Louis Mbanefo

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Louis Nwachukwu Mbanefo was a former Supreme Court judge and Chief Justice of Eastern Nigeria. During the nation's pre-independence period, he could arguably be described as one of Ndi'Igbo's leading leaders. He was the first Igbo lawyer and judge in the nation. During the early 1950s, he teamed up with Alvan Ikoku to form the United Naional Paty. In 1950, he won an election to represent the political vibrant city of Onitsha in the Eastern House of Assembly as an independent candidate.


Early life and education

Louis Mbanefo was born in Odojele Village in the larger Onitsha district. His father, Odu Mbanefo was a traditional chief. He attended Methodist Boys High School, Lagos and King's College where he became the senior prefect. After finishing his secondary education, he left the Nigerian shores and went to the United Kingdom to read law at the University of London. After he was called to the bar, he went further in his studies and got a B.A. in history at Cambridge. He subsequently returned to Nigeria and set up what became a thriving practice in Onitsha.

Political and judicial career

Success as a lawyer was not everything Mbanefo craved, he also wanted to serve the people, in particular the people of Onitsha. He contested and won a seat on the Onitsha Town Council where he was able to lead a few notable projects in the city including the expansion and construction of the Onitsha market. He later won a seat in 1950 to the Eastern House of Assembly. However, a few years later, he was appointed a federal court judge. (1)

By 1959, he was appointed to the Nigerian Supreme Court and in a few years, he was made the Chief Justice of Eastern region of Nigeria.


  • (1) Ekong Sampson. Remembering Sir Louis Mbanefo, Thisday, April 2, 2002.