Gilbert Chukudike Nonyelu was a prominent Port Harcourt lawyer and politician during the early 1950s when he was president of the Port Harcourt Town Council and represented the city at the Eastern House of Assembly. He later went on to become director of public prosecutions.
Nonyelu was born on September 3, 1914 to the family of Josiah Nwezidunma. He was a gradaute of the Government School, Aba, Hope Waddell Training Institute, Igbobi College, and the Yaba Higher College.
In the 1950s, he was a vice president of the Action Group for the Eastern region.
He was appointed a member of the Queens Council by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He set up and established a practice in Port Harcourt as his headquarters after gaining a law degree in London (Lincoln's inn) and by the late 1950's to early 1970's, he was one of the most highly sought after lawyers around Nigeria. He was known as a "lion" in court for winning most cases. He specialized in Land law, Contract law and Constitutional law. He played an active role in Eastern Nigeria politics.
Fondly known as "Barrister GC" both nationally and internationally, he assisted in the fight to Nigeria's independence prior to 1960 and drafted a few of Nigeria's constitutions. He was highly respected by his European legal peers and was appointed as an adviser to attend the London conference on the Nigerian constitution in 1953. In attendance was also the Hon. Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro Esq, S.O Shombare, Esq amongst others.
In an Article written on 17 January 2011, titled "Appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court", G.C. Nonyelu "Q.C", Dr N.B. Graham-Douglas "Q.C", Dr Tasilimi A. Elias "Q.C", Dr Udo Udoma "Q.C", Chief G.C.M Onyiuke "Q.C", (to name but a few) were said to be "Legal giants who achieved their individual fame and pre-eminence in the legal profession by sheer dint of hard work, and perseverance coupled with the highest sense of integrity as well as total commitment to the ethics of the legal profession. These were men of honour who contributed immensely towards the rapid development of the present day legal system and practice in the country, which is rated as second to none in the entire continent of Africa."
He was a private, reserved man. He died in 1972 after the civil war.
He was survived by his wife, Emilia Adaku Nonyelu and their five children.