By Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN
I am now reacting, it appears rather late, to the death of Glanville Isetima Abibo, SAN. The reason is that I wanted to believe his transition was not true. I yearned for a situation where someone would call me up to say it was all a mere rumour. It was what in psychology, we call “delayed shock”, a state of shock that comes on at lengthy intervals after an injury or illness. It is also called “secondary shock”. Glanville’s death shocked me beyond words.
His death is hurtful and traumatic to me as a person. I had met Glanville for the first time about February, 2017. Himself, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN and my humble self, formed a troika, working together for, and defending some common clients. I met a man who was at once luminous, pleasant and unassuming; but who also wore humility like a second skin. Nothing seemed to hurt him; bother him, or strain him. His affability and geniality shone like a million stars. His friendliness was simply infectious. He laughed always, at times, with a guffaw. He expressed himself more in rib-cracking pidgin (broken) English, in the studied format of a home boy, with native intelligence. He was simply gregarious and effervescent, bubbling with the sap of life like a yam tendril in the rainy season (thank you, Chinua Achebe, “Things Fall Apart”).
Abibo had a bagfull of wisecracks and sheer wittism. “O boy, leave mata”, was his common dismissive reaction to issues that bothered or troubled us as a team.
His selflessness and generosity were nullus secondus. It was Abibo who first took me (with Adedipe, SAN), in 2018, to a restaurant on Awolowo road, Ikoyi, Lagos, to eat abula meal. “Chief, let me teach you a meal I know you probably have never eaten before. It is called abula”, he proudly announced after a court session one occasion. He was right. In all my sojourn in Yoruba land since 1975, I had never tasted abula. It has since become my favourite. The abula is a soup of Yoruba people. It is a mixture of ewedu (draw vegetable soup), obe ata (stew) and gbegiri (bean soup), all mixed together as a cocktail. This meal has since metamorphosed into a national menu in the genre of edikangikong, tuwo shinkafa, ofe onugbo, omhi saghue, efo riro, afang, egusi, ogbono, jollof rice, miyan kuka, nkwobi, etc.
And as he was want to be in generosity, Glanville picked up the entire bill for all of us. While I am stormy, Abibo is calm and tranquil. He was the soothing voice in our team, with Adedipe providing the studied leadership of experience and patience. Many a time, we had long sleepless nights, vigorously arguing, disagreeing, and finally agreeing over knotting contentious legal matters. His knowledge of the law, substantive and procedural, was breathless.
Abibo was extremely hardworking, intelligent and penetratingly analytical. His forthrightness and courageous approach to legal matters greatly endeared him to me, such that we became quite close; became friends, indeed. Abibo was classy, sartorial, urbane, debonair, avuncular and accommodating. He was simply a good human being.
To say the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has lost one of its very best shinning and leading lights is simply saying the obvious.
His transition is an irreplaceable loss to the people of Okrika, Rivers State and the entire legal profession.
The new state-of-the-art thriving law firm edifice of this great achiever (GLANVILLE ABIBOI (SAN) & CO., which he opened only in December, 2017, is one of the best ever to spring up in Port Harcourt, the “Garden City”. The sprawling structure is located at 3, Amazing Grace Close, Opposite Trans-Amadi Garden Estate, Off Peter Odili Road, Port Harcout. And wait for it. He named it “Lucius Nwosu, SAN House”, a befitting tribute to a court room gladiator, Chief Lucius Nwosu, SAN, for mentoring him. No one could be more selfless and altruistic.
His contributions to the legal profession, humanitarian causes and young lawyers and youth mentorship can never be forgotten. They are simply inerasable.
This is the great man that the cold hands of death have snatched away. Just like that. But death itself must die one day. Said John Donne, “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die”. Yes, death thou too shall die.
Abibo, you lived well. No doubt about that. You must therefore take consolation in the words of Bhudda, that, “even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely”. Death, where is thy sting? Death, thou art ashamed. Glanville, you have gone to rest at the eternal bossom of the Lord, free from the daily stress of this vain-glorious world of iniquity, vanity and futility. Yes, in the words of David Mazzuchelli, “life is stressful, dear. That’s why they say, Rest in Peace”.
My dear friend, brother, colleague and companion, REST IN PERFECT PEACE, till we meet to part no more. AMEN. For his lovely wife, children, extended family, friends, associates, and community that Abibo left behind, be consoled that he lived a fruitful life worthy of emulation. Adieu Glanville. Farewell, Isetima.
Chief Mike A.A Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, Ph.D, FCIArb, LL.D