By Kayode Adeoti
Apart from the fact that Kwara state is renowned for Arabic and Islamic studies, the state has also carved a niche for itself as an enclave of influential legal practitioners.
Today, the state of harmony can boast of indigenes who have made their names and excelled in law practice. According to some pundits, Kwara state is reputed for producing the highest number of legal practitioners and Senior Advocates of Nigeria in the country.
While some of the influential lawyers in the state find it convenient staying off the limelight for modesty or other personal reasons. They live their lives far from the public glare to make themselves relatively unknown. True success they say, is not always hidden rather, it is inconspicuous though subtle.
Recent analysis conducted by Pilot Law however revealed 10 most influential legal luminaries in Kwara state. Below are their brief backgrounds.
Abdulrazaq Ganiyu Folorunso: Abdulrazaq, who is popularly known as AGF, is a figure to be reckoned with in the Nigeria Judiciary. He is one of the pillars of legal practice in Nigeria, being the first lawyer from Northern Nigeria and the first Attorney General of the region. He was the gubernatorial candidate of the Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP) in 1979. He was called to the Inner Temple, London in 1955. He was also the first Northerner to be gazetted, as a substantive High Court Judge in 1968, an appointment which he politely declined. A graduate of Trinity College, University of Dublin, Alhaji Abdulrazaq holds a BA Hons, LLB, MA and H.Dip-Educ. He attended the Kalabari National College, Buguma, and the Africa College, Onitsha, where he was contemporary of Prof Ben Nwuabueze, SAN.
Salman Alarape Aliyu: Dr. Aliyu Alarape Salman (SAN), a life bencher, is a Doyen among Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) in Kwara State, the fourth oldest SAN in the North, 56th in Nigeria and the first SAN produced by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1968 and conferred with SAN rank in 1987. The legal luminary has produced many lawyers in the state in which two of them are former chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch, Kwara State. He is a prominent member of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU). He was the one who handled the controversial matter of Baba Agba Vs. Galadima, the case he won at the Supreme Court. He is still in practice and the principal partner of Aliyu Alarape Salman & Co
Saka Abimbola Isau: Saka Abimbola Isau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was at different times Secretary to the State Government and Commissioner for Justice as well as Attorney-General of Kwara State during the immediate past administration of Governor Bukola Saraki. Though he may not have built castle or mansion, but to many people, Isau is a silent millionaire with international connections and influence. He was also a gubernatorial aspirant for the 2019 general election under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Isau, who hails from Ilorin West Local Government, is reputed for humanitarian services, especially in legal aspect. He was part of the team that defended and won the case of alleged false declaration of asset against the Senate President from the Code of Conduct Bureau to the Supreme Court.
Adebayo Oba Adelodun: Adelodun is one of the leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Kwara who has made so much impact in litigation. When it comes to election petition, Adelodun is the most sought after in Kwara State. To some people, he is a Government Lawyer that handles all government related cases and who has connections and influence with many top government functionaries across the country. Adelodun had his Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) between 1979 and 1982, he also obtained his Master of Law (LL.M.) between 1999 and 2000.
Prince Lateef Fagbemi: Prince Fagbemi hails from Ijagbo, Oyun Local Government Area of the state. He is equally a Senior Advocate of Nigeria that practices in Ibadan, Oyo State. He is regarded as one of the richest legal practitioners that hails from the state. It was gathered that he made his influence through election petition cases. He is the one who handled the case of Rotimi Amechi, the then Rivers State governor . He is an asttute legal practitioner and a simple man. He was called to bar in 1984.
Ali Ahmad: Rt. Hon. Ali Babatunde Ahmad is currently the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly. Though born in Kaduna, he is of Ilorin, Kwara State parentage.
Talking of influence, Ali has got it all, this is sequel to the political offices he has served both in the state and at the Federal level. He was onetime House of Representatives member and currently the leader of the state House of Assembly. According to some pundits, Ali is one of those that dictate things in Kwara polity.
He holds an LLB (Hons) degree from Bayero University, Kano graduating as the best Graduating Law Student, and was called to Bar in 1989. He was also called to the New York Bar at Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and his doctor of Juridicial Science (SJD) at the George Washington University Law School, Washington DC, IN 2000. He was a law lecturer at Faculties of Law at Bayero University, Kano and University of Ilorin, where he rose to become Associate Professor and Acting Dean of Law.
Kamaldeen Ajibade: He is the current Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of the state. Ajibade is the longest serving AG in the history of Kwara State. He attained the highest pinnacle of his profession last year as Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he has joined the league of most influential barristers in the state. Findings revealed that he is humble, though with international connections. He is part of the legal counsels that handled the Senate President’s case. Another thing that made Ajibade synosure of the eyes in the legal practice is his large heart. According to some of his colleagues, no lawyer in Kwara do Pro Bono cases like him.
He set up his own law firm, A.K. Ajibade & Associates in 1989. Ajibade was fully into private practice till 2007, when he was given a political appointment by the Kwara State government as senior assistant on Legal Matters during the administration of former governor Bukola Saraki.
Apart from holding political offices, Ajibade had worked in many other capacities to enhance the development of the state. While he was SA on Legal Matters, he was directed in 2009 to go and revamp the Kwara State Investment and Property Development Company which he did till 2010.
Also, during Saraki’s administration, he was moved to Bureau of Land to help shore up the state revenue.
Dr Ruth Biola Adimula: She is a Barrister and a Peace Scholar. She is another powerful figure in the law practice with so much influence both in the public and private sectors. She is currently the most successful female lawyer in Kwara State who made her fame in property law. To some of her colleagues, she is a ‘property lawyer’ and a scarce face in litigation. She is also an aide of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
She obtained her Ph.D in Peace and Development Studies, with bias in Gender, refugees and internally displaced persons, where she has extensive academic research. She holds a LL.M of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (2004), Called to the Nigerian Bar in 1993 and LL.B (1992, ABUZ). She is the Principal Partner, Biola Adimula & Co., Ilorin, Nigeria, a Firm of Legal Practitioners established since 1995; she also lectures at Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin.
A Fellow of the Commonwealth, UK (2010) and the President of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows Alumni Association, Nigeria; a Rotary Peace Fellow (class 23) of the Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand (2017); an Ambassador, Institute for Economics and Peace, Sydney (2018). She is presently a Consultant, Senate Committee on Constitutional Review of Federal Republic of Nigeria and Publicity Secretary- Society for Peace Studies and Practice, Nigeria.
Lawal Rabana: He is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983. He became a Life Bencher in 2011. He has been in different teams for review of law and panel of enquiries. Rabana has served as the General Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association (National 2006-2008), Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin Branch, and in different committees of the Nigerian Bar Association. He was a member of Federal Judicial Service Commission from 2008- 2013 and member of Body of Benchers disciplinary Committee from 2009 – 2015. Rabana is a member of several professional bodies such as Fellow of Chattered Institute of Arbitrators of the UK and Nigerian chapter). He has handled very contentious cases up to the Supreme Court.
Moshood Shehu Atagisoro: He is also a renowned lawyer that has made his name in litigation. Atagisoro according to findings centres majorly on election petition. Atagisoro was said to be one of those who handles Federal Government cases. The legal luminary is also said to be a philanthropist who has impacted many lives, including that of law students. It was gathered that he has certain number of students he sponsor at the law school every year.
He had his LL.B at Ahmadu Bello University in 1990 and also secured his LL.M in the University of Lagos between 1997 and 1998.