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Remembering Julianah Oladiwura Obaro, 10 years on

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Mrs. Julianah Oladiwura Obaro was one of the first female lawyers in Ondo Kingdom. She was born on March 31, 1936 to renowned cocoa entrepreneur, Pa Jacob Akinduro Akinnawo and Madam Gladys Adefisola Akinnawo. She died on June 22, 20I1.

Julianah Obaro


In those days, girl-child education was not a priority, but young Julianah’s dream of going to school was achieved, after her grandmother’s demise.

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It was customary then for first daughters to be ‘donated’ to grandmothers (Yeye) to assist them with domestic chores. It was when Yeye died that Julianah started school.

Her late start meant she was the oldest pupil in her class at CMS Girls’ School, Ondo. She did exceptionally well in her primary school studies and secured a double promotion in her second year. She passed the competitive Entrance Examination into St. Louis Secondary School, Bompai, Kano, and proceeded to Kano for her secondary education.

She, subsequently, travelled abroad to further her studies and originally enrolled for a nursing course in London. However, in the process of assisting her cousin, a law student, to copy his notes during holidays, she became fascinated by law and abandoned Nursing School in favour of a law degree programme.

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She was called to the English Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London, in 1964 and returned to Nigeria, thereafter, to attend the Nigerian Law School. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1965.

Mrs. Obaro began her legal career at the law chambers of the late Chief F.O. Akinrele (SAN), where she worked as an Associate for a number of years. She later set up her chamber, which she managed successfully until she joined the Lagos State Judiciary, as a Magistrate Grade 11 in January 1975.

As a Magistrate, Mrs. Obaro’s reputation as a no-nonsense and incorruptible jurist, was not disputed. She worked efficiently and was selected as the Nigerian delegate for a six-month Commonwealth Magistrates’ Development Programme in London in 1976.

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She progressed through the ranks of a male-dominated (at the time) profession to the position of Senior Magistrate, then Chief Magistrate Grade 11, and ultimately, to the highest grade in Magistracy, Chief Magistrate Grade 1, a post she held until her retirement in 1996.

After her retirement, Mrs. Obaro took up a part-time appointment as a Director at Good Homes Limited, Ilupeju, Lagos.

She was a devout Christian. She attended All Saints’ Church, Yaba, and participated actively in church activities until her death.

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As the first child, Mrs. Obaro enjoyed the love and respect of her siblings, including two eminent Ondo chiefs – Chief Gbenga Akinnawo, the Orunbato of Ondo Kingdom, and Chief Folageshin Akinnawo, the Bobagunwa of Ondo Kingdom.

Being the eldest child, she always portrayed the facade of being a tough disciplinarian, yet those who were close to her knew that beneath that seemingly tough veneer, lay a very kind soul, who would often reach out quietly to provide help to those who needed it, without expecting or asking for anything in return.

She was married to the late Chief Barrister S.S. Obaro and is survived by siblings, two children: Barrister (Mrs.) Aderonke Asielue, and Mrs Abimbola Ibikunle – sons-in-law, Mr. Samuel Asielue and Mr. Oluwaseyi Ibikunle; and six grandchildren.

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