Biography of Justice Moses Bello’s Family
Justice Moses Bello was born into the family of the Late Bello Onoruoiza Eneji Salami Atta, a grandchild of Ogere of Ezuka Clan in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State, Nigeria. My lovely mother is known as Hajiya Sabitiyu Bello Yusuf Olowo-Bank, daughter of Yusuf Unoku Abogun of Aderini in Omoye Clan, Okene.
My father, Bello Onoruoiza Eneji Salami Atta was from Adavi Area of Ebira land in Kogi State. He built his house in Okene town and lived there. He however maintained close contact with his kinsmen in Adavi just as he did with his friends and neighbours in Okene.
His cordial relationship with people in Okene was highly impressive such that many thought he was a native of Okene town. He was very fond of his fellow Ebira while he lived. As for his family life, my father, like every other typical African of his time, was polygamous. He had two wives, my mother, and her mate.
My mother was the senior wife and my stepmother, Mama Jemi Bello, was the junior. At a point in his lifetime, my father, Bello O. E. S. Atta, served in the Nigerian Army. There was no clear record of his rank in the army before he retired voluntarily. Also not known, was the length of time he spent in the service.
All these were because the children, including myself, were still young then and we knew next to nothing about record keeping. However, there was very clear evidence that he did not only serve in the army, but was also equally a very gallant soldier.
For instance, the picture he took sitting on a horse in his army uniform which was seen for quite some time until it was misplaced in the family house, is a pointer to the fact that he actually served in the Nigerian Army otherwise called the Nigerian Regiment in those days.
Also, I could recall a conversation I had with him over a mark (scar) on his cheek. He told me that it was during his days in the army as a combatant soldier that he was shot and luckily for him, the bullet merely brushed his face, leaving a scar on his cheek till he left this world. This shows that he was a tested soldier, a Veteran of the famous Second World War. He did risk his life to defend humanity on the battlefield of Burma.
My father retired from the army into business just as other Veterans from Ebira such as His Royal Highness, Late Alhaji Mohammed Sani Omolori who came back to become the Paramount ruler (Ohinoyi of Ebiraland), and Chief Joseph Ohiani who also became a foremost politician and first Executive Chairman of Okehi Local Government Area in the Old Kwara State (now in Kogi State).
Similarly, the late Pa Yusuf Onuya (father to Professor Angela of the University of Abuja) was also among the retirees who, like my father, made effective use of their post-retirement years. When Pa Onuya came home, he inscribed into the Native Authority (NA) Police, retired in 1962 and went back into the Nigeria Army in 967, and again retired in 1971 as a sergeant.
My father engaged himself in some lucrative ventures that enabled him to meet personal and family obligations. He was based in the commercial city of Lagos. He was going from one establishment to the other in search of what he could either do or supply to them as a contractor.
At a time, he became so established that he would hire trucks to convey such products as limestone to Lagos Sea Ports. I grew to meet him doing the supply, especially to the Ports. He would go to Lokoja to purchase limestone and hire some vehicles which were called T.O. Benson Mercedes Benz 911 trucks to carry the limestone to Lagos.
He later diversified his business by going into the supply of building materials, such as sand, cement, and gravel among others. He was moving from one building site to another to meet the people handling construction projects and to request that he supplied those building materials.
My father was quite busy, energetic, and hard-working. It was obvious that he retired from the army young, strong, and healthy. He quit the stage (the army) when the ovation was loudest. If he had been old and worn out as was the case with many ex-servicemen, he would not have been as enterprising and energetic as he was. He died at slightly over 60 years of age, on June 18, 1986, when I was already a legal officer at the FCDA.
My mother Hajiya Sabitiyu Bello Yusuf Olowo-Bank, was born and bred in Lagos. The name, ‘Olowo-Bank’ which became part of my father’s name is a blend of Yoruba and English languages.
It literally means “Owner of bank money.” Thus, it could be deduced from this name that her father was equally a very enterprising man. He was a money lender; hence it became part of his last name. He was a local bank to his community, keeping their money and lending them some of it when they needed it. My mother was also a businesswoman who touched many lives.
My mother Hajiya Sabitiyu not only encouraged her husband to marry another wife, but she also masterminded the whole process till it became a reality.
