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Etteh: 50 garlands for golden boy of labour law

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THERE is no doubt that some men and women have refused to serve as mere spectators in the theatre of life. They strongly believe that they have been ordained to change the world. 

 These men and women know through the combination of insight and experience that when the quest of perfection, though not attainable is perpetual, nothing is really out of reach. Impossible, to these men, are nothing. ‘Impossible’ in the Book of Wisdom of these can-do men translates to ‘I’m possible.’  

     Achievers, the world over, would certainly love the sound of possibilities! Interestingly, it is the same sound that resonates with the amazing story of Barrister Enobong Etteh, a pioneer publisher/Editor-in-Chief of ROCHEBA Law Publishers of Nigeria Labour Law report, who recently celebrated his golden jubilee birthday in Lagos amidst pomp and pageantry.

The lawyer’s labour of love across fields of human endeavours has brought fruits of joy to many across board and to mankind.

    His contribution to Nigeria’s legal jurisprudence is immense, especially in his area of expertise. Through hardwork, focus and determintion, Etteh has carved a niche for himself in his chosen career. Beside his publications, he is deeply involved in litigation and advocacy.

    Born on January 24, 1965 at Upenekang, Ibeno, an oil-rich producing community of Akwa Ibom State, South-South Nigeria to late Chief Ikpong Ikpong Etteh and Madam Mary Ikpong Etteh, young Etteh had a head -start in his academic career, flagging off from Central School, Ibeno onwards to Comprehensive Secondary School, Ibeno, Afaha Eket and Methodist Boys High School, Oron with a slight stint at Methodist Secondary School, Ibiaku Ishiet, Uyo for his secondary education and School of Arts and Science , Uyo for his pre-degree education. 

    In 1984, He gained admission into the University of Cross River State (now University of Uyo) to read Political Science as prelude to a law degree.  

    His foray into Political Science was, providentially to be punctuated with the timely establishment of the Faculty of Law in the same University.

    By this stroke of grace matched with good works, he made history by becoming one of the three pioneer political science students that moved on and moved up to the inaugural Faculty of Law to read Civil Law way back in 1985.  

    That automatically made him a pioneer student of the Faculty of Law and he graduated from the University as one of the pioneer law graduates, a further testimony that coming first may well have become his second nature. 

    As an undergraduate, Barrister Etteh did not consent to be a mere passenger; to be swept by the tide of events building around him and shaping the inexorable course of human history.  

 Rather he chose to be the navigator directing affairs. He was the pioneer Interim Chairman of the Law Students Association (LAWSA) of the University of Uyo and the pioneer Public Relations Officer of Magna Juris. 

    He was the pioneer Team Manager of the Faculty of Law team which won the Silver medal at the maiden entry into the University’s Inter-Faculty Games. His love for excellence and the beautiful game knows no bounds. 

    Right from his tender years he has always come to terms with one reality in the drama of success as far as the business of life goes: you have to achieve what others don’t’ hence he has always set great store for creative thinking.  This has helped stand him on high ground at the table of achievers. 

    Etteh enrolled in the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and late 1989, as he and his colleagues couldn’t come to the Law School in 1988 as part of the price to pay for being pioneer Law graduates. 

    He was called to the Bar in 1990. He has been in active legal practice in Lagos.

A man of manifest destiny, he elected to chart his own trail having served for a fruitful seven years in paid employment by establishing his Chambers that bears his imprint of excellence and stamp of professionalism in Lagos under the name Enobong Etteh & Co. (Judah Chambers).       His special areas of practice include Labour Law, Commercial Law and Constitutional Law. He is a member of both the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Section on Business Law and Section on Legal Practice of NBA. 

    He is currently the pioneer Chairman Employment and Labour Committee of the Section on Legal Practice. 

    His labour of love in the field of labor law has continued to bear bouquet of fruits in the publications of books of high pedigree on labour law.  

    Where one’s love is there goes one’s heart. He is passionately committed to the development of labour law in Nigeria. Barrister Etteh’s current passion is to see reforms in the legislations and in the administration of justice system in the labour sector. Barrister Etteh adopts a four-pronged approach in pursuing his vision for the development of labour law in Nigeria. This he does through active litigation and arbitration, seminars and workshops, publication of legal materials relating to labour law practice and finally through advocacy for legislative reforms. 

    Little wonder that in 2004, ROCHEBA Law Publishers came up with the publication of the Nigerian Labour Law Reports with Barrister Etteh as the pioneer Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. 

    It must be observed that the Law Report is the first and only specialized weekly law report in the employment and labour law in Nigeria. Incidentally, the Law Report is also the first in the West world. The Nigerian Labour Law Reports has placed labour decisions of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, National Industrial Court, Federal High Court and the High Court in the hands of not only of lawyers and judges but also of employers, employees, labour unions and industrial relations/human resources practitioners. 

    This publication has generated tremendous interest among lawyers and is indeed acting as a catalyst for specialisation in Labour Law Practice in Nigeria. It has also created greater awareness among stakeholders in the labour sector on the laws and judicial pronouncements regulating labour relations in Nigeria. 

    It is, without gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian economy owes its development largely to the existence of industrial peace and harmony. The Nigerian Labour Law Reports is indeed a commendable and modest contribution towards achieving industrial peace and harmony in the work place in Nigeria. 

    He has also been involved in the campaign to reposition the National Industrial Court and other related institutions for the effective and speedy dispensation of justice in the labour sector.

In furtherance thereof, Etteh has made presentations before the Senate’s Public Hearing on the National Industrial Court Bill and the National Assembly’s Public Hearing on the Bill for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.  

    He is seriously involved in labour related seminars and workshops either directly or through his consulting outfit, ROCHEBA Consulting. 

A hard and smart worker and vibrant ticking brain-box, ideas-obsessed Etteh believes that opportunity is always missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.  

    To achieve the extraordinary, one must not only aspire to do the unthinkable, but one should put one’s thinking cap on, and roll ones sleeves to work hard for clarity and breakthrough. 

Etteh also believes, with the great Zig Ziglar, a World War II veteran, that man was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success and supremely endowed with seeds of greatness.

   Beside, to stand out from the pack a person should be most prepared to put more trust in nobility of character than on oath; because character is the foundation of all good success.

A man of many parts and a man for all seasons, Etteh is the Chairman of some companies including Ikang Conglomerate Nigeria Limited. He is a member of Board of Trustees and Governing Council of Salem University, Lokoja, Kogi State. 

   Etteh believes deep from his heart that life is too short to be small or stingy in giving. He has continued to raise the bar in the area of charity and philanthropy by reaching out to touch the hearts of the needy, enriching dreams and transforming destinies through diverse raft of intervention initiatives running into millions that have come handy in spreading smiles anywhere he goes.

   A smooth operator in this field of help to the needy in a world that is strangely afflicted by compassion fatigue, it is Etteh’s guiding philosophy that if you make a great impact in helping to make others happy and find a lift in life you do not need to make a great fuss about it.   

He is happily married to Mrs. Catherine Enobong Etteh (Nee Otusi) and has four children – Enobong Jnr., Mary, Ikikeabasi and Abasiafonmechi (Ikpong). 

   A practising Christian, a Reverend and an Area Superintendent Pastor with Salem International Christian Centre (Foundation Faith Church) and a one time Lagos State Branch Chairman of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria, Etteh is a labour rights activist of conservative activism school and currently the National Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Labour Lawyers. 

   He has been a politician since his student days and has held key national positions in some political parties at the macro-political level. These include the office of Assistant National Legal Adviser. 

   He weaves his first love – law into the exciting tapestry of politics through his involvement in election petition cases.

 


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