Toye Coker

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Emmanuel Akitoye Akinbowale Olasumbo Coker was a Nigerian lawyer and son of an African independent Church pioneer, Jacob Kehinde Coker. While alive, he was an Abeokuta power broker and supported the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Lipede in times the latter was involved in local dispute though Coker's chief title that of Apena was bestowed on him by Lipede's predecessor.

His law firm was a training ground for many of the city's prominent lawyers. Coker engaged in various endeavors apart from being a trained lawyer, he was also a businessman, Egba chief, holding the title of Apena of Egbaland, and he also participated in politics. In the mid to late 1950s, he was chairman of Abeokuta Urban District Council and was later Agent General for the Western region in the United Kingdom.

Life

Coker was born to a polygamous family headed by Jacob Kehinde Coker, a founder of an African Church who was from Ipora Ake and was a member of the Ake Ruling House of Abeokuta. His mother was Victoria Jadesola Coker, the third wife of J.B. Coker.

He was educated at Abeokuta Grammar School and Lincolns Inns, London. Prior to entering the latter, he stayed with Kolawole Balogun while searching for a law school to attend. He completed his legal studies in 1954 and was subsequently called to the bar. He then returned to Nigeria and later set up a practice in Abeokuta.

Legal career

Coker's first major case was defending a door to door handbag seller who was bitten by a dog after the animal ran towards the seller after being commanded catch am by the owner, a white European. The seller, an Hausa man was severely injured and fell on the ground, the European came towards him and kicked him while down while warning him not to come to his residence again. Coker was able to secure victory for the handbag seller. He went on to have a productive legal career culminating with the conferment of a senior advocate of Nigeria on him in 1984.

Political activities

Coker's political career started in the 1940s when he joined the Nigerian Youth Movement. Throughout his life, he had a checkered political history, from the youth movement, he joined the Zikist movement but after returning from studies abroad, he became a member of the Action Group where he became a leader of the party in Abeokuta. During the second republic, he was a member of the National Party of Nigeria and was the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of the party. He was supported and was also a supporter of M.K.O. Abiola within the NPN when the latter was Ogun State party chairman and potential presidential candidate.

In the 1990s, Coker became a leading political supporter of the Alake of Egbaland during a royal rivalry in Abeokuta when calls sponsored by Oba Tejuosho challenged the royal status quo and made calls for equal power sharing in the Egba traditional chieftancy council and also challenging the supremacy of the Alake of Egbaland in Egba affairs.