Professor Gabriel Adesiyan Olawoyin, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was born in Ile-Ife on 31 July 1939 to Mr. Joseph Adekanmi Perry Olawoyin and Mrs. Julianah Waleade Olawoyin (Nee Adewuyi) both of blessed memory. His father was born into the Giesi Royal Family of Ile-Ife while his mother was also a princess in the Oshikola Royal Family of Ile-Ife. His maternal grandfather, Prince Samuel Adetunji Adewuyi, the then Sooko Laekun of Ife, was the immediate senior full biological brother of the late Ooni of Ife, Kabiyesi, Alaiyeluwa Sir Adesoji Aderemi KBE.
He was baptized in St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Iremo, Ile-Ife, on 2 November 1941, while he became a communicant at St. David’s Anglican Church (now Cathedral) Ogbomoso in 1957, during his Secondary School days.
Following his primary education in the Royal School, at 135 Iremo Road, Ile-Ife; (His maternal grandfather’s private school) African School, Ilesa; African School, Oke-Eso, Ile-Ife and Central School, Ilare, Ile-Ife, Professor Olawoyin went to Oduduwa College in September 1951 before proceeding to Ogbomoso Grammar School in January 1953. He completed his secondary education in December 1958 when he passed the West African School Certificate examination in the First Division and emerged as the best overall candidate in Ogbomoso Grammar School which had a 100% success rate for its final year students in that year.
For a brief period in 1959, he was in Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta where he registered for the Higher School Certificate Course. He was admitted to the University of Ibadan later that year for an honours degree programme in Mathematics and Geography. However, fate dictated his decision to opt for law as a result of which he left for England on 10 August 1961 for the proverbial “golden fleece”.
Between 1959 and 1961, he worked as a Federal Civil Servant in Lagos, an accounts clerk with the Nigerian Breweries, Iganmu, Lagos, a teacher in Origbo Community High School, Ipetumodu, Osun State and statistics clerk with Total Oil Products Limited in Lagos before he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom to study law. Following his success in the G.C.E Advanced Level Examination in London in January 1962, he was at the London School of Economics and Political Science from October 1962 to September 1966 during which period he obtained the Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws Degrees of the University of London.
He returned to Nigeria in October 1966 and immediately joined the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) as an Assistant Lecturer in Law on 1 November 1966.
Between September 1968 and September 1970, Professor Olawoyin was on study leave in the University of Bristol where he got his Ph.D. in Law in July 1970.
He returned to the University of Ife in October 1970 as a Lecturer Grade II. A year later he was promoted from Lecturer Grade II to Lecturer Grade I. He was appointed Senior Lecturer in Law in October 1974.
In June 1975 Professor Olawoyin was called to the Nigerian Bar following his performance as the Best Overall Student in the Nigerian Bar Examination of that year winning three of the available four prizes awarded by the Nigerian Law School that year.
His first major experience as a practicing lawyer was in 1976 when he represented the then University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) before the Akanbi Tribunal, headed by the Honourable Justice Muhammad Akanbi, which investigated the circumstances leading to the collapse of the hostel buildings in that University.
Professor Olawoyin’s experience/exposure at that Tribunal was the turning point in regard to his earlier resolution to launch out into full-time private legal practice. That singular, but crucial, experience led to his firm decision to quit full-time academics for legal practice as soon as he clocked fifteen (15) years as a University teacher by 1981. His fifteen-year services to the then University of Ife witnessed a few interesting and sometimes heart-warming experiences which have combined to assist him tremendously in his God-directed life.
On 12 May 1978, he had the distinction of being appointed as the first Nigerian Professor of Business Law. From October 1980 to March 1981, Professor Olawoyin served as the First Visiting Research Professor at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Lagos. He retired from University teaching in October 1981 since when he has been in full-time private legal practice as the Principal Partner in the law firm of Olawoyin & Olawoyin in Lagos.
While in private legal practice, Professor Olawoyin served as a Part-time lecturer at the Nigerian Law School from 1981 to 1982 and the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos from 1986 – 1988.
Over the years, Professor Olawoyin has served as either Chairman or Member of various Boards or Committees at the Local, State and Federal Government levels. These include the Chairmanship of Ife/Ijesa Zonal Health Board and membership of the Western State/Oyo State Health Council from 1975 to 1978; membership of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, Lagos from 1984 – 1986; membership of the Consultative Assembly on the Review of Company Law in Nigeria in 1990; membership of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Coal Corporation from 1991 to 1993 and membership of the Study Group on Legal Issues Relating to the Privatisation and Commercialisation of Government Enterprises in 1992. He is a foundation member of the Board of Trustees of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State. He has since August 2012 been the Chairman of the Governing Council of Osun State University, Osogbo.
He has also been a director of a few banks and companies in the private sector as well as the Vice-Chairman of ICC Nigeria. He is currently the Chairman of the Arbitration Commission of ICC Nigeria and a member of the Board of ICC Nigeria.
In September 1998, Professor Olawoyin was called to the Inner Bar as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Since May 2000, he has been a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris where he sits on a few occasions every year. Furthermore, he is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration in Paris. He is also a member of the Board of the Centre for Law and Business headed by the Honourable Justice Kayode Eso until his death in 2012.
Since 2005, Professor Olawoyin has been the Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Ife. The duties and responsibilities of that office have given him a world-view of the activities of the Anglican Church in both the spiritual and secular realms.
He is happily married to his wife of fifty years, Mrs. Agnes Arike Olawoyin (Nee Oladini) and they are blessed with children and grandchildren all of whom have given them tremendous joy.