Mustapha Akanbi: The exit of an arbiter @ 85




Death is ineluctable, inescapable and inevitable. It is one of the realities of life that humans must grapple with. It is common knowledge that it would come visiting at appointed time regardless of when and how. What matters however, are legacies bequeathed to the next generation.
“Oh our Lord, Pour out on us patience and make us die as those who have submitted (to you)” (Suratul Ar’raaf, 7:126).
In layman’s conviction, Late Hon. Justice Muhammed Mustapha Adebayo Akanbi, the retired jurist fell in this category.
In Ilorin and all parts of the country, the space was beclouded with the shocking news of the demise of Justice Mustapha Akanbi, the pioneer Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and first Wakili of Ilorin.
Even though, Justice Mustapha died at a relatively ripe age of 85, the loss of this great patriot, scholar, a cerebral and an incorruptible jurist was saddening.
Dignitaries from across the country stormed his House No. 6, Agba-Dam Street, off Ahmadu Bello Way, GRA Ilorin early Sunday morning to pay their last respect to the man globally reputed for his incorruptibility. He epitomized excellence and was a good natured jurist. Oh dear lord, Late Justice Mustapha Akanbi was a judge of a rare breed, the type of judge that any nation particularly Nigeria needs and not the questionable characters, “money bags” or “bribery seeking” ministers in the temple of justice.
One of his sons, who took after his profession, law, though in the academics, Muhammed Akanbi, a one-time chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin branch and a professor of law has this to say about him, “The Iroko has fallen! The elephant has fallen! The lion has roared his breast! A legend departs! An enigma transits! Mr Integrity has gone the way of all mortals! Adieu MM 1!
May Allah be pleased with him and grant him Aljanat firdaus. His major interest was nation-building, uprightness, preservation of professional ethics among other salient features of a worthy ambassador.
President Muhammadu Buhari has this to say in a tribute about the late legal luminary “Justice Akanbi would be long remembered for his enormous contributions in bringing credibility and respectability to the country’s judiciary and that his death was a colossal loss, not only to the Nigerian judiciary, but the country as a whole”.
For the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, his demise was a personal loss to him and described the late jurist as an indefatigable, honest and principled jurist who upheld the fine ethics of the judicial process till he breathed his last breath.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara state who was personally touched by the demise of the Wakili Ilory stated that the state and indeed Nigeria has lost a rare gem, philanthropist and revivalist while his investment in education, which is a key component of human capital development will be greatly missed by all.
From far away Morocco, where he is on a religious visit, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Zulu-Gambari, a retired jurist himself and a close associate to the fallen hero, described him as an incorruptible judicial officer, who served the nation without blemish.
The Chief Imam of Offa, Sheikh Muyideen Sulayman Hussein described the late president of the Court of Appeal as an epitome of uprightness. The Ilorin Emirate Youths also viewed the late jurist as a father to all, a truly incorruptible judge, a committed community leader, anti corruption crusader as well as a rear philanthropist.
Late Justice Mustapha Akanbi Oniyo, a giant among gladiators, a fine jurist, who died on Sunday at about 1am after a brief illness at a private hospital in Ilorin at the ripe age of 85, would have turned 86, September 11, 2018.
Mustapha Adebayo Akanbi was born on September 11, 1932 in Accra, Ghana, where he worked as an executive officer in the Ghana Civil Service, apart from being an active member of the trade union.
On returning to Nigeria, Akanbi earned scholarship to study law at the Institute of Administration, now Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He subsequently pursued legal studies in the United Kingdom and was called to the English Bar in 1963.
In January 1964, he was called to the Nigerian Bar. In 1968, he became a Senior State Counsel after joining the Ministry of Justice. After setting up private practice in Kano, he was appointed a judge of the Federal Revenue Court in 1974 and in January 1977, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal. In 1992, he became President of the Nigeria Court of Appeal and retired in 1999.
A year into the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Justice Akanbi was appointed pioneer chairman of ICPC. The late jurist had a rough time at the anti-graft agency due to the nature of the Act establishing it. As of July 2005, the ICPC had charged 85 people but only secured two corruption related convictions.
In his reaction, Justice Akanbi publicly questioned the role of the government in undermining the agency at that time, a development that is still rearing its ugly head in most government agencies.
He also expressed worry about the law that hindered the agency from investigating corrupt practices dating before the creation of the ICPC.
He retired in 2005 on completion of the first term of office and in 2006, he established the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation in Ilorin, Kwara state. The foundation was floated to focus on strengthening civil society groups, governmental agencies and private businesses to engender transparency and accountability.
In 2013, Justice Mustapha Akanbi’s wife, Hajia Munfaatu Akanbi, died at an Indian hospital after a brief illness at the age of 68. He had remained disorganized since that time in spite of his conviction that from Allah we come, and to Him, we shall return until he too breathed his last on Sunday.
As Justice Mustapha Adebayo Akanbi Oniyo transited to his place of final abode peacefully in this Holy month of Ramadan, it is our prayer that Almighty Allah grants him Aljanah Firdaus. Amin

Akanbi writes from Ilorin via Tundeakanbibabby @yahoo.co.uk

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