It was an extraordinarily glorious day for Octogenarian, Asiwaju B. O. Benson (SAN) and his wife and family members last August in their Owode Ibeshe White House Courtyard as they hosted the newly appointed Chief Judge of Lagos State, Mr. Kazeem Alogba and a host of guests and dignitaries. It was a day the Benson couple doubled as co-parents and professional mentors of the Chief Judge.
The reception party was slated for Friday at the beautiful mansion and courtyard of the Bensons. This beautiful compound, always wearing brilliant white colours, is partitioned with different gates. By 12noon, many of the guests had started arriving as the hosts awaited the entry of the six Obas from Ikorodu division after the Jumat by 1p.m.
Chief B. O. Benson and his wife, Chief (Mrs.) Olabisi Benson were the leaders of the present Ikorodu High School before government took it over at a later stage. Before the government takeover, Mrs. Benson was the school Proprietress, who was known for her strict principles and discipline. Young Kazeem Alogba was one of her students in those years and he adopted the value of the Bensons on hardwork, discipline and academic excellence.
When Kazeem completed his secondary school as a first setter and later proceeded to the university to study Law, he ended up in the B.O. Benson Law Chamber for his tutelage. Hence, the Bensons played huge roles in the life of this illustrious Ikorodu son as both his moulders in the primary stage of his life and mentors in his professional years. They were more or less co-parents to this brilliant lawyer, now heading the judiciary in Lagos State.
So, when they sent out invitations to more than a hundred (100) dignitaries to receive this finished product of theirs, the response was marvelous. Light music played as the guests arrived to honour this Ikorodu son, who had risen to the peak of his legal/judicial career in his state. With the biological parents of Chief Judge Alogba, the Benson made everyone proud. Between 1p.m and about 7p.m, that arena bubbled with legal, judicial, traditional, professional and other eminent personalities.
The event kicked off with opening prayers, followed by a welcome speech by a member of the B.O. Benson and Associates, also a Senior Lawyer. Guests were told the background story of the new Chief Judge – his primary school days along Oriwu Road, and Ikorodu High School as one of the pioneer students. Tales were told of how Mrs. Benson was known for her no-nonsense attitude and how students used to flee anytime they heard the sound of her car for fear of the cane. It was laughter galore at the venue as older folks remembered similar situations in their homes and schools in those days. These memories excited a lot of the guests.
Chief B. O. Benson adopted a father figure to those students at that time; hence, the memories and experiences of the past helped to build these students for good. Many of these students are presently great leaders in all professions in the country and beyond; therefore, they were grateful to the Bensons and others, who mentored them.
The highlight of the event was the reading of the citation of the Chief Judge which delved into details on the background and developmental studies of the new Chief Judge from childhood till date. All the impressive details pointed to the fact that Kazeem Alogba deserves the position he just attained. As the citation was being read, Abitop, the number one caterer in Ikorodu, with her staff, served the guests high quality lunch comprising assorted African dishes while exotic wine and other drinks went along with the lunch as every guest was well attended to. Nothing was lacking for anyone. The quality lunch and reception must have cost the Benson family a big fortune.
Many people paid tributes to the new Chief Judge. Among the speakers was the Publisher of Oriwu Sun, Alhaji Monzor Olowosago, who centered on the unique characteristics of the Chief Judge. Cataloguing Alogba’s attributes, Monzor said he is a humble man, who despite his high position, relates with the grassroots and with everyone. According to the Publisher, Alogba respects both his seniors and his juniors as well as his socialites, while not compromising his dignity and integrity. He added that the new Chief Judge does not bear grudges against anyone as long as apologies for the wrong deeds were tendered. He forgives easily.
Another tribute was paid by the incumbent Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Mr. Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo (SAN), who recalled that his first assignment as Commissioner in Sanwo-Olu’s administration was to read the citation of the New Chief Judge at his swearing in ceremony.
He described Alogba as a brilliant Judicial Officer, who is very objective in his handling of cases and a man of dignity and integrity, who deserves this exalted position.
One could feel the emotions in the two fathers and mothers present at this ceremony as accolades were being poured on the son they gave birth to (biologically) or helped to bring up by training. Their hearts were obviously full of pride and joy; hence, the memories would be everlasting.
The climax of the occasion was the speech of the Chief Judge himself. This man, who is an orator, did not disappoint the audience and his listeners. A very eloquent and articulate speaker, he appreciated the Bensons, the guests, most of who are from the Bar and the Bench, and his parents for this event.
The Chief Judge, who came with his two wives, children and grandchildren, showed that he was indeed a family man and a caring father. Before the event officially flagged off, he was carrying on his shoulder one of his grandchildren and only handed over the child when the event became full blown. Throughout the event, his attention periodically focused on his nuclear family members, showing how much a loving family man he is.
In his speech, he said he was eternally grateful to the Bensons for not sparing the rod during his school days, which was responsible for his success today alongside others, who went through the same training. He admitted that the Bensons may not be his biological parents but he sees them as such because of the upbringing they gave him.
Chief Judge Alogba spoke glowingly about the Law Chamber of Chief B. O. Benson, where he trained as a Lawyer, and prayed for the continued success of that office. He remembered some of his colleagues in that chamber with the same kind of nostalgia he felt about Mrs. Benson’s training in Ikorodu High School.
Showing gratitude to the entire Benson family, including their children, the Chief Judge said he was exceedingly happy that many of his classmates, who were also brought up by the Bensons, were successful people today. He requested the guests at this event to continue to pray for him for his success in this great office. He pledged to use his position to serve the State creditably and benefit humanity as a whole.
The event came to a close with a vote of thanks by Chief B. O. Benson’s son, Mr. Idowu Benson, a senior member of the B.O. Benson and Associates. The event left no one in doubt about the ground the new Chief Judge had covered and the high esteem he holds for his biological parents, Alogba family and the Benson family. These memories would live forever in the minds of all that witnessed this reception.