Festus Keyamo: From Jehovah’s Witness to Buhari’s campaigner

Festus Keyamo

Lawyer and human right activist, Festus Keyamo, was recently appointed spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election campaign organisation. In 10 points, we trace his path from childhood to adulthood

  1. The name Festus

Festus Keyamo is named after his uncle who died of suspected poisoning at the age of 12. His father, Mathias Keyamo, had promised to name his first child after the deceased.


  1. Strict upbringing

Keyamo was raised as a Jehovah’s witness. One of his most vivid childhood memories is of him preaching from house to house in a pair of Cortina shoes and speaking to a crowd at religious conventions. He was not allowed any extracurricular activity and was forbidden from speaking to girls even as a secondary school student.

  1. Baby lawyer

He earned a reputation as a future lawyer during his evangelising days. After primary and secondary education in Delta State, he proceeded to the Ambrose Alli University at Ekpoma, in Edo State where he graduated with a bachelor of law degree in 1992 and was called to the Nigerian Bar on December 1993.


  1. Humble beginning

Keyamo said he was so broke on the day of his call to bar that he could not afford to take a picture. Some of his call mates include Speaker of the House of Reps, Yakubu Dogara, and Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson. His first accommodation in Lagos was a one-room apartment he shared with six others in Okokomaiko.

  1. Gani’s protégé

Keyamo began his legal career in 1993 at Gani Fawehinmi’s Chambers in Lagos State where he mixed law practice with legal activism. He spent two years with Gani before leaving to establish Festus Keyamo Chambers.


  1. Controversial clients

Some of his most controversial clients have included leader of the Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari; leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) Ralph Uwazuruike, and Olugbenga Adebayo, popularly known as Fryo, who was arrested in connection with the murder of former attorney-general and minister of justice, Bola Ige.

  1. Government lawyer

In spite of his criticism of successive administrations, Keyamo has worked for the Nigerian government, most notably as a prosecutor for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).


  1. Failed marriage

Keyamo got married in a quiet ceremony to Irene Isioma on May 15, 2004 in Benin City. The marriage, which produced two children, ended in a bitter divorce which made headlines in tabloids and regular newspapers.

  1. SAN, finally

He was conferred with the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2017 after previous disappointments. It was the first time his parents would attend any of his ceremonies. They missed his university matriculation, convocation and call to bar ceremonies because they had no money.


  1. Buhari’s campaign spokesman

The 48-year-old was on Monday, April 16, 2018, appointed director, strategic communications for President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization. His letter of appointment stated: “In your capacity, you are to be the spokesperson for the campaigns during the nomination process and also at the subsequent campaigns for the 2019 presidential elections.”