Amazing! Awele Ideal, abandoned baby who became an award-winning lawyer

Amazing! Awele Ideal, abandoned baby who became an award-winning lawyer

Barrister Awele Ideal


Barr. Awele Ideal, the Principal Counsel of Ideal Chambers in Asaba, Delta State, is your typical embodiment of beauty, brain and brawn. The Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State-born award-winning lawyer comes as a bundle of raw audacity, resilience, street smartness, high-octane intellect, chutzpah and an indomitable spirit of derring-do which has seen her turn pain to gain and flip adversity to her own advantage. Coming from a tumultuous childhood, marked by abandonment at seven months and hardships from an abusive stepmother, she emerges as a beacon of triumph despite fierce headwinds in her early life. Undeterred by adversity, she forged a path to success.

Beyond her legal accomplishments, Ideal is a devoted child rights advocate, leveraging more than a decade of legal expertise to champion the cause of children facing abuse.

In an exclusive interview, Barr Awele Ideal, a multi-faceted pleasant persona, embodying roles as a lawyer, mother, golfer, activist, Rotarian and farmer, shares with Rita Oyiboka her remarkable journey to the summit, shedding light on the challenges encountered in the legal field and her unwavering commitment to empowering the vulnerable children.


What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I was ten years old when I decided to take my studies seriously and become a lawyer because I knew only education could take me away from my predicament. The decision made on that fateful night stemmed from profound pain. Despite being only two years older than my step sisters, I was shouldering all the household chores and suffering excruciating physical and verbal abuse. The night in question came with another dose of beating from my stepmother and she had also applied pepper to my vagina so you can imagine what I was feeling.

Can you talk more about your childhood experience and growing up with an abusive stepmother?

I was abandoned by my mother at the age of seven months and started living with my father and stepmother. My stepmother was mean. I endured all manner of maltreatment she meted at me. Sometimes I went hungry for days. She would so starve me until I would be seeing death. On one occasion, I was so hungry that I had to eat our dog’s leftover food.

Our neighbour’s son caught me eating it and he told his mother who later that evening invited me to her house and asked me if what her son said was true. I was so terrified that I begged her not to tell my stepmother, because she would kill me if she knew that I ate the dog’s leftovers instead of throwing it away.

The woman wept and promised to give me food every day without my stepmother’s knowledge, a promise she kept till we left the compound. As if starving me was not enough punishment, my stepmother would flog me mercilessly until I would faint at times. She would also apply pepper to my vagina, eyes, armpit and neck, tie me up and abandon me in one of the toilets for days without food.

Despite facing these challenges, I excelled academically and felt the love and favour of both God and people. To escape my difficult circumstances, I pursued educational success, earning a law degree from the Delta State University, attending the Nigerian Law School in Agbani, Enugu Campus, and obtaining a Master of Law (LLM) from the University of Benin, Edo State. The promise I made to myself during childhood continues to shape my life. I make it a daily practice to read at least two pages of a book and learn something new each day.

Was your childhood circumstances what motivated you to become a Child Rights advocate?

Certainly. I was born out of wedlock, and my mother, having other children with a different man, decided it was best for me to stay with my father. We didn’t reconnect until I was 17, and the opportunity to build a mother-daughter bond had passed. Unfortunately, my parents’ issues hindered them from providing me with the parental nurturing I needed. This led me to commit to preventing other children from experiencing what I went through, inspiring my involvement in child advocacy and the founding of the Ideal Child Foundation.

Tell us more about your child advocacy and foundation.

I’ve represented hundreds of children in abusive households. I’ve also established a haven for them, imparting values and advising against vices through seminars and workshops. My passion for children extends to being a member of the Delta State Child’s Rights Committee, where we advocate for children. Additionally, I contribute to the community as a member of the Rotary Club of Asaba Metropolitan.

Twelve years of lawyering, how has it been?

