•Personal Assistant shares his last moments
•My father was passionate about Nigeria —Jumoke, Akinjide’s daughter
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Adeola Badru & James Ogunnaike
IBADAN—FORMER Attorney-General and Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, yesterday, died at the age of 88.
The legal icon, who died around 1 am on Tuesday, was one of the oldest Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, in Nigeria.
He was born in Ibadan, on November 4, 1930.
The late Akinjide was the Minister of Education in the First Republic and later became the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice during the Shehu Shagari administration in the Second Republic.
How he died—Aide
His Personal Assistant, Alhaji Adediran Ademola, who was with him till he died, told Vanguard that Chief Akinjide breathed his last after a brief illness which lasted about a week.
Ademola said: “Chief Richard Akinjide died in the middle of the night. I was with him till around 6:30 pm yesterday. He ate his dinner and went to bed.
“But, at midnight, he developed complications and was rushed to the University College Hospital, Ibadan. But he was confirmed dead on arrival.”
On his last moment, he said the deceased only told him to prune the trees in his expansive compound.
My father loved Nigeria — Jumoke, Akinjide’s Daughter
While speaking on the death of her father, a former Minister of State of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Chief Jumoke Akinjide, said her father was concerned about how things had turned.
She said: “I can’t gather my thoughts now. He was the pillar of the family and was an inspiration to us and many.”
Asked what she would miss most about her father, Jumoke said: “I will miss everything. He was our mentor.
“He was very far wise beyond his years. He was very deep. When everybody has said their own, he would speak from an angle that nobody knew or thought about.
“One thing he imparted in us is excellence. He taught us to excel at anything we do. Even if you are a sweeper, he would say you should do it excellently well.”
Besides, Jumoke said her father loved Nigeria and was concerned about how things had turned, though hopeful that a new Nigeria would emerge.
She said: “He loved Nigeria. Of course, he was sad to see how things were turning out, the breakdown of institution, law, and order, economy and the social and ethnic fabric of the country.
“But he was always hopeful that we would overcome the challenges and Nigeria would emerge a great country that will lead the Black race eventually,” she said.
On how Chief Akinjide was interested in getting most of his children and grandchildren to study law, Jumoke said for her father, “law was his passion and politics, his hobby.”
Tributes pour in for late Akinjide
Those who paid glowing tributes to the late Akinjide are President Muhammadu Buhari, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; former President, Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressives Congress, APC, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere; the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji; former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja; former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; founder of Afe Babalola University, Aare Afe Babalola.
They described his death as a colossal loss to the country.
He used his rich experience in serving humanity—Buhari
President Buhari, who commiserated with the government and people of Oyo State over Akinjide’s death, said the late legal icon used his rich experience and knowledge in serving Nigeria and humanity.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said: “The President joins the Olubadan of Ibadan , Nigerian Bar Association and entire Judiciary in mourning the legal luminary, affirming that he used his rich experience and knowledge in serving the country and humanity.”
He was one of Nigeria’s best, brightest— Obasanjo
Reacting to Akinjide’s death, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said with Akinjide’s passing away, Nigeria had been robbed of “a shining star and one of its best and brightest.”
In a condolence letter addressed to the Akinjides, the former president said: “The life of Chief Akinjide is a testimony of a great service built on hard work to his community, profession and fatherland. Chief Akinjide was a titan in the study and practice of law as evident from a stellar career spanning almost the entire spectrum of the legal profession.
“His life as a most cerebral legal luminary; a profound thinker; a well-informed writer, an astute administrator and a die-hard patriot and democrat were most inspiring.
“It is indeed noteworthy that he was constant on Nigeria’s political scene for the better part of the past six decades, both as a passionate participant in both the executive arm of government and constitutional matters in the country and as an avid chronicler of our evolution as a people and a nation.”
His death, a great loss to Nigeria — Jonathan
Also, former President, Dr. Jonathan said: “He (Akinjide) was a forthright jurist and politician who served Nigeria meritoriously as Minister of Education and Attorney General of the Federation at different political eras.
“As a patriot and legal icon he worked to improve the nation’s jurisprudence. Chief Akinjide will be greatly missed by many members of our society, as he was an invaluable asset who contributed so much to the political development of our country. May God comfort the family and give them the strength to bear this loss.”
