Akenzua who whenever he came to attend court at Auchi used him as a point of contact to reach his clients. Charles’ acquaintance with him more than anything else influenced his resolve to be a lawyer like him. Again, Charles’ father as a community leader did not believe in the in-ordinate pursuit of material wealth. All he kept telling his children was that they should strive for honor, integrity, and transparency in whatever they did. They were further admonished to work hard in order to make life more meaningful for others. And significantly, even though Charles’ parents were not directly responsible for his choice of career in law, he noted that they were very elated when he eventually became a lawyer as if it was originally their idea.
Chief Charles Adogah’s university experience was interesting, robust and exciting. Despite his involvement in student unionism, he never allowed his academic activities to lag behind as he combined both admirably.” I was a one time Secretary of the Student’ Union of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. I was also the National President of the Federated Union of Midwest Students all of which could make a less determined student to drop out of the University” he remarked. And his experience in the University cannot be complete without a mention of his rustication during his final year as a result of his membership of the pyrates Confraternity. However due to appeals from various quarters Charles was recalled a month to the final examinations. This incident had a very salutary effect on his life as he thereafter decided to face his studies with single mindedness. As providence would have it despite those vicissitudes, harassment and disruptions Charles still passed his degree examination and later enrolled at the law school, Lagos on 2nd day of July, 1977. I cannot thank God enough for seeing me through the unfortunate incidents” he will continually say any time the matter pops up for discussion. On campus, his daily routine was like any other student’s. It involved waking up early in the morning, taking his bathe, going for breakfast and thereafter go for lectures. Charles was by nature, a restless person and therefore could hardly sleep in the daytime. It was usually in the evening after lectures that many students would converge in his room which was then nick-named ‘Political Workshop’ to dissect and analyze Nigeria problems without arriving at any solution to be problems so identified. There was hardly any demonstration, protest or other-wise whether on or off campus which he did not actively participate in and looking back now, he considers his days in the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, as the most glorious and memorable days of his life.
On being called to the Bar, Charles Adogah served pupilage under three distinguished Legal Practitioners including his role model late Honorable Justice David Akenzua. Remuneration in those days for pupilage was very poor. According to him, his first appearance in court was neither eventful nor intimidating as he was led by his principal. After a short while he was allowed to go to court alone to take non-contentious motions and adjournments. But the same cannot be said of his first appearance at the Supreme Court in 1984. Although he was also led in the matter by his principle, at a stage he excused himself to answer the call of nature and asked Adogah to carry on. His principle’s brief absence from court created a tense moment for the young lawyer as he faced some difficult issues raised by the Respondent lawyer, Late Honorable Justice Okungbowa, who was then Director Civil Litigation, Bendel State.
However, the intervention of Honorable Justice Kayode Eso saved the day for him as Late Honorable Justice Okungbowa was determined to cash in on the temporary absence of Adogah’s principal from court to score a point. If Honorable Justice ESO had not punctured some of the issues Okungbowa raised, he really did not know how he could have managed the situation. But thereafter the young man became more relaxed in the regular courts than he was at the Supreme Court. When he considered himself strong and capable enough to stand on his own, he decided after consultation with his principal to establish his own chambers. In his words, “It was like going to a forest to farm with bare hands but I was determined to succeed”.
HONOURS & PREFERMENTS:
Member, Bendel State House of Assembly (1979-83)
National Treasurer, Nigerian Bar Association (1988-1990)
Pioneer Commissioner, Corporate Affairs Commission, (1991-1994)
Member, National Executive Committee, Nigerian Bar Association (1986- 1992),(2000-2004), (2008-Date)
Member, National Caretaker Committee, Nigerian Bar Association, (1995- 1996)
Charles Adogah started applying for the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1995 when he considered himself grounded and experienced enough to wear the silk. Initially he did not know when applications were considered late. But with the passage of time he came to realize that submissions of applications for SANship must be made on or before 31st of March each year.