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Olanipekun, Ugwummadu pay tribute to Richard Akinjide

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Eminent legal luminaries have continued to pay tribute to the late legal colossus, Richard Akinjide (SAN). Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) described Akinjide as a prodigious and courageous lawyer.

Similarly, former president for Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu, said a legal giant of international repute has just exited. 

According to Olanipekun, without any gainsaying, Chief Akinjide lived a full cycle, whether as a lawyer, a politician, a scholar or statesman, who made a success of every venture he embarked on. 

Specifically, he said that as a lawyer, he was very forensic and seminal. “He was among the second set of the early lawyers in Nigeria to be conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1978, alongside the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, SAN, the late Chief Kehinde Sofola, SAN, the late Chief G.O.K. Ajayi, SAN among others,” he said, adding that Akinjide assumed and occupied every available space and position in the legal profession, and in all of them, he creditably discharged himself. 

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His words: “He was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), during the military era where he distinguished himself as one of the most outstanding Presidents. He was also the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, while for several years, he was the Chairman of the Body of Senior of Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN). In effect, He rose to the pinnacle of the Nigerian legal profession as one the earliest Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at a very challenging period when his knowledge, integrity and expertise were put to test.

“As a politician, he was first a Federal Parliamentarian before assuming the office of Minister of Education in the First Republic, and he would be remembered as one of the youngest federal ministers ever produced in Nigeria. As a statesman, Chief Akinjide stoically pursued the clamour for a true federalism in Nigeria, both in his writings and public speeches, while at the same time presenting himself as a father figure who cultivated friends across all divides.” 

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As prolific writer, Olanipekun said he also lauded his highly cerebral submissions, in and out of court adding that he was in the forefront of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence in 1960.  

Olanipekun noted that a titan has departed. “A legal colossus and potentate has been called home; a highly distinguished statesman has gone to rest. Our thoughts are with his immediate family and the Nigerian legal community as we ask that Almighty God accept his soul and grant him eternal rest,” he said.

Ugwummadu however recalled that no doubt, Akinjide cut some controversies, as would any practitioner of his stature, particularly in the notorious “12 2/3 judgment” of the Supreme Court over the presidential election petition involving Messrs Obafemi Awolowo and Shehu Shagari, 

“It is to be appreciated that his philosophy and approach to law drew largely from the British background where he trained and had his early practice, yet he was patriotic enough to return to the country and placed his training to the service of his country,” he said.

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