End of an era as pioneer ICPC boss Justice Akanbi buried amidst tears in Ilorin


…we know his time was up, couldn’t talk for 4 days – Children

By Kayode Adeoti

At the wee hours of yesterday, a foremost jurist surrounded by his children, grand children and relatives, breathed his last at a private hospital in Ilorin, bidding the world, goodbye.
The descriptions above depict the last moment of the pioneer chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Adebayo Akanbi who died around 2am on Sunday (coincidentally, the jurist was born on Sunday) at the age of 85 after a protracted illness.
According to Kabir Akanbi, his last son who was with the jurist all through at the hospital, the jurist was said to have pronounced Lahaola Wala Kuwata Illabillahi Ilhaliyu Li-Assim (meaning there is neither power nor ability except by Allah).
Akanbi’s death was coming three years after he lost his wife, Munf’atu Akanbi in an Indian hospital at the age of 68 following a brief illness.
According to a source within the family, the highly revered jurist was some years ago diagnosed of cancer and had been battling the ailment until he finally lost the battle at the weekend.
Speaking further, the source said Justice Akanbi was flown to the United Kingdom for treatment in 2014 and since his return; he had been recuperating until recently when his health relapsed and he had to be taken to a private facility in Ilorin for medical attention.
“For quite a while, Baba Akanbi had been ill, hence the reason the children ensured they were always around him. They knew his time was near but it was hard to let go, so they fought the battle with the hope of sustaining his life.
“About two weeks ago, he was taken to a private hospital at Fate and later to Olanrewaju hospital at Sabo Oke area where he finally gave up the ghost,” he disclosed.
Speaking with our reporter, Kabir Akanbi who is an Abuja-based lawyer said he was with the deceased all through his time on the sick bed. He further described his father as a Spartan saying if he could turn back the hands of time to come back to life again, he would still have chosen Justice Akanbi as his parent.
Speaking on his father’s unfulfilled dreams, Kabir said he had wanted to build a University and invest more on education.
“My dad had wanted to set up a University but he did not have the fund, he also believed in scholarship and charity.”
On his last moments, he said for about four days before his death, Justice Akanbi couldn’t talk nor eat.
“I was very close to him, I had course to follow him almost everywhere for about four years now. I was in the United Kingdom with him for a while, Abuja several times too; it was his wish to go to Ghana before he died. Each time I had to leave my station to stay with him and I enjoyed doing it. These are things I’m going to miss.
“Now, I don’t have mother again, my father is gone, that makes things more difficult but we give praise to Allah. Before he died, I had no issue with him, he was very happy with us all us.”
Also, his eldest child, Akeem Akanbi said he had premonition of the death of the former presiding judge of Court of Appeal following his deteriorating health.
Akeem who is also a director at the Court of Appeal, said, “His death is a colossal lost. Though I’m not in the best frame of mind to talk much on this but we all saw it coming. Nobody wanted him to die but we cannot cheat death.”
Similarly, Mohammed Mustapha Akanbi, a professor of Law at the University of Ilorin, while speaking with this medium stressed that his father lived an incorruptible life.
“He was my father, I’m not sure an interview will capture the description of what he meant to me. On my Facebook page I wrote, ‘Iroko has fallen’ he was many things to me; very generous, strict, a fighter and above all, he was incorruptible.”
He however screamed when confronted with the question of how the former ICPC boss had impacted discipline in him “Ah! He was a disciplinarian to the core,” he subsequently burst into tears.
Also, Dr. Shehu Ismail Akanbi, a lecturer at the department of Agric/Economics, University of Ilorin said, “I knew the end was near, so I said prayer for him, and when I was rounding up, he ended it with me.”
Speaking further, he said it is sad that he is now an orphan before he turned 50.
“Today, I have no father and mother again but I would have wished Baba was alive to celebrate my 50th birthday with me by December 3rd.”
Magistrate Tanwa Saliu Akanbi is the youngest of Justice Akanbi’s children but she has continued to follow the path of the former Senior State Counsel. Speaking on her father’s demise, Tanwa said, “I don’t know how I’m going to cope with his absence, after God in my life, he was next. He was a pillar of custom and that means a lot in my life. I was in the hospital with him and I looked at him at a time, I knew he was going. Thank God I’m taking after him, he was a member of the bench and I’m now a magistrate,” she stressed.