She brought my stepmother to my father and they lived very peacefully together till she died on April 26, 2004; about 18 years after my father’s death. Her demise did not really shock me as she had earlier summoned me to Okene four days earlier to intimate me that her death was near and within 24 hours, she took ill.
It is obvious from the foregoing that I came from a family of modest means. Papa’s exit from the army at a reasonable age and his subsequent business success are worthy of emulation by the young generation. Similarly, my mother could best be described as a caring woman who assisted the less privileged. I learned a lot from my parents.
I have modeled my life after theirs. I cannot bear to see people suffer when help is possible. As my associates would always quote this Ebira adage, Ozi ezu, vi ezu. That is; a tiger begets a tiger.
I am happy to be carrying the torch they lit many years ago. I pray that my own children will continue the tradition of philanthropy and generousity.
Birth and Upbringing of Justice Moses Bello
I was born in the Ilupeju area of Lagos State in the early morning of Sunday, January 4v1953, and was named Abubakar Adviriku Bello.
That is why it is not surprising to hear a few of my contemporaries call me, Sunday. Upon conversion to Christianity and subsequent baptism and confirmation, I added Moses David to my name. Today, my full names are Justice Moses Abu Adaviriku David Bello (JP) OFR. My J.P is not just the popular Jerusalem Pilgrim.
I was also given an International award known as, Justice of the Peace. I am one of the nine children of my late father my mother had four While my stepmother had five.
My case is a very clear manifestation of the fact that there is something in the name I was named Moses upon my conversion to Christianity and now, people say I am living true to my name citing the Biblical Moses in the Christian scriptures. Moses in the scriptures is synonymous with law. He is said to be the custodian of the divine law referred to as, the Ten Commandments which were revealed to guide humanity.
In our early days in primary school, I could remember that our Christian teachers would give us a task to accomplish and we would be told to execute it according to the Law of Moses, meaning that it should be done following the rules diligently and religiously.
When I was in the Teachers’ college, years before I became a judge, friends called me ‘Lord’ or ‘another Moses of our time. They were only acknowledging my humble role in the maintenance of peace not only in my immediate continuity (Ebiraland) but beyond.
I feel highly humbled when people say that I am like the Biblical Moses. In spite of warning them against blasphemy, they would even stretch it as far as saying that I share some physical resemblance with the Moses they have seen in the illustrated Bible.
It always makes me a little uneasy because nobody really knows who the Biblical Moses actually looked like. The image we have today of him is a mere illustration. In any case, the Jewish Moses lived thousands of years ago and had no offspring that can be traced to Okene.
Before I was born in 1953, (precisely a year after late Ambassador Abdulmalik Atta and late Mr. George Ohikere were elected to the
Northern House of Assembly) my father never had a living male child. The male children died a few months after they were born. They died in their infancy before. Their 8th-day naming ceremony is in accordance with Muslim rites.
My family was worried because the birth of a male child in our society like many societies is most valued and the lack of a male child was like a curse. It was so serious that some people would even go into polygamy just in search of a male child. Others discontinue childbearing in order not to have more female children. So, it became so disturbing that virtually every member of my family had to go out of his/her way to look for a solution, albeit unorthodox, to what was considered then, a serious problem.
After due consultations with the oracles, my grand-uncle, Papa Ojeba had to send his eldest daughter, known as Inya Mechede, to Lagos to live with my parents, until the next pregnancy. It was believed that my aunt’s presence would bring my family good luck and that the next child would be a boy.
So, the woman, Inya Mechede, lived with my parents in Lagos for a couple of months and as fate would have it, my mother became pregnant soon after my aunt’s arrival. After nine months, she was delivered to a male child, my humble self. The long-awaited male child arrived! Did my aunt’s presence induce my arrival? Or was it just a coincidence? We can never tell. My parents believed, and it happened.
For this miraculous circumstance surrounding my conception and birth, I was born into the waiting hands of family members who were anxiously expecting a male child to be born into the family. I was loved by everybody in the family. They formed a very thick wall of protection around me.
I was treated like a prince. People were eager to care for me. I was attended to, very promptly whenever necessary. I was handled like an egg. I was surrounded by love and warmth but never spoilt.