Senate President, Speaker mourn
Similarly, the Senate President, Senator Lawan said: “Nigeria will miss Akinjide’s sharp legal mind, broad knowledge and wisdom gathered over several decades of discipline and hard work.”
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gbajabiamila in a condolence message by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said: “Chief Akinjide was an embodiment of diligence and dedication to nationhood. He did not only live an exemplary life, but he also ensured that he used his knowledge and experience for the betterment of Nigeria.”
Ojo, ex-AGF mourns
On his part, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, said: “He was a very erudite and brilliant lawyer. He was a great leader of the Bar. His indelible contribution to the development of our jurisprudence and the legal profession is not in doubt. We shall all miss him.”
He was a brilliant advocate — NBA
Similarly, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in a statement by its National Assistant Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal, said: “It is with grave regret that the President of the NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN, received the news of the passing of Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN – an icon of the legal profession and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
“He was steeped in the ethics of the Bar, a brilliant advocate – one of the finest of the legal profession. His place in the history of the Nigerian legal profession is well secured.”
He was a legal beacon — Akeredolu
In his tribute, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said the late Chief Richard Akinjide combined attributes of thoroughness, strong character, discipline and forthrightness as well as a sustained penchant for hard work in his lifetime.
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo in Akure, said: “The news of the demise of our revered legal icon, Chief Richard Akinjide was received; and like many, the reaction was that of shock, pain, and despair.
“He combined attributes of thoroughness, strong character, discipline and forthrightness as well as a sustained penchant for hard work. The great man will be sorely missed by all.”
His death, a monumental loss —Olubadan
Reacting to the death, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Adetunji described it as a monumental loss to the nation.
Oba Adetunji said: “Chief Akinjide was a patriot who displayed a great love for his fatherland and her people.”
Buhari, Lawan, Gbaja, others mourn as Akinjide dies at 89
Also, the first caller at his Idi-Ishin residence, the Baale of Ekotedo, Chief Taiye Ayorinde said: “You came, you saw, you conquered. You made history in this country as a legal luminary. As an Ibadan man, you made Ibadan proud; as a traditionalist, you made your mark.”
He was a patriot—YCE
Secretary-General of Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said: “Chief Akinjide was passionate about the primary goal of the organization and remains the protection and promotion of Yoruba interest in a united progressive Federal Republic of Nigeria until his death. He remained committed to the Council’s goal.”
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said: “The bell has tolled for Chief Richard Akinjide after a full length. We pray that God will grant his soul eternal repose and protect the family he has left behind. He would always be remembered as a brilliant attorney with knowledge of the law.”
Afe Babalola pays tribute
In his reaction, Chief Afe Babalola said: “I have seen the departed Learned Brother of the Silk at close quarters. I have seen him at work and I have also seen him at play. I interacted with him in the court and outside the court and found him to be a genial and humble person who is sold to hard work.”
Also, former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, described Akinjide’s death as a great loss to Ibadanland and Nigeria.
Ladoja, through his Media Assistant, Alhaji Lanre Latinwo, said: “With the death of the legal icon, Nigeria has lost one of her best hands in the law profession.”
Akinjide was a professional expert—Ezeife
A former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife has described the late Akinjide as a professional expert and a highly respected Nigerian by people of different ethnic groups.
Reacting to the death, Dr. Ezeife said: “Richard Akinjide is one person I respected and other people respected him because of his expertise and professionalism. His death is a big loss to Nigeria.”
He was a pride of Ibadan and Nigerian— Ajimobi
Deputy National Chairman of the APC, and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in his reaction, said: “As a legal icon, he was the pride of Ibadan and the Nigerian society, proving his worth at different legal fora.
As a nationalist, he gave his best to the world of legal practice and the best came back to him in terms of recognition. He was indisputably recognized as a brilliant jurist and was deservedly accorded the honour. He was Queens Counsel, QC, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and a life bencher who brought his wealth of experience to the Nigerian Bar.”
Akinjide’s death as a colossal loss—Oyo PDP
Similarly, the PDP in Oyo State, in a statement described the death of Chief Akinjide as an irreplaceable loss and prayed God to grant the family he left behind the fortitude to bear the irredeemable loss.
In the same vein, the APC in the state noted that the death of Chief Akinjide has robbed Ibadan, Oyo State and Nigeria of another political titan.