By Sen. Seriake Dickson
The 9th day of March, 2023 will remain for me and most of us a very dark day. It was the day I lost a friend who became a brother Chief (Sir) Friday Nwanozie Nwosu.
His path and mine crossed in 1988 on the first or second day we started our undergraduate studies in law having been admitted to study law at the Faculty of Law, Rivers State University of Science and Technology (now Rivers State University). I discovered then in our class, when we got to know ourselves that like me; he was also a police man. He was older than me by some years, but we were both young police men struggling to better our lives by acquiring university education by dent of hard work.
He like me had no sponsor, the Nigerian Police was the help we both had and that was a strong connecting factor. Nwosu had enlisted in the Nigerian Police Force in 1983 as a constable, and I had joined in 1986. It was in the cause of our studies in the university that I later got to know that he had even married and started a family while we were in the university. On my part, I had my younger ones’ living with me, so both of us were coping with family responsibilities as well as trying to acquire an education and working at the same time.
Nwosu and I made steady progress academically in our class joggling work and study, studying full time and working full time as well. In 1992 we both graduated with LLB degrees and proceeded with most of our class mates to the Nigerian Law School, and were subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar the following year, 1993. During our one year of studies and self development at the Nigerian Law School, the Nigerian Police accorded us and other Police Officers at the Law School study leave with pay, and we were very happy. Subsequently we both returned back to Port Harcourt after our call to bar. He continued at various divisions, and I at that time was posted to the State C. I. D. as a Legal Officer, investigator and prosecutor. We used to see regularly to discuss the next phase of our lives.
Nwosu was one of the people I told in confidence that I had made up my mind to disengage from the police and focus on legal practice. The bold steps I and Nwosu took in studying law at that time encouraged other young police officers to do the same. The next year other young police officers like Adesina Salawu, John Idoko and David Oyemike also gained admission to the University to study law. When I and Nwosu disengaged from the police to focus on private legal practice, they were also encouraged to leave the police and branch out into private legal practice and are all doing well today. Beyond that, we have all continued to be brothers and friends up till today.
Upon leaving the police and going into full time legal practice, we started out again in the cold as young Legal Practitioners. Nwosu started out in Aba with the law firm of THEO NKIRE and ASSOCIATES, while 1 stated out first with ALUKO and OYEBODE, and later SERENA DAVID DOKUBO and Co. before founding my own law firm, SERIAKE DICKSON and CO., a few years later. Nwosu was also inspired, left the law firm of THEO NKIRE and also set up his own law firm and started out. From then, Nwosu and I were always by each other’s side, we compared notes from time to time on developments in law, as well as in politics. Like me, he also had a strong inclination for public service, and particularly, on the need to organize likeminded elements to take strong political positions. Years later when I was appointed the Attorney General of Bayelsa State, Nwosu would always drop by from time to time to see me and we would rub minds.
When I ran for the House of Representatives in 2007, after my election, I offered Nwosu a place and he decided to relocate to Abuja. To help him settle down and explore opportunities in Abuja, he became my assistant and headed my office in Abuja. He and the current Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State were in my office then, but he was the Head being the senior of the two. That was how they helped me with my job as Chairman of the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives, Vetting and sponsoring bills. In all, Nwosu was a major backbone and the two of us shared a lot of thoughts ideologically. It was very easy for him to work with me.
Four years later when I ran for re-election to the House of Representatives, with all the challenges both politically and legally, Nwosu was by my side serving in different capacities, including electoral panels etc. It was Nwosu who was by me and fought all the issues relating to my nomination and litigations when I had to run for the Governorship of Bayelsa State in 2012. Nwosu was a permanent feature in all the legal teams, and we were very close until I finished my eight (8) years term as Governor. Everybody in my Government and my family knew Chief (Sir) F. N. Nwosu as my friend, my brother and confident. He was part of everything we were doing. He served and supported me with all his heart, his mind and his soul with respect to the various challenges I had to confront along the way of my political journey.
Apart from representing me personally in most legal matters, Nwosu’ s most memorable contribution to law and political development in Bayelsa State was his spearheading of the case that led to the disqualification of the APC and their Candidates in the 2019 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State and the subsequent declaration of Sen. Douye Diri and Sen. Lawrence Ewurujakpo as the duly elected Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively. I had noted the conspiracies within the party, the state and outside against my anointed candidates in the gubernatorial election (Sen. Douyi Diri and Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo). I also knew from my intel, the determination of the party at the center, using all instruments of power at its disposal, not to win the election, but to capture Bayelsa State by all means at the end of my tenure. It was to Nwosu’s ever brilliant mind that I turned. I called him and the then Deputy Governorship candidate, now Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State (Sen. Lawrence Ewhrujakpo), at the end of the nomination process and requested them to explore the legal possibilities because in my eyes as a trained detective and prosecutor, I have seen inconsistencies worthy of further exploration, and the need to have the law tested, as I and Nwosu had always done.