His burial

The jurist was buried according to Islamic injunctions 2:30 pm, yesterday, at his Agba Dam residence, GRA, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The Chief Imam of Ilorin, Alh. Mohammed Bashir Soliu led other Islamic clerics in the Janazat for the deceased.
The former Grand Kadis of the state, Alhaji Ganiyu Orire and Alhaji Soliu Olohuntoyin who were part of the dignitaries at the Janazat both beseeched Allah for divine protection over the children and relatives of the deceased.
They further charged the Muslim faithful to always be cautious of the fact that death is inevitable for all.
Fidau for Justice Akanbi will hold at the Metropolitan Square, Asa Dam road, next Sunday.
On the roll calls of dignitaries at the burial are; the former Secretary to the State Government, Alh. Saka Onimago, Alhaji Ayinla Folorunsho, Yinka Aluko, Ayo Salami, Justice Timothy Oyeyipo, Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem Age, Alfa Belgore, representative of Emir, Kwara CJ, Justice Sulyman Kawu, Sulyman Alarape, Attoney General, Barr. Kamaldeen Ajibade SAN, Salman Adelodun, Prof. Abdulwahab Oba and Rector, Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, Alh. Mas’ ud Elelu.
Justice Akanbi was born on Sunday 11th September, 1932. He obtained a scholarship to study Law at the Institute of Administration, now Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and afterwards, he proceeded to the United Kingdom for his legal studies and was called to the English Bar in 1963. In 1964, he was called to the Nigerian Bar.
The late judge joined the Ministry of Justice and became a Senior State Counsel in 1968.
In 1969, he set up a private practice in Kano and on October 2, 1974, he was appointed a judge of the Federal Revenue Court of Appeal Bench. Three years later, January 1, 1977 to be précised, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal.
In 1992 he was made President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal, a position he held until retiring in 1999. Justice Akanbi was also Chairman of the Body of Benchers from 1995 to 1996.
In 2002, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as the pioneer chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). He however retired after completing his term in 2006. While he was the ICPC boss, he complained about not being able to combat corruption in the country as he had wished due to the act that established the agency.
As at July, 2005, the commission had prosecuted 85 persons in which only two convictions were secured.
Justice Akanbi is survived by six children out of whom four are in the legal practice.

…how he said goodbye to us – Olaolu Ali

Speaking with our reporter on his last meeting with the jurist, a prominent lawyer in the state, Barr. Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN) said “my last moment with him was 24 hours ago, though he couldn’t talk but he saw us and while we were leaving, his eyes were roving and he was looking at us going.
“I was privileged to see him up to 4:30pm on Saturday. Though I wouldn’t know if he had premonition of his death but at that level, we knew his clock was ticking away.”
He described Akanbi as a quintessential jurist, a detribalised Nigerian, a Pan Africanist and incorruptible.
“He was a model for all those who aspire for the best in the society. There is no human being that doesn’t have dreams of tomorrow. Death catches anyone by surprise. I’m sure he had many unfulfilled dreams especially on these pet projects like Mustapha foundation and the rest.”

Baba Akanbi was fearless, father to me – Saraki

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki yesterday, expressed grief over the passing of the former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, describing him as a father figure.
He added that the demise of the jurist was a personal loss to him.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu in Abuja, stated that the late Akanbi was  an indefatigable, honest and principled jurist who upheld the ethics of the judicial process till he breathed his last.
“I am sad that Baba (Akanbi) has left us. He was fearless, courageous and spoke truth to power during his lifetime.
“He was like a father to me. His death is a personal loss. Kwara State will miss him, Nigeria will miss him,” Saraki said.
He added that the late Akanbi would be remembered for his unquenchable zeal to restore the principles of transparency and accountability in the country through the fight against corruption.
“He was incorruptible jurist whose judgements could hardly be faulted while on the bench. During his stint as the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), he fought corruption with uncommon passion and courage.
“After leaving office as the ICPC boss, he again joined the board of the Justice and Law Enforcement Reformation Organisation- a non profit organisation – to continue his anti-corruption crusade. Besides, he later established Mustapha Akanbi Foundation, in furtherance of his quest to strengthen the culture of transparency, accountability and good governance in the country,” Saraki stated.
While praying Almighty Allah to grant the soul of the departed a place among the righteous ones, in Aljannah Firdaus adding that he will continue to draw inspiration from the fact that late Justice Akanbi did not only live a  worthy life but was a great blessing to his generation.

