OPINION: Three Silks At A Go: Welcome To Ilorin's Week of Greatness By Abubakar Imam

Date: 2022-11-29

Last week was a very sad, unenviable and challenging one for the good people of Ilorin Emirate. It was a week of mourning precipitated by the demise of some frontline members of the community. Two of the four prominent personalities who joined their ancestors were accomplished jurists namely; Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi and Justice Safiya Titi Daibu; the third one was a distinguished medical doctor, Dr Abdulganiyu Abdulbaki; while the fourth was a prominent businessman, who specialised in the manufacturing and sales of our locally defining textile material, Aso-Oke, Alhaji Isiaka Hanafi Aberi. The news of their deaths, which happened in quick succession, was so terrific, that there was hardly any indigene or resident and even friend of Ilorin who was neither unaffected nor unconcerned with the unfortunate development; as we often say: Ilorin is but a single room. May we not witness such again. May Allah grant the departed souls eternal felicity. Aamiin

This new week is, however, positively promising and, by extension, the rest of the year, Ma Sha Allahu. This is because three of our distinguished compatriots are to be admitted into the inner bar as Senior Advocates of Nigeria by His Lordship, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, on Monday, November 28,2022 at the Supreme Court Complex, Abuja.

To all of us, whether "learned" or "not learned", we have come to realize that any lawyer conferred with the title as someone who has reached the pinnacle of his career. Such a lawyer is seen as an epitome of professionalism, a personification of brilliance and a walking encyclopedia of the laws of the land. And we are always encouraged to celebrate them.

This is particularly true of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), which I currently serve as the Chief Scribe. The Union always seizes opportunities like the one under review to thank Allah for His uncountable blessings and mercies to the community. It is also used to tell the rest of the world that as far as human resources development is concerned, the community is surpassing the expectations of friends and adversaries! To God be the glory!!

Yes, Ilorin has always been home of jurists. Yes, Ilorin produced its first lawyer in 1955 in person of Alhaji A. G. F AbdulRazaq. Yes, it produced its second lawyer in 1960 through Justice Mahmud Babatunde Belgore. Yes, it welcomed her third lawyer in 1962 in Justice Saidu Kawu. It is true that, since then, no year passes without Ilorin Emirate producing lawyers of high repute. What's more, our revered Emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, is a first class jurist who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1968 and retired graciously from service 27 years after as the third most senior Justice of the Court of Appeal, Federal Republic of Nigeria. All these came about when many communities did not even know how a lawyer looks. Alhamudulilahi!

Despite the above fascinating records of communal professional accomplishments, the community did not produce a Senior Advocate of Nigeria until 1985 when the father of the current Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, SAN , OFR, was elevated to the prestigious status. That was 10 years after the honour was institutionalised with the appointment of Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams and Chief N. B. Graham-Douglas as the pioneer Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Ilorin Emirate did not become an abode of additional silk until 1987 when a former National President of the IEDPU, Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salman, broke the jinx with his appointment as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

With the scheduled investiture of three of our brothers as holders of the the exalted rank , Ilorin Emirate can now boast of having produced 15 Senior Advocates of Nigeria among its indigenes. This is the highest number of silks from a single traditional polity, if not across the entire country, but certainly in Northern Nigeria!

But who are these compatriots and what is their pedigrees? They are Prof. Muhammed Taofeeq AbdulRazaq, Prince Abubakar Bature Sulu-Gambari and Alhaji Mumini Ishola Hanafi. The three are to be conferred with the title and sworn in accordingly by His Lordship, Mr. Justice Ariwoola, tomorrow November 28th, 2022, Insha Allahu.

Although, many readers might not have met any of them, none of the trio has been anonymous. None of them also has less than three decades of active practice at the bar. They were also born great and to distinguished parents. Despite their privileged births, each of them struggled to create a niche for himself.

The most senior of the three gentlemen is Prof. Muhammed Taofeeq AbdulRazaq. He was born on May 30, 1957 in Lagos and graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979. Prof. AbdulRazaq, who hails from Yerinsa Compound, Idigba Quarters, Pakata area,Ilorin, was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1980. His father, Alhaji Mumini AbdulRazaq, a younger full sibling of Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, was also a lawyer who emerged as the fourth legal practitioner produced by the southernmost Emirate. He practised until his death in 1972. Prof. AbdulRazaq was the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser of the defunct Trade Bank of Nigeria. He was also the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin. This distinguished lawyer, tax consultant and academic was the first Professor of Law produced by Ilorin Emirate. Prof. AbdulRazaq is the second member of the illustrious AbdulRazaq family that would be conferred with the award. The first was his great uncle, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq. While Prof. AbdulRazaq is the fifth alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who hail from Ilorin Emirate that would earn the prestigious honour, he is also the second indigene of Ilorin Emirate origin that would become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria through academic route. He was only preceded by late Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi.

