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Our aspirations, expectations, meet Kwara SAN designates

The recent announcement by the Legal Practitioner’s Privileges Committee (LPPC) of over seventy lawyers including academicians across the country shortlisted for the conferment of the prestigious Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) award resonated very loudly back home in Kwara State with the historical conferment of the state Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Barrister Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh, the first civil servant to achieve such feat in the state. In this report, ACTING EDITOR, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM unveils the three SAN designate on the list who are from Kwaran and others practising in Ilorin jurisdiction.
Last week, the “state of harmony”, a soubriquet that is now synonymous with Kwara State erupted into ecstasy especially in the judicial sector following the short-listing by the Legal Practitioner’s and Privileges Committee (LPPC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) of three Kwarans among the seventy two names announced by the body last week.
Among the list were the State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Barrister Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh, a former staff of the ministry now into private practice based in Lagos, Barrister Taiye Babajide Oladipo and Barrister Akin Akintoye II, one of the longest serving lawyers of Ilorin jurisdiction who hails from Ondo State.
The issue which has continue to attract attention and reactions from top legal juggernauts in the country including Mallam Yusuf Ali among others has catapulted the state into the history books again and underscored the vibrancy of Kwarans and the Ilorin jurisdiction within the committee of practitioners across the legal fields in the country.
For practitioners from the public and private sector who spoke with National Pilot on the development, Kwara has paid its dues as far as legal practice is concerned in the country from the historical exploit of the late AGF Abdulrazaq adding that the feat achieved by the Ministry of Justice through the DPP was the icing on the cake for the state fraught with many positive implications.
It was the highly respected Yusuf Ali (SAN) who opened the floodgate of encomiums for the history maker in the person of Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh, Barrister Taiye Babajide Oladipo and Barrister Akin Akintoye II after their announcement as shortlisted candidates for the conferment of the prestigious award.
According to the erudite lawyer, “I am very happy about the feat of the DPP who is our junior brother. And of course I am always very happy about the progress of other people and those who also made it from Kwara and elsewhere. I have called and greeted the DPP and pray that Almighty Allah will grant him the necessary fidelity to discharge the onerous duty of the new position”.
According to Ali, “This award has also showed that the civil service especially the Kwara Ministry of Justice is very strong and equally populated with people who are professionally (tough). We can only pray that Almighty Allah grants all of us progress in our chosen fields”,
For the immediate past chairman of the Ilorin NBA who is incidentally the first and only civil servant yet to head the Ilorin bar in its entire history, Barrister Mohammed Akande, the DPP achievement serves as inspiration for the staff of the Ministry of Justice.
“This is well deserved and most welcomed. It is a good development as history was made in the life of our state as this is the first time a serving civil servant will be designated a Senior Advocate of Nigerian. Other northern states that are not as vibrant as ours like Kebbi and Katsina states have made this record dating back to 7 years in some instances. So why with all our legal prowess, vibrancy and knowledge of law here, we have not produced any until this moment. This is an inspiration to the rest of us and we are proud of our DPP. And we hope that many of us too will be able to make it someday.
“What is on now is that two Kwarans have been designated for the title with Barrister Taiye Oladipo and the DPP and also two individuals from the Ilorin bar also made it in person of Akin Akintoye II who is the son of the first chairman the Ilorin bar and the DPP. So we can say we had four beneficiaries here though three were conferred”, the former NBA chairman added.
Akande who disagreed with the notion that the number of beneficiaries is low in Kwara this year compared to previous ones, said “last year, Kwara had nothing. We have had three and we never have more than that figure at a go. There have been many years that we never even had anybody conferred with the title from Kwara. So we look forward to having more next year but this a welcomed development”, he submitted.
Speaking on the development, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Kwara State, Barrister Salman Jawondo who also applied, noted that the development reverberated very highly in Kwara because of its far reaching impact in them Ministry of Justice and legal practitioners who are civil servants.
“This is a very great development coming at a time of this government which also shows that the present administration believe in giving the people/civil servants the opportunity to achieve their ambition and realise their potentials. Mumini Jimoh is the longest serving DPP in Nigeria and had met all the requirements and gathered the requisite credentials for the application long time ago but for some reasons and situation then, he could not apply.
“But now, with the liberalism we brought into the system, we call all see the positive and even next year, if other state counsel are in the position to apply, they should be free to do so and nobody should be considered a threat to anybody.
“For us, it’s a signal that the judiciary in Kwara State is very active and performing looking at the turnover of cases. Kwara is one of the most if not the leading jurisdictions in term of time limit within which cases are determined and lawyer from other jurisdictions are taking advantage of that by coming here to conduct their cases because they know they will be expeditiously deposed off which goes a long way to assist whoever wants to be a Senior Advocate and very serious lawyers like DPP and those in private practice. What has happened in Kwara has really change the face of the civil servants particularly lawyers in the Ministry of Justice and anybody is now free to apply irrespective of whether the AG is a SAN or he is qualified or not”.
Designates speak
According to the DPP, “I received my appointment as a sign of Allah’s blessing on me and of course the Kwara state civil service generally. This is because it is the first time in the history of the state, when a civil servant will emerge a SAN. This is a pride not only to my personal family, but the state as a whole. I pray that we have more of this from the state. I’m grateful to God for using me as instrument toward establishing this tradition in Kwara.
“I have always given my best to the state and I will continue to do so until I retire from the service in the state. It is a very keen competition and you can see that I emerged from the merit list which is from 1-15 and I thank God for that which is even a pride and a blessing to me which is to show Allah made it”, he noted.
Speaking on the issue in a telephone chat from Lagos, one of the SAN designate from Kwara, Barrister Oladipo told National Pilot that only God can give honour.
“Well, we give God the glory because the bible says no man takes honour for himself. It is God that gives honour. And I tell you the truth, there were so many people who were better qualified than me that have not even applied, so who are we. It is a thing of joy that God has considered us among those to be honoured”.
On what next, Oladipo “The rank of a SAN is the zenith of law practice for every lawyer especially those who are in active legal practice. The lesson is to continue to serve God and ensure that we are part of the move of God to ensure that justice is done and we don’t use our position as SAN when conferred to perpetuate injustice. But rather as a means to help and lift the poor and the masses and ensure that we help the three arms of government – executive, legislative and judiciary – to fulfilled their mandate.
On the feat of the DPP, Oladipo said “It was a thing of joy for me as a former counsel in Kwara State Ministry of Justice for the DPP to be appointed. It will encourage state counsel to work harder and strengthened the dispensation of justice, civil and criminal. Lawyers in the ministry or other agencies of government are always been neglected by the ministry though they work very hard. This is welcome development and I look forward to many more lawyers being conferred. In overseas, government lawyers are not only well remunerated but also well honoured and that is why in America, federal prosecutors are well trained so much so that high flying law firms always headhunt them for employment. That is the way it should be in Nigeria. Mumini Jimoh is a shining example of a worthy civil servant and I congratulate him for that.
“Kwara is a leading light as far as law practice is concerned since the late AGF Abdulrazaq became the first SAN from Northern Nigeria, same with Alhaji Alarape Salman who has also distinguish himself in the profession and as a SAN. These are the people we are using as role models and we also want other Kwarans to look up to us as worthy models and people of exemplary conduct who should be available to every Kwaran irrespective of age, sex, tribe and ethnicity”, Oladipo submitted.
For his part, Akin Akintoye II who is the son of the pioneer chairman of the Ilorin NBA told this medium the conferment is a challenge to do more and use the elevation to make the difference in the legal sector in the country.
“I want to give God all the praise and glory and thank Him for making it possible. It’s like a reward for years of hard work and dedication. This is also a challenge to do more and higher responsibility. I believe God will want me to make a difference with the elevation. I’m also praying that God will enable me to live up to expectation and not disappoint Him and humanity. On this I’m sure you know that the public opinion or attitude towards senior advocates now some of them are not too complimentary. I’m hoping that in my own little way, I will be able to make the change and begin to alert the public to have confidence in the Senior Advocates of Nigeria” he added.
On whether he has any plan of relocating from Ilorin, Akintoye II said “Not at all, I’m not that type of person; I’m not, except if it is so clear from God that I should either go to Abuja, Lagos or any other place like Port Harcourt”, he added.
PROFILES

Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh: Mallam Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh was born in 1964 and an indigene of Asa and attended the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife from where he graduated in 1989 and obtained his LLM in 2004. He is a 1990 attendee of the Lagos Law School and was called to the Nigerian bar same year. He was employed into the Kwara State Ministry of Justice in 1992 as State Counsel II and rise through the ranks to the position of Director of Public Persecution (DPP) in 2004, a position he occupies till date. He is a member of the Kwara State Criminal Justice committee, board member of KWIRS and member of Kwara State College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies (2000-07). He is also a member of Kwara State Committee on Religious Harmony and Criminal Justice Committee. He had handled several prosecutions for the government from the High Court to Court of Appeal among others.

Taiye Oladipo: Taiye Abimbola Babajide Oladipo graduated from the University of Jos in 1985 and was called to the bar in 1986. He obtained an LLM from OAU in 1991 and had a diploma in International Commercial Arbitration sometimes around 2010. He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2011. Oladipo had his NYSC in Port Harcourt with Kola Babalola & Co. from 1986-7 and started law practice in Ilorin with Alhaji Kunle Suleiman from 1987-8. He then worked in the Kwara State Ministry of Justice as State Counsel from 1988-92 and later worked with a law firm, Odidirin and Adefolu 1992-95 from where he established his own chambers, Babajide Oladipo & Co. in 1996 as a Managing Partner based in Lagos.

Akin Akintoye II: Aged 59, Akin Akintoye is one of the veteran legal luminaries based in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. He secured his LL.B at then University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State in 1984. He later attended the Nigerian Law School in 1985 and was subsequently called to the bar same year. He bagged his Masters Certificate in Law from OAU and in Business Administration from the University of Ilorin and was formerly in the teaching field at the two aforementioned institutions for 15 years before moving into full legal practice. He is the current Principal of Akin Akintoye & Co. established in 1963 by his late father, the first residence chambers in the then middle belt region. Although from Ondo State, Akintoye has been practicing in Kwara for over 35 years and was the chairman of Ilorin Bar Dinner, Biennial Law Week Committee, NBA Ilorin Bar Award and Privileges Committee and member of the Elders.

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