Prof. Fabian Ajogwu stands tall among his peers, not only for his contribution to the legal field but his expansive views and knowledge on corporate governance and other areas of nation-building. As he becomes a recipient of the national honour, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic, Vanessa Obioha profiles his outstanding and enviable career
The year 2022 is a remarkable one for the Ajogwus. On October 11, 2022, when President Muhammadu Buhari awarded National Honours to a few exceptional Nigerians, one outstanding personality was Fabian Ajogwu. His contributions to the country, law and humanity, have not gone unnoticed. Though he is used to receiving awards and honours, this for him, stands out greatly because it came from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Ajogwu, a founding partner of Kenna Partners is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) with over two decades of law practice experience. He is well respected and reputed for assisting in drafting Nigeria’s pioneer Code of Corporate Governance for the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2003 as well as serving as a lead counsel to the Federal Government of Nigeria in several cases of national importance with an emphasis on aviation, defence, energy, and financial services sectors. He has served as Honorary Counsel to the State of Israel in Nigeria, Venezuela and the Republic of South Africa in Nigeria.
Ajogwu’s forte lies in the field of Foreign Direct Investments and corporate restructuring in the financial services sector, and natural resources sector; including litigation and arbitration in related fields. As such, he has played different roles in these fields including chairing the Nigerian Communications Commission Committee on Corporate Governance that produced the 2014 NCC Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecommunication Sector. In 2018, he again served on the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Committee on the 2018 National Code of Corporate Governance.
Arguably, Ajogwu is walking in the shoes of his father, Dr. Michael Ajogwu who clocked 80 this year. Apart from being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) himself, he was also the Enugu State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
Ajogwu’s contributions to corporate governance cannot be overlooked or overemphasised. He was born on June 23, 1970, just as the civil war was ending. At the time, his father had lost three years of academic work to the war. The younger Ajogwu was just two years old when his father obtained his law degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1972. His mother on the other hand was a school principal.
Perhaps, seeing his father kick off his career at that young age, inspired him to toe the same path. After obtaining his secondary school education from Federal Government College, Kano, Ajogwu needed no soothsayer to lead him into the law profession. He obtained his law degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a master’s degree in Law from the University of Lagos.
However, his quest for knowledge led him to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Law) degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Barcelona, Spain. He is an Alumnus of the Lagos Business School and Said Business School of Oxford University.
Like his father, the younger Ajogwu wears many hats and is notable for his works, having taken Silk at the age of 39. One of his prominent achievements is the Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria (SCGN), a registered non-profit committed to the development of corporate governance best practices and ethics which he founded in 2005. SCGN works with the active support of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and leading listed companies in Nigeria.
Ajogwu is a fellow of many institutions including the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, African Leadership Initiative West Africa, Henry Crown Global Leadership, and Aspen Institute. He is also the President of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators. He served as the Distinguished Legal Author on the Council of Legal Education and was a member of the General Council of the Bar. He chaired the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria Continuing Legal Education Subcommittee and served on the Body’s Ethics Committee.
Beyond the legal field, the revered SAN is known in the corporate world. He has extensive experience in deal structuring for complex financing transactions and serves on the boards of some real estate and mall development companies in Nigeria with investment portfolios across the country. He serves on the board of the Lagos Court of Arbitration as its Vice-President.
He is a Director of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc (member of Standard Bank Group), Guinness Nigeria Plc (Diageo), and Seplat Energy Plc.
Sitting on the chairs of many companies, the professor of Law chaired Leap Africa, NES Global, and ARM-Harith Infrastructure Fund (Nigeria’s pioneer infrastructure fund) and currently chairs Novare Malls Group.
Anacademician, served as a member of the Governing Council of Pan-Atlantic University up until 2018. He’s been teaching courses on Business Law and Negotiations over the past 15 years at the Lagos Business School.
Ajogwu inherited many things from his parents including their passion for education, arts and leadership. It is no surprise then that he founded the AIFA Reading Society which promotes reading culture and educational support for less privileged children. He is also the founder of the Society for Art Collection and the Akashi Leadership Initiative which promotes personal leadership.
A brilliant author, Ajogwu has penned down his legal experience and thoughts in several books. They include ‘Corporate Governance in Nigeria: Law and Practice’; ‘Mergers & Acquisition in Nigeria: Law and Practice’; ‘Law and Society’; ‘Commercial Arbitration in Nigeria: Law and Practice’; and ‘Ship Acquisition & Finance: Law & Practice’; among a few.
On other occasions, Ajogwu lent his thoughts to other authors in books such as ‘Outcomes-Based Governance: Modern Perspectives to Corporate Governance’ with Professor Mervyn King SC; ‘Petroleum Law and Sustainable Development’ with Dr Oscar Nliam; ‘Oral and Written Advocacy: Law & Practice’ with Chief Folake Solanke, SAN; and ‘Collecting Art: A Handbook’ with Dr Jess Castellote.
At Kenna Partners where he specialises in advising and representing major multinational corporations in diverse areas of law, Ajogwu co-authored ‘Legal & Regulatory Aspects of Commerce’ and ‘Trade & Investments in Nigeria: Legal and Regulatory Aspects’.
Some of his notable articles include ‘Making Boards More Effective’ which was published in 2001 in the Lagos Business School Management Review, and ‘Dealing with Guerrilla Tactics in International Arbitration: Which tools for Counsel and Arbitrators’, to the Disputes Journal of the Lagos Court of Arbitration for publication in 2014.
Ajogwu who has been a recipient of other awards and honours such as the Justice Kayode Eso Award for Excellence, Nigerian Institute of Arbitrators, was conferred the honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR),
His quest to impart knowledge and build a good society through purposeful giving will continue to set Ajogwu apart from his peers and make him a remarkable leader for the future generation.
For someone who is used to receiving awards in the past, his OFR honour conferred on him, coming from the Federal Government of Nigeria means that his good works have not gone unnoticed nationally.
Just like President Buhari told the recipients of the National Honours that the awards are not merely decorative, but a reminder of an important part of their responsibility, as citizens, to always endeavour to do their best for the country, for Prof Ajogwu, just like other awards and honours bestowed on him in the past, this national recognition will definitely spur him to do more in the pursuit of justice and humanity in Nigeria.