…Nigeria has lost one of its finest, says Gov Ahmed

The Kwara State Governor,  Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed has described as shocking and devastating the passing of Justice Mustapha Akanbi (CFR).
Ahmed in a condolence message issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba said the state and indeed Nigeria has lost a rare gem, philanthropist and revivalist.
“Justice Akanbi’s years in the bench as an incorruptible judge, his stint at ICPC, struggle for good governance and involvement in community services would remain indelible in the history of Nigeria”, Dr Ahmed said.
The governor explained that his philanthropist gesture and investment in education, which is a key component of human capital development, will be greatly missed by all.
Governor Ahmed described Justice Akanbi as a true Nigerian, Pan Africanist and lover of his community with exceptional penchant for the advancement of humanity irrespective of race, ethnicity and religious belief.
According to the governor, Late Justice Akanbi was an epitome of humility, uprightness, honesty and discipline whose virtues would remain exemplary to generations to come.
Gov Ahmed recalled that Justice Mustapha Akanbi was among eminent Kwarans honoured by the state last year for his contributions to national development during the 50th anniversary.
“The state and indeed the entire country is grieved that it has lost one of its finest. The state is saddened that the outstanding contributions of the elder statesman will be sorely missed. But we take solace that Justice Akanbi lived a pious, modest and exemplary life worth of emulation”.
He however prayed Allah to grant the truly incorruptible Judge Aljanat fridaus and give the family, the Ilorin Emirate, Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole the fortitude to bear the loss.

…Buhari, Atiku, NBA, others eulogise departed jurist

Reacting to the demise of the late jurist, President Muhammadu Buhari paid tributes to Justice Akanbi describing him as a man whose asset in life was his enviable integrity and incorruptibility.
Buhari said the departed Akanbi will be long remembered for his enormous contributions in bringing credibility and respectability to the country’s judiciary.
He noted that the death of  the pioneer ICPC chairman is a colossal loss not only to the Nigerian judiciary but the country as a whole.
According to Buhari, “being respected by the people for your honesty and patriotism is the best legacy a man can leave behind.
“In a country where corruption is perceived as fashionable, Akanbi stood out as a remarkable man who put personal integrity and selflessness before the desire for money outside his legitimate income.”
He added that Akanbi’s greatest achievement was leaving the public office with his integrity intact and untainted, noting that throughout his distinguished career in judiciary and public service, he resisted the defeatist mindset that “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
The President however prayed that Almighty Allah will forgive the gentle soul of the deacsed and reward his remarkable good deeds.
Also, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar on his twitter handle @atiku yesterday said, “the late Justice Mustapha Akanbi occupied an eminent seat on the Bench as an anti-corruption advocate.”
He however condoled with his family and the people of Kwara State on the loss of a patriot and patriarch.
Similarly, the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Dr. Ali Ahmad described Justice Akanbi as one of the best judges ever produced by the Nigeria judiciary.
A condolence message issued by the Speaker’s Special Assistant on Media, Shuaib AbdulKadir said the late jurist was an icon of Nigeria’s judiciary, stressing that his demise was a colossal loss to the nation.
The Speaker noted that Akanbi who was the pioneer chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) was acknowledged for his deep knowledge in law, disciplined personality and as an incorruptible jurist per excellence.
Ahmad added that throughout Late Justice Mustapha Akanbi’s sterling career as a judge, he rendered selfless service to the country and several years after his retirement lawyers still revere him as a result of his expertise in the field of law.
These qualities, according to him, made former President Olusegun Obasanjo to appoint Late Justice Akanbi as pioneer Chairman of ICPC shortly after Nigeria’s return to civil rule.
Ahmad described the late Wakilin of Ilorin Emirate as one the personalities who contributed significantly to the growth and development of Ilorin in particular and Kwara State at large.
He then consoled the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu Gambari, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, his family and Kwarans over the loss of one of the illustrious sons of the state.
Similarly, the National Publicity Secretary, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has commiserated with the family of Justice Mustapha Akanbi who passed on this morning at 85.
Mallam Abdullahi said the passage of Justice Akanbi is a painful and irreplaceable loss to the Ilorin Emirate, Kwara State and Nigeria as a whole.
He described the late Akanbi as a man of peace, integrity and honour who, as a lawyer and judge, contributed greatly to the development of Nigeria’s legal system.
‘’His tenure as the first Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) provided a solid foundation for the organisation and recorded several cases of prosecution of corrupt persons.
‘’The late Justice Akanbi was incorruptible, Spartan and fair to all. Though he had a pan Nigerian outlook, he was very passionate and committed to issues of development of Kwara State.”
Also, wife of the Senate President, Barr. Toyin Saraki, expressed shock over the demise of the jurist who was the pioneer chairman of the ICPC.
Similarly, a lawmaker representing Asa/Ilorin West at the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Razak Atunwa, (@Atunwa_1) said, “The death of Justice Mustapha Akanbi is quite painful. As a Judge, his judgements were of unimpeachable reasoning. His integrity was unquestionable. He was close to my late father and continued to be a father figure till his sad demise. May Allah grant him Aljanat Firdaus.”

