My two most challenging cases – Priscilla Kuye


The first female President of the Nigerian Bar Association, between 1991 and 1992, Chief (Mrs.) Priscilla Kuye, is well known for her dedication to duty in the law profession.

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She has also contributed to the growth of the the Nigerian Bar Association, while in office as its number one citizen and at various stages. Kuye was also a former Vice President of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce; past President of Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, and the first regional Vice President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers for Africa in Nigeria between 1979 and 1981.

She is also a member of the Body of Benchers and past Chairman, Human Rights Committee of the NBA. On the international scene, she was elected Vice President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association in 1993.

She is the Head of Chambers of Priscilla O. Kuye and Company, her own law firm, established since 1970. The 76-year-old legal practitioner, who told The Point that she preferred the Bar to the Bench, expressed her disappointment at the low level of youth enrolment in schools and the high rate of unemployed graduates in the country.

There was a time I was offered a seat in the Court of Appeal, but I rejected it. I was offered in 1992, but I did not accept it, because I enjoyed being a legal practitioner

She said, “The youth must be educated and after they would have finished and graduated, there must be work for them. There is a high rate of unemployment now with a lot of graduates roaming the streets without work. “In the Constitution, it is stated that Nigerians should be educated, with at least free primary education.”

The legal practitioner urged today’s leaders not be selfish in the discharge of their constitutional roles. To her, “Leaders must work for the common good; they must forget themselves and work for Nigerians, to improve our standard of living, and to reduce our poverty. “They must make sure that each child goes to school, because knowledge is power and without education, you cannot have knowledge, you can’t have the power.”

She said that, being a legal practitioner was her preference to sitting on the Bench, that is, being a judge. Turning her focus to other spheres of the economy, Kuye fumed at the rot in most sectors of the economy. She noted that if services in the sectors were improved, Nigerians would enjoy a new lease of life.

She added, “Good health, cheap food, cheap housing and, most importantly, constant supply of electricity should be provided by government; if we have constant supply of electricity, poverty will reduce.

“The hair dresser, for instance, will have electricity to do her work, and the standard of living of all other small and medium scale entrepreneurs will improve.” She revealed to The Point that the most challenging cases she had ever handled were the ones between the late Dr. Tai Solarin and Anthony Cardinal Okogie and that of a widow, who her late husband’s relatives wanted to deny the right to her husband’s property.

She narrated, “There was a time Solarin sued Okogie for libel before a Lagos High Court. I was Okogie’s lawyer; at that time, he was an Archbishop. “ Late Chief G . O . K Ajayi, SAN, was the counsel to Solarin, but I won the case, the case was dismissed.” She said that after the suit was dismissed, they promised to appeal, but they have not done so till today. She also disclosed the other case she would not forget easily, saying, “You know there is a tradition in some parts of Edo State that when the husband dies, his wife is not entitled to any of his property.

“The woman came to me; she asked for my help, saying that the family of her late husband wanted to take everything her husband owned from her.

“I took the case to court and won the matter at the High Court, but the family appealed. I still won the case at the Court of Appeal.”

The legal luminary said that she prefers to practise as a lawyer than to be a member of the bench (judge).

“There was a time I was offered a seat in the Court of Appeal, but I rejected it. I was offered in 1992, but I did not accept it, because I enjoyed being a legal practitioner,” she revealed.