Nwosu and Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo worked on it, looked at the documents and a draft was ready before me which I authorized and got Sen. Lawrence Ewrudjakpo who was a party to the suit to sign the affidavit to commence a case that most people laughed at. After going through the court systems from the trial court to the Supreme Court, this case that no one paid any attention to nor believed in, was the one through which the plan by the Party at the centre to take over Bayelsa State by force and deny me, as the outgoing governor, the opportunity of seeing my successor emerge from my party, was reversed by the Supreme Court.
Indeed apart from God, it was Nwosu’s doggedness, brilliance and incisive legal mind, working with me; that laid the foundation and made our legal victory possible. He saw what others did not see or glossed over. He was the miracle worker. I thank the government of Bayelsa State, the Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Douyi Diri and the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrujakpo for recognizing his role and for rendering support to him in his life time and for supporting his burial as it should be.
Beyond my legal and political battles in Bayelsa State, I was also part of all his efforts politically in Abia State, as I tried and did everything within my power to support him to be the Governor of Abia State. The support I gave to Nwosu during his political battles in Abia State is known to all. During the travails and challenges he had within the PDP, I was one of the last people he consulted and told that he wanted to leave the PDP for the APC. He went to the APC and became a National Welfare Officer and a member of the National Working Committee of the APC at their last convention. I was sad that my party, the PDP had lost him, but I was however happy that my brother was making good progress in his new party.
We continued to compare notes as brothers until I had the terrible call. He had sent a text message to me on the 8th day of March, 2023 telling me that he was ill, that he was receiving treatment and was improving. When I got the test, I called and spoke with him. His voice was not shaky. It was clear and he told me that he was sick but that he had recovered and that we would soon see the following day. I later understood that he was discharged that evening, so I was shocked when I was woken up early the next morning with a distress call and told that Nwosu was in a terrible situation in his house and that he was being rushed to the hospital somewhere in Abuja. I dressed up and hurried out to the hospital so we could take charge and help.
Along the way, another call came diverting me to Garki Hospital. I got there before them and met with the medical personal to make arrangements for his emergency arrival and was waiting with the doctors for his arrival. I was shocked beyond words when a car drove in and I saw his wife, son and daughter and others open the car and were crying. I rushed to the vehicle, opened the back and saw my brother lying lifeless at the back seat. Instinctively, I pounced on his chest pumping him as if trying to administer CPR, the doctors I had arranged earlier were on hand with the nurses and they took over and helped in a bid to revive him. Minutes later, they turned to me and informed me that he was gone.
I was very cold. From there I led the team to the mortuary, made arrangements at the mortuary amidst the wailing and crying, and all the years of our relationship ended at that moment. I left there for home a broken man and we made arrangements thereafter and the corpse was brought home to the East.
Now that we are about to bury him, I want to thank all our classmates and other friends and the Clergy that has been supportive. I commiserate and give my condolences to his family, his wife, children, brothers and other relations.
I condole with the Government and People of Abia State, I also condole with his party (the APC), and all his associates in the APC and all those who are his friends.
We have truly lost a great man. I have personally lost a friend and a brother.
His support and friendship, as well as his memories will always remain evergreen with me.
I pray that God should comfort his wife, children and his family as a whole.
I pray that this family and this land where we are burying Chief F. N. Nwosu will bring forth more Friday Nwosu’s with the same sense of character, honour and royalty to friendship as was exhibited by Chief Friday Nwosu in his life time.
I urge his children to strive to emulate his footsteps. To them, I say particularly, your father may not have lived as much as we all may have wanted, but he lived a great life of service to God and Humanity and was in every sense a good man, an Honorable man and a man of immense courage.
Adiu, goodbye my friend who became my brother, “He Ngwa Laka”, “Ikpeghi Ebeghi”, knight of Saint Mulumba, Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme court of Nigeria, F.N as 1 always called you, sleep on peacefully in the bosom of the Lord and may God grant you eternal repose and may his Angels watch over your soul continually, Amen.
Sen. Henry Seriake Dickson