Timiebi Roupa Okara was a British trained lawyer per excellence from Bumoundi-Ekpetiama, Bayelsa state. He was best known for his love and support for the Anglican Communion.
Who was Timiebi Roupa Okara?
Born in 1956 in Jos, Northern Nigeria, Timiebi Roupa Okara fondly called Dada earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds in 1977 and was subsequently called to the English bar at Grays Inn in 1978. He was a repository Northern Ijaw history and a quintessential law professional in the early 1980s. He became a highly esteemed community monarch in 1988 and was best known for his kindness and unalloyed commitment to the Anglican Communion. Timiebi Roupa Okara died in 2015 at the age of 65.
Timiebi Roupa Okara’s father was Robert Pappah Gbaingbain Okara a renowned broadcaster with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the 1940s and later a Judge of the High Court of Nigeria; he hails from Bumoundi-Ekpetiama of Bayelsa State. However, Justice Robert Pappah Gbaingbain Okara a staunch Anglican died on the bench in 1988. Timiebi Roupa Okara’s mother was Mama Sabina Niagwan. She hails from Shendam in Plateau State. She was an auxiliary nurse who later veered into business and became successful. Sabina Niagwan Okara, unfortunately, died in a ghastly auto crash in 1985.
Early Life and Education
Timiebi Roupa Okara was born at Jos General Hospital Plateau State on June 11, 1950. He had a good upbringing; Dada lived briefly in Jos, Northern Nigeria with his maternal grandfather, Pa John Niagwan, who was an educationist (Headmaster) and a dedicated Catholic. Later, he left Jos for Bumoundi-Ekpetiama (now in Bayelsa state) to stay with his paternal grandfather, Chief Samson Pappah Gbaingbain Okara, who was the Amananaowei of Bumoundi-Ekpetiama and also a wealthy agent to United African Company (UAC).
Firstly, in the early 1960s He attended St. Marks Catholic School Oron Eastern Nigeria (now in Akwa Ibom state) for his primary education and he had his secondary education at Methodist Boys’ High School Oron from 1965 to 1967 and later he was at Government Comprehensive Secondary School (GCSS) Borokiri Port Harcourt from 1968 to 1970 and got his West African School Certificate.
Subsequently, he proceeded to the United Kingdom for his post-secondary education. From 1972 to 1974 Timiebi Okara got his A’ level at Walbrook College London and in 1977 he became a graduate of Law (LL.b) at University of Leeds. He was called to the English bar at Grays Inn in 1978 and subsequently in Nigeria Bar in 1980.
His Law Career
After his graduation, Timiebi Okara went into private legal practice. Firstly, in the early 1980s, he practised under the chambers of Chief Nwobidike Nwonodi in Port Harcourt and later he established his own legal practice TJR Okara and Co. at 24 Port Johnson Street, Port Harcourt. Barrister Timiebi Okara had a wonderful and excellent legal practise. He advised his clients appropriately and he avoids controversial issues. Moreover, Barrister Timiebi Okara was best known for his benevolence in assisting and defending the poor and oppressed.
He was Member, Disciplinary Committee, Nigeria Bar Association from 1998 to 2002; Barrister Timiebi Okara was a Member, Body of Benchers from 1998 to 2003; he was Member Election Petition Appeals Tribunal in 1997; he was Member, Judicial Panel of Inquiry Koluama and Akassa Crisis in 2000; from 2000 to 2005 he was Member, Bayelsa State Judicial Service Commission; he was Chairman, Bayelsa State Local Government Election Tribunal in 2006 and also in 2010.
Public Offices Held
In Old Rivers State, as at 1980 he was Secretary, Niger Delta State Movement; from 1985 to 1987 he was Chairman, Land Allocation Committee Yenagoa Local Government Area YELGA; the Old Rivers State Government appointed him Member, Board of Directors Risonpalm Nigeria Limited from 1987 to 1992; he was Chairman, Nigeria Red Cross Society (Bayelsa State Chapter) from 1996 to 2004. Afterwards, the Bayelsa State Government appointed him Member, Board of Directors Bayelsa State Oil Company from 2013 till his death in 2015.
In 1982, the K-Dere community in Ogoni kingdom, Rivers State made him a Chief. Subsequently, in 1988 his father Justice Robert Pappah Gbaingbain the erstwhile paramount ruler (Amananaowei) of Bumoundi-Ekpetiama unfortunately died and Timiebi Okara was appointed regent of Bumuondi. Later, in 1996 he was made a substantive Amananaowei and a recognized third class monarch of Bayelsa State.
Timiebi Okara had a godly upbringing from his childhood and he kept an indelible footprint on the sands of time in his services to God and mankind. Firstly, his maternal grandfather Pa John Niagwan baptized him in the Roman Catholic Church as ‘John’ in his tender age at Jos, Plateau State. Afterwards, his paternal grandfather Samson Pappah Gbaingbain Okara re-baptized Dada in the Anglican Church as ‘John’; a coincidence. In 1970, Bishop E.T Dimiieri confirmed Timiebi Okara. Subsequently, in 1995 Rt. Rev Samuel Elenwo knighted him as a knight of St. Christopher and also appointed him as Diocesan Lay Reader. In 1996, Most Rev. Abiodun Adetiloye the then supervising Bishop of the Diocese appointed him Deputy Registrar of Diocese of Niger Delta and later Bishop Gabriel Pepple confirmed his appointment.
Niger Delta West
When the diocese of the Niger Delta West was created in 1999, Rt. Adolphus Amabebe appointed him the Chancellor. A position he held till he died in 2015.
He was best known as a peacemaker and would tell the truth and interpretation of the laws and canons of the Church with all boldness. He participated in all general synods and standing committee meetings and the last being in September 2015 at Akure, Ondo state where he was a Rapporteur.
Finally, Timiebi Okara never dented his faith and steadfast in God all through his lifetime; he eschewed using occultism and spiritualism to become famous in life.
Family and Personal Life
Dada was married to his best friend (Dame) Dr Ebimie Okara nee Pulotua of Lobia, South Ijaw Local Government Area in 1977; she is a medical doctor and a retired Permanent Secretary of Bayelsa State public service and the couple went on to have three children. However, due to his disposition, Dada mentored over 20 children. He had over 100 Godchildren and some of them chose him to be their godfather. Dada was a repository of Ijaw history and had an excellent, admirable relationship with his families in Agudama-Ekpetiama, Tombia, Nembe-Bassambiri, Igbainwari, Kaiama, Shendam Jos-Plateau State, Otuokpoti, Famgbe and Yenagoa.
How and When He Died?
In 2013, Timiebi Okara was hit with colon cancer which necessitated him travelling abroad to seek solutions. He never gave up nor objected to treatment; He would always say “don’t worry, I will come back”. Timiebi Okara will always tell you that death is not the end of a Christian because he was sure, he will go to Heaven.
HRH (Sir) Barrister Timiebi Okara finally, died on Saturday, 19 December 2015 at 3.30pm peacefully in his house having insisted on his discharge from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) on the same day. Timiebi Okara was 65 years old.
Barrister Timiebi Okara will be remembered for his humane dispositions and forthrightness in addressing issues.
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrew 13: 14-16