|Birth||21 January 1970, Delta State, Nigeria|
Festus Egwarewa Adeniyi Keyamo, SAN is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is presently the Minister of State for Labour and Employment. He was appointed a Minister in July, 2019 after successfully leading the second term campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Director of Strategic Communications. He was first assigned to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as Minister of State, after which he was redeployed to his present position due to his versatility
In 2018, he was appointed as a member of the Board of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), an appointment he had to relinquish when he was appointed a Federal Minister.
Festus Keyamo a lawyer, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, FCIArb (UK), social crusader, critic and columnist was elevated on September 18, 2017, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN.
He was born in Ughelli, Delta State of Nigeria on Wednesday, January 21, 1970 by a father who hails from Uvwie L.G.A, near Warri, in Delta State and a mother from Yewa South L.G.A in Ogun State. He is the third child and first son in a family of seven children. Festus Keyamo attended Oharisi (Model) Primary School, Ughelli, 1975 to 1981, Government College, Ughelli, 1981 to 1986 and proceeded to his Higher School Certificate (HSC) course in the same school. Before he completed his HSC course, he gained admission through JAMB in 1988 into Bendel State University, (now Ambrose Alli University (AAU)) Ekpoma, in Edo State, and obtained his LL.B degree (Second Class Upper) in 1992. He was called to the Nigerian Bar on December 15, 1993 setting the stage for a colourful career in law. Much later, Festus Keyamo proceeded to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the United Kingdom where he qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK).
Legal career and activism
He started his legal practice in Gani Fawehinmi Chambers in Lagos State, southwestern Nigeria, at the height of the agitation for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 election. Even as a young lawyer, he was on the front row of legal activism with Chief Gani Fawehinmi and did so well in some landmark cases there that he won the Award of Best Lawyer in Gani Fawehinmi Chambers in March, 1994.
He left Gani Fawehinmi Chambers in 1995, had a brief stint in a partnership and then established his own law firm, Festus Keyamo Chamber, which has since grown rapidly with three offices in Lagos State, Abuja Federal Capital Territory, Warri in Delta State and liaison offices in many states with over 23 lawyers and more than 30 para-legal staff.
Before his appointment as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo was one of the private prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. In that capacity, he prosecuted some Politically Exposed Persons on behalf of the Commission. In his nearly three decades in legal practice, he has handled other several controversial, constitutional and landmark cases in almost all branches of the legal profession, and many on pro bono basis.
Mr. Keyamo also has a rich history of social and legal activism. In 1994, he teamed up with his late boss, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and other pro-democracy activists to campaign against military rule, and he suffered several arrests and detentions as a result.
Sometime in 2009, he prompted a probe of the leadership of the Federal House of Representatives over alleged profligacy and mismanagement of public funds in the purchase of 380 units of 407 Peugeot Cars. His crusade for accountability by the Legislators led to the eventual investigation, arrest and trial of the House Leadership. The case is still at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Nigeria.
Whilst working with Chief Gani Fawehinmi, he teamed up with him to establish the National Conscience Party which was originally designed to challenge military rule. He was the first Northern Co-ordinator of the Movement.
In 1997, he formed the Youth Against Misguided Youths that mobilized thousands of youths to oppose the self-succession bid of General Sani Abacha.
Keyamo's brush with the authorities has been audacious. He has been detained several times in prisons and cells across Nigeria on account of his crusades for justice, human rights and against corruption. This also led to his facing several Charges in Courts that were all dismissed.
Awards and accolades
In 2017, he was awarded the Global Human Rights Award by the United States Global Leadership Council in Washington for his efforts over the years in respect of protection and promotion of human rights and the crusade for accountable governments in Nigeria. He also received the award of Defender of Press Freedom Award on May 5, 2018 from the Nigeria Union of Journalists.
A man of amazing gusto and dogged spirit, his other honours include, Best Single Advocate of Nigeria Law Students, (Taslim Elias Moot Trial Competition) 1992; Best Lawyer, Gani Gawehimi Chambers (March, 1994); Honorary Alumni of various Students’ Associations; Activist of the year (2001) by the Students Union, University of Jos; Listed in the New Who is Who in Nigeria, 2003; and nominated for the World Medal of Honour, 2003, by the American Biographical institute, in 2005. He was conferred with the chieftaincy titles of Ogba-uri of Ogor Kingdom (Strong man of the law) 2005 and Omorokaro of Uvwie Kingdom (The child who leads the way) 2011 in Delta State but prefers to be called ‘Mr.’
He was once a weekly columnist with The Sun Newspapers. He is an ardent fan of Arsenal Football Club of England and Warri Wolves FC of Delta State.