Samuel Olumuyiwa Jibowu: First African Judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria

Justice Samuel Olumuyiwa Jibowu (August 26, 1899 – June 1, 1959) was the first African to serve on the Supreme Court of Nigeria; the first African police magistrate, the first Nigerian High Court judge and a pioneer of the Nigerian Judiciary. He was also Chief Justice of Lagos and the old Western Region of Nigeria successively.

Samuel Olumuyiwa Jibowu was the first surviving male child of Samuel Alexander Adebowale (First Secretary of the Egba United Government) and Mary Elizabeth Jibowu (nee Pearce).

He attended Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta and taught at the school prior to attending college. In 1919, he left Nigeria for London where he attended Oxford University, England and earned a degree in Civil Law. He was called to the bar in 1923 at Middle Temple, London.

By 1931, he was a police magistrate, the first African to hold such a position during the time colonial authorities doubted the integrity of Africans. In 1942, he was appointed as a Judge of the High Court. He later became a puisne Judge at the High Court in Benin City and in 1957, he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Lagos High Courts and the Southern Cameroons.

Olumuyiwa Jibowu was a tall, robust and resplendent figure. He was the only black magistrate in Nigeria before 1934 and was highly respected for his sterling principles. His elevation to the Higher Bench was therefore a thing of joy to all Nigerians. He was perhaps the strictest of all the judges of his time but behind the rigid exterior was a thesaurus of untainted goodness.

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Justice Samuel Olumuyiwa Jibowu was husband to Mrs. Cecilia Jibowu (née Alakija), niece to Adeyemo Alakija (1884 — 1952), founder of Daily Times of Nigeria, and Lady Deborah Jibowu of Iddo Ajinare in Ekiti State. They bore him seven (7) children.

Jibowu headed the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the corruption in the Cocoa purchasing company of Ghana for which nearly 30,000 cocoa farmers had been alienated from the Nkrumah regime.

Olumuyiwa Jibowu was a tall, robust and resplendent figure. He was the only black magistrate in Nigeria before 1934 and was highly respected for his sterling principles. His elevation to the Higher Bench was therefore a thing of joy to all Nigerians.

He succeeded the equally talented Adetokunbo Ademola (1906—1993) as the Chief Justice of Western Nigeria in 1958 and died on the job a year later on June 1, 1959. He was 59.

Jibowu Street, a street in Yaba, Lagos, is named after him. 

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