Eminent Kwarans mourn

Saka Isau (SAN) (Former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice)
I received the news of his death with shock. No doubt, he’s old enough but we never wanted him to go but death is inevitable. He was very useful to the state, family and Nigeria. We just have to accept it as the act of God, because from God we come and to him we shall return. Everybody must go back and Justice Akanbi has done so. We pray for his soul to rest in peace.
Oba Abdulkadri (Grand Kadi)
Justice Akanbi will be missed for many things because he had been a man of many parts in this country. He laid the foundation of ICPC which other chairmen were building on. Though he had died but this community cannot forget him. The life he lived was worthy of emulation, he had set a righteous path in the judiciary sector. He was a philanthropist; he gave out whatever he had. If you go to him with tears, you will come back rejoicing.
Kehinde Eleja (SAN)
Baba was a great jurist of repute; he was a father to many people both on the bench and young lawyers. He was a detribalized Nigeria. He was somebody given to assisting others. I will describe him as a God fearing person, very accommodating. He impacted in the judiciary as much as he impacted the community. Been appointed chairman of the ICPC was not a coincidence and of course, he did his best. We only pray almighty God accepts his soul to paradise and uphold the family
Prof Ishaq Oloyede, (JAMB Registrar)
He was very dependable and forthright, a just justice; he was honest even to the extreme. He was somebody very kind and passionate about functional education. He was both in the open and in the secret committed to his God, deeply religious, and that was why he stood for justice, he was contempt with what he had. He was a model to whoever wants to leave an enduring life. When he talked, you will know he was not just a lawyer, but a Pan Africanist, a unionist and comrade. Some few weeks ago when we were talking about labour matter, you will still see in him, strong zeal to effect a change about certain things. A nation should borrow honesty from him. I thank God for his children who are equally forthright.
Isaa Manzuma (NBA chairman)
The death of honourable justice Akanbi has created a great vacuum in the legal profession that will be very difficult to fill. It pains us as a legal body because Baba was always there for us. I pray almighty shall forgive his soul and protect the family. Members of the legal profession have a lot to learn from his death that what is important in life is honesty, patriotism and high sense of responsibility.
DPP Abdulmumini Adebimpe
His death was nothing but a colossal lost to the judiciary body. We just pray that Allah should forgive him.
‘Wale Babalakin (SAN)
His death was quite painful but what can we do? Despite the fact that he died at this age, we still don’t want him to go because a reservoir of knowledge. The legacies he left behind is for us to start emulating. But the judiciary in Nigeria will miss him.

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