Teacher, administrator, Jurist, Monarch
He represented the finest principles and traditions of the bar and bench. Late Justice K St. Sagbe as fondly called was best known for drafting the Laws and Edits of old Rivers State from 1972 to 1983.
Who Was HRM Hon. Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe, Okpo XX?
Kesiye St. Sagbe was born in the sprawling costal community called Okpoama in 1926. He was an embodiment of humility, humane disposition, legal luminary, sport enthusiast, devout Christian all rolled into one became a King himself in 1978. In 1983, he was appointed Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General Old Rivers State and subsequently a Judge of the Rivers State High Court in 1985. His deeds were towering in the Judicial arm of Nigeria; he was upright, erudite and hardworking judge. He lived a fulfilled life, and was a man at peace with himself. HRM Hon. Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe, Okpo XX died in 2007 at the age of 81.
Birth Date and Place
K St. Sagbe was born on the 24 of October 1926 at Okpoama community, Brass District in the then Eastern Nigeria.
His parents were famous late Chief Jacob Sagbe-Obasi and Madam Martha Amafate Agada Sagbe (also late) and they were all from Okpoama community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state. K St. Sagbe’s father was from the Sagbe Obasi Royal House of Omo-Obasi and Isele group of chieftaincy war canoe houses of Okpoama kingdom in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.
It is worthy to state herein that Chief Jacob Sagbe-Obasi was one of the first Ijaw personalities to embraced the Christian faith early. He worked vigorously towards the establishment/building of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Okpoama and also went further to sponsor his kinsman to becoming a priest with the Anglican communion; who was Rev. Mathew H.D Abayi (now late). Rev. Mathew H.D Abaye subsequently became a benefactor for young K St. Sagbe after his father sudden death.
Education and Career Life
He attended his primary education at St. Banaba’s School Twon-Brass and then got his standards Six certificate. But unfortunately, K St. Sagbe’s father died during the period and that hampered his post primary education ambition; so, he never attended any formal secondary school.
Life at Awka
So, the journey life took K St. Sagbe to Awka town, Eastern-Nigeria to live with his uncle who is a priest with the Anglican church, Rev. Mathew H.D Abayi. At Awka town, he resolved in becoming a pupil teacher in schools in the Eastern-Nigeria as his uncle was being posted as a priest within the region in villages like Umuahia, Aba and others. He was a good teacher irrespective of his slender outlooks at that time as he was nicknamed “Obele Teacher” meaning small teacher.
As times passed by, he had to quit the teaching the profession and secured a job with the United African Company (UAC) as a Clerk. He worked at Aba, Eastern-Nigeria and Cameroon which was also territory of the Nigerian state. Kesiye St. Sagbe worked diligently with UAC and rose to the ranks and was offered the position of a Manager but he turned down the offer to pursue his education in 1960.
Out of the little income he earned from UAC, he bought books, read voraciously, and registered for the General Certificate of Education Ordinarily level (GCE O’ Level) and General Certificate of Education Advanced level (GCE A’ Level) which he passed creditably in 1961 and 1962 respectively.
At ABU, UI and UINVERSITY of IFE
So, in 1963 he eventually got admission to study at the Faculty of Social Science at the university of Ibadan which he abruptly stopped pursuing at the instance of his bosom friend and benefactor, somewhat Uche Omo who persuaded Kesiye St. Sagbe to study law instead; late Uche Omo was a once respected Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Afterwards, Kesiye St. Sagbe got admission in the faculty of Law at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria from 1965 to 1966 session. Subsequently, at the advent of the Nigeria civil war, he left ABU Zaria for University of Ife to continue his studies in Law and graduated in 1968/1969 set.
As A State Counsel
Kesiye St. Sagbe was called to Bar at the Nigerian Law School in July 1969 and on October 2 1969, he was employed as a State Counsel in the Old Rivers State Ministry of Justices. Still not satisfied with himself, he pursued a Master’s degree on scholarship to United States of America to study at the prestigious Columbia University. On the 18 May 1977, he got his LL.M degree with a distinction in Legislative Development of the Law and Drafting.
