Tribute to Justice Abdulkadir Orire (1930-2021)
Justice Abdulkadir Orire, a renowned Muslim cleric, distinguished teacher and seasoned jurist, was born at Obaninsunwa on June 3, 1930, and died on January 26, 2021.
Orire started off with the study of the Quranic reading and recitation as a kindergarten. He was exposed to the fundamental aspects of the Islamic faith and the exciting culture of Ilorin, which made him grow up to