Charles Onyeama

Charles Dadi Umeha Onyeama (August 5, 1917 – September 5, 1999) was Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria,[1] Judge at the International Court of Justice, and father of Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and writer Dillibe Onyeama.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Charles Onyeama was born in Enugu in 1917. He was initially taught at the Government School in Bonny and received his secondary education at King's College, Lagos. He later attended Achimota College in Ghana; University College, London; and Brasenose College, Oxford.[3] He became a member of Lincoln's Inn.[4]


In 1944, he became an assistant district officer in Lagos, followed by serving on the Legislative Council from 1944 to 1946. After being appointed Chief Magistrate in 1952, he became a Judge of the High Council in 1957.[3]

Onyeama served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from 1964 to 1967. His contemporaries on the Supreme Court included Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, Sir Lionel Brett, Sir Vahe Bairamian, Justice G.B.A. Coker, Justice M.O. Ajegbo, and Justice Chike Idigbe.[5]

After a series of unpopular judgements of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1966, African countries demanded greater representation amongst its judges. The seat dedicated to the Commonwealth and taken by an Australian judge was then taken by Onyeama after getting elected in November 1966, raising the number of African judges on the ICJ to two.[6] Onyeama served from 1967 to 1976 and was succeeded by Taslim Olawale Elias.[7]

He was appointed as a judge for the 1971 Beagle Channel Arbitration.[8]

From 1982 to 1990, he served as a judge at the World Bank Administrative Tribunal.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Onyeama was married and had five children.[3] He met his first child Warrick, fathered with a British woman, the first time aged six at a conference in 1948.[10]: 94  Onyeama married Susan Ozoamaka Ogugu in 1950,[10]: 182  their children are Dillibe (1951), Louis (1954), Geoffrey (1956) and Nneze (1958).[10]: 171 


  1. ^ "Supreme Court of Nigeria". Archived from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  2. ^ "'The racist questions I was asked at Eton'". BBC News. 2020-06-23. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  3. ^ a b c Consulate General of Nigeria (March 1967). "Nigerian Judge elected to World Court". Federal Nigeria. 11 (12): 38.
  4. ^ Meyer, Howard N. (2002). The World Court in action : judging among the nations. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 279. ISBN 0-7425-0923-0. OCLC 46858263.
  5. ^ Ibrahim, Abdulrasheed. "Remembering Judge Charles Dadi Onyeama". Newswatch Times. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ Mbengue, M. M.; Messihi, N. (2017). "The South West Africa Cases: 50 Years Later". Ethiopian Yearbook of International Law 2016. Springer: 11–35. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-55898-1_2. ISBN 978-3-319-55897-4.
  7. ^ "International Court of Justice - All Members". International Court of Justice. Archived from the original on 2016-02-05. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  8. ^ International law reports. Volume 52. Lauterpacht, Elihu,, Greenwood, C. J.,, Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law. Cambridge. 1979. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-521-46397-3. OCLC 1105758169.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ The development and effectiveness of international administrative law : on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal. Elias, Olufemi. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. 2012. pp. xv. ISBN 978-90-04-20437-9. OCLC 808442027.CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ a b c Akaraiwe, Ikeazor A. (Ikeazor Ajovi), 1962- (2001). Onyeama : eagle on the bench : an authorised biography of Nigeria's first Judge at the World Court, His Excellency, Judge Charles Dadi Onyeama, CFR, LL. D. (2nd ed.). Lagos: Touchstone Books. ISBN 978-35019-5-X. OCLC 52449965.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)