In 1969 Kesiye St. Sagbe was employed as a state counsel with the Rivers State Ministry of Justice. He was a diligent and worthy attorney in the Ministry of Justice; he practically worked in all the departments of the ministry. The renowned late Dr. Adolphus Karibi-Whyte a Justice of the Supreme Court was his boss and he was also an assistant to Mr. R.A Nedd who later became Justice R.A Nedd of the West Indies Court of Appeal. Kesiye St. Sagbe had an eventful legal career in the Ministry of Justice old Rivers State and got promoted through the ranks and reached the apex of the civil service as he was appointed a Permanent Secretary/Solicitor-General on 21 December, 1982 by the then Executive Governor of Rivers State late Chief Melford Okilo. Before long he was elevated again as a High Court Judge in the Rivers State Judiciary on 22 July 1985 by the Military Governor Fidelis E. Oyakhilome.
Creation of Bayelsa state
On October 1, 1996 Bayelsa State was created and Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe’s service was transferred to his home state as still a Judge of the High Court till his retirement in 2004 or thereabout. While he was judge, he lived up to the ethical dictates of the office of a judge by dispensing justice without fear or favour, ill-will or affection.
He was a proficient draftsman the Niger delta has ever had due to his various trainings he had over the years overseas. In addition, he was a scholar at the Institute of Overseas Development Administration, London from 1973 to 1974 and the Common Wealth Course for Legal Draftsman in West-Africa held in Ghana in 1975. He also attended some seminars organised by the organization of the European Parliament in Strasburg, France in 1974.
Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe was instrumental in the drafting of the edicts of old Rivers State now law of Rivers State and Bayelsa State between 1972 and 1983.
Sports and Others Awards
He was a football enthusiast as he was made Chairman Rivers State Football Association from 1974 to 1982 and even a member, Nigeria Football Association. His services and achievements knew no bounds and was accorded a certificate of merit.
Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe was a man of international repute. He was a recipient of various awards including the Honorary Award of Assistant District Attorney of rouge in the State of Louisiana, USA and also a citizen of the city of Baton Rouge in the State of Louisiana, USA (1980).
As A King
His exemplary leadership qualities, scholarship, sagacity and integrity led to his popular choice as the Amanyanabo of Okpoama Kingdom on July 22, 1978, as he was addressed as HRM. HON. JUSTICE KESIYE ST. SAGBE, OKPO XX a position in which he served with distinction, self-confidence, dignity, accountability till his demise on 4 December 2007.
HRM. HON. JUSTICE KESIYE ST. SAGBE, OKPO XX was a practical Christian indeed. He was an Anglican.
Firstly, Justice Kesiye St. Sagbe was married to a Cameroonian woman during his sojourn with UAC in the 50s and the had two (2) sons but he unfortunately misplaced his family during Nigeria Civil War of 1967 to 1969. Afterwards, HRM. HON. JUSTICE KESIYE ST. SAGBE, OKPO XX got married to Mrs Imienebimo and had three children.
HRM. HON. JUSTICE KESIYE ST. SAGBE, OKPO XX died on the 4 of December 2007 in Port Harcourt and had long been buried according to the culture and customs of the Nembe people.
Favourite Bible Passages
- God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. I Cor 14:33
- A man can only speak of what happened yesterday. A man cannot tell what is going to happen today or tomorrow. The length of our lives is as uncertain as the morning fog-now you see it; soon it is gone. James 4:13-16
- Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s 2 Corinthians 20:15
- Naked one comes to the world and one cannot take anything away from this world on death. Ecclesiastes 5:15
- It is for this reason that God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is God’s faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22
“That which does not begin with God, ends in failure”
“it is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice”
“he who administers a cup of injustice to his fellow man shall himself taste of the dregs thereof”