Lawyering is both my passion and hobby. I find joy in helping people in crisis and standing up for the oppressed. Despite challenges, including the struggle to attract clients, especially as a wife and mother, I believe in always standing out and vigorously promoting oneself.

Women in the legal profession often face stereotypes and may encounter sexual harassment.  I had to take a firm stand with one particular man who consistently crossed boundaries during business discussions. I took legal action, resulting in his arrest and a public apology.

I always advise young female lawyers to have strength of character and self-control, recognizing that pleasing every client is not feasible.

Can you share a particularly challenging case you worked on and how you approached it?

Lawyering involves handling challenging cases, especially in dealing with issues like marriage, custody disputes, and contract breakdowns, I have learned to approach the situation with empathy and aim for a friendly resolution.

One challenging case I handled was when my client faced arson charges for burning down someone’s house, supported by strong evidence like pictures and videos. The opposing party proposed settling out of court if my client agreed to sign an undertaking to stay away from his property. Despite my advice, my client insisted on going to court and ultimately lost, receiving a 15-year prison sentence. I regretted this outcome, knowing that settling could have spared him.

Similarly, in a case of unlawful wounding, my client received a seven-year sentence. Initially disheartened, I later realized that considering the severity of the crime, reducing the penalty to seven years was a significant achievement. Regardless of the outcome, my goal is always to give my best and protect my client’s interests.

What about your interest? Have you had cases that go against your moral beliefs?

I don’t have the world but I am contented. I cannot because of material pursuit take on a case that would give me sleepless nights or a guilty conscience. I once declined a pro bono case involving a client accused of defiling two young sisters, ages six and twelve, as I didn’t want to be associated with such a disturbing case, particularly as a mother of three young daughters.

Do you have mentors?

In my professional journey, mentors have been pivotal: My first boss, Chike Onyemenam SAN, imprinted the values of hard work and integrity onto my approach to the legal profession.

Justice Ogisi imparted a crucial lesson about the significance of gradual growth, cautioning against the perils of rushing, which may lead to failure.

Justice Marshall Umukoro emphasized that progression in the legal field correlates with age, underlining the essential role of hard work and integrity in sustaining one’s career.

The late Justice Oseji provided valuable insights into the importance of presentation within the legal realm, encompassing aspects from attire to case representation and even handwriting.

Barr. Dele Farotimi, a fearless human rights activist, served as a beacon of courage on platforms like Facebook, inspiring me in numerous ways.

Additionally, figures such as Barr. Tony Maidoh, Babatunde Ajibade SAN, Albert Akpomuje SAN, Jubril Okutekpa SAN, Charles Ajuya SAN, Offion Offiong SAN, J.B Daudu SAN, and others have played indispensable roles as my mentors. Their unwavering strength of character consistently propels me to strive for the best version of myself.

Barr Ideal the golfer


Lawyering is my foremost hobby. I also love farming. I have a banana and plantain plantation. I also have a yam, pepper, okra, corn and poultry farm. I love nature and I believe if you treat it kindly it will do the same to you. I also love golfing because it teaches you to keep your eyes on the ball and swing all the way. The principle of focus and consistency it teaches is why I have introduced my children to it.

Did you and your mother, and stepmother ever reconcile?

No, not really. My stepmother passed away in 2008. I was never close to my biological mother, who died in 2007. I never had the chance to taste her cooking. On Mother’s Day, I still feel a sense of loss, missing out on experiencing motherly love. This motivates me to be a devoted mother to my daughters, living my childhood through them and passing on the love I never received.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children?

Drawing from personal experience, I would emphasize the importance of empathy and active listening when working with children. To children in abusive households, my advice is to persevere and maintain a steadfast determination. Don’t let the hate and anger consume you, instead use it as a stepping stone towards success. Once you’ve reached a better place, try to help other children who may be going through similar situations. Remember, you are not alone in this and there is always hope for a brighter future.

Interview first publisher in Pointer Newspaper