The second of these outstanding gentlemen is His Highness, Prince Abubakar Bature Sulu-Gambari. This unassuming and thoroughly blue-blooded jurist is the Ciroma of Ilorin and the eldest of the children of His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR. His illustrious mother, Alhaja Rafatu Aduke Sulu-Gambari, is a princess of Ikirun in Osun State. The paternal grand father of the new silk was Alhaji Sulu Gambari, who reigned as the Emir of Ilorin from 1959 to 1992; while his maternal grandfather was Oba Kusamotu Oyewole, a late Akirun of Ikirun, who worked extensively for the cause of Islam as Akirun. Prince Sulu-Gambari was born on December 3, 1965 in the city of London. He graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 1990 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1991. He has been in private practice since he became a lawyer and he is the Principal Partner at A. B. Sulu-Gambari & Co., Lagos. Prince Sulu-Gambari, who is a reputable expert in maritime law, is the first member of a royal family from the entire Northern Nigeria that would be granted the honour. He is equally the first product of the University of Maiduguri from Ilorin Emirate that would be found worthy of the privilege.

The third of the foremost lawyers, who is nonetheless the least, is Alhaji Mumini Ishola Hanafi. Alhaji Hanafi hails from Sogbodile family. His ancestral home is situated on Kamaldeen Street, Ilorin. This remarkable patriot was born in Ilorin on January 8, 1969. His father was Alhaji Hanafi Sogbodile (d. 2016) while his mother is Alhaja Maimuna Hanafi. This distinguished lawyer finished from Government High School, Ilorin, in 1985. He was equally trained at Zumuratul Adabiyyah School of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Okekere, Ilorin, which was founded and managed by the founder of Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria and pioneer Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammed Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy. The new silk graduated from the Faculty of Law, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, in 1992. He was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 1993. He has been in private practice since then and he is currently, the Managing Partner, Hanafi & Associates, Abuja. Alhaji Hanafi is undoubtedly the third alumnus of the famous Government High School, Ilorin, from Ilorin Emirate that would be granted the award. His predecessors who are also products of the 55 years old school are Alhaji Adebayo Adelodun and Alhaji Saka Ambibola Isau. This outstanding lawyer is also the second product of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, that hail from Ilorin Emirate that would become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was only preceded by Alhaji Kolawole Kehinde Eleja.

It is remarkable to say that this is the first time since April 3, 1975, when the history of the title began, that three indigenes of Ilorin Emirate would be simultaneously honoured with it. It has never been so good! The closest to this was in 2006 when Alhaji Adebayo Adelodun and Alhaji Saka Ambibola Isau were honoured with the title.

Aside the four learned gentlemen mentioned above, the trio of AbdulRazaq, Sulu-Gambari and Hanafi is also joining the team of Ilorin born Senior Advocates of Nigeria, which consists of eight other eminent lawyers. They are Alhaji Muhammed Dele Belgore(2001), Prof. Abiodun Amuda-kannike (2014), Alhaji Kehinde Kolawole Eleja (2015), Alhaji AbdulHakeem Uthman Mustapha (2016), Alhaji Kamaldeen Adeyemi Ajibade (2017), Late Prof. Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi (2018), Mallam Mumini Adebimpe Jimoh (2020) and Alhaji Salman Ayinla Jawondo (2021).

I know the three new silks quite well as I know many of their predecessors. Despite coming from an humble background, I have had positive interactions with the Prince on many occasions; and my penultimate weekend visit to Abuja also made it possible for me to meet Alhaji Hanafi life and direct as Prof. AbdulRazaq has also been of editorial assistance to me in the past. I can confirm that the three gentlemen are patriotic, unassuming, brilliant and faithful. It will, therefore, be a waste of time reminding them that it is not everyone that is qualified for the honour that would be conferred with it. It is a privilege, which is made possible by no one but the almighty Allah.

As we celebrate the three new silks and their illustrious predecessors for making Ilorin Emirate proud in the comity of jurists, I sincerely congratulate them for bagging the title and for attaining the coveted pinnacle of their illustrious careers. They have made us very elated and proud.

Nevertheless, one must say that it is the expectations of we, their compatriots, that each of them would continue to serve as a shinning role-model to the younger ones so that the community would continue to generate more accomplished jurists. We would always need them more than ever before.

While I congratulate the Emir of Ilorin and the National President of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, fsi, and the good people of Ilorin Emirate for this monumental and momentous success, I join the relations, friends, associates and colleagues of the new Senior Advocate of Nigeria in praying Allah (SWT) to grant each of them long life, deeper wisdom, sound health and every other thing that would be needed for them to serve humanity more, and more importantly to enable them enjoy all the privileges associated with the exalted rank far beyond their expectations. Aamiin.

Imam is National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.


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