In Nigeria and internationally, Festus Keyamo (SAN) is known for his activism in protecting the interest of the Nigerian public. This article will be discussing the life and times of this man.
Festus Adeniyi Keyamo was born on January 21, 1970 in Ughelli, Delta state. His father, Matthais Keyamo came from Uvwie Local Government Area while his mother, Caroline Abeni Keyamo was of Yoruba origin, from Yewa South in Ogun State.
In 1975, Festus Keyamo went to the Oharisi Model Primary School and proceeded to Government College, Ughelli in 1981 for his secondary school education. In 1988, he was admitted into the Bendel State University (now renamed the Ambrose Alli University, AAU) where he got his LL. B degree.
Festus Keyamo later proceeded to study at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the United Kingdom where he became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK). On December 15, 1993, he got called to the Nigerian Bar.
It was during the time that Festus Keyamo received his call to bar that there was a heavy contention between the Nigerian government and Moshood Kasimawo Abiola over the June 12 1993 presidential election.
Festus Keyamo began practicing as a lawyer with Gani Fawehinmi Chambers which was situated in Lagos state. Despite being new at this Chambers, Festus Keyamo was dedicated to his work as a legal activist and performed exceptionally well in some cases. Together with his boss, Gani Fawehinmi, he protested against the harsh military rule and for this, he was often arrested and detained. For his dedication to his work, in March 1994, he was presented with the Best Lawyer award in the Chambers.
In 1995, Festus Keyamo left the Gani Fawehinmi Chambers and shortly after that, founded the Festus Keyamo Chamber, his own law firm that was named eponymously. The Festus Chamber has since grown in size: it has 3 offices in Abuja, the Federal capital territory; Lagos, and Delta state. The law firm’s staff consist of over twenty lawyers and thirty para-legal staff.
Together with his then boss, Gani Fawehinmi, Festus Keyamo created the National Conscience Party with the purpose of opposing the military rule.
He further founded the Youth Against Misguided Youths which saw to thousands of youths in Nigeria who opposed the rule of General Sani Abacha.
In 2009, Festus Keyamo called for an investigation into the leadership of the Federal House of Representatives based on the suspicion and accusation of mismanagement of public funds when this administration bought three hundred and eighty units of Peugeot 407 Cars. He also called for Legislators to be held accountable and this led to the investigation, arrest and trial of the House Leadership. As at the time of writing this article, the case is still pending at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Nigeria.
Keyamo has also served as one of the private prosecuting counsels for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and during his time, he oversaw the prosecution of corrupt politicians.
Festus was nominated as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the second administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. In August 2019, he was appointed as Minister of State for Niger Delta but in September 2019, his appointment was changed to that of Ministry of Labour and Employment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Festus Keyamo is married to Isioma Irene and they have a boy and a girl namely Festus Keyamo jnr. and Nicole Keyamo.
- For his work, Festus Keyamo has received a number of awards which includes:
- Activist of the Year by the Students Union, University of Jos — 2001
- Best Single Advocate of Nigeria Law Students in the Taslim Elias Moot Trial Competition — 1992
- Best Lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi Chambers — 1994
- Defender of Press Freedom Award, Nigeria Union of Journalists — 2018
- Global Human Rights Awards, United State Global Leadership Council — 2017
- Listed in the New Who is Who in Nigeria — 2003
- Nominared for the World Medal of Honour — 2003
- Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) — 2017
- Chieftancy title: Ogba-uri of Ogor Kingdom (Strong man of the law) — 2005
- Chieftancy title: Omorokaro of Uvwie Kingdom (the child who leads the way) — 2011
- “My personal view is that another total lockdown would be counterproductive. Before defeating the virus, we must learn to live with it all around us and practice the skills of avoiding it like a landmine. Practice makes perfect. We cannot perfect those skills by locking ourselves up”
- “The panic and paranoia over the virus have become more deadly and infectious than the virus itself! What we need is deliberate calmness and extreme caution as we meticulously follow all the guidelines of WHO and NCDC daily. Panic always compounds every emergency situation.”
- “I just finished participating in a virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council, the first ever after the last one held on March 18th, 2020. Subsequent meetings were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- “It is quite sad that we have pushed ourselves to the point in this country that when any public appointment is announced, most Nigerians would first research the tribe of the appointee before they research his academic qualifications and competence for the job!”
- “Never try to win over those who dislike you for your convictions and beliefs. Theyâ€™re not the barometer of life. The best way to treat them is to ignore them whilst firmly defending those beliefs until their anger turns to solemn resignation and their hatred turns to quiet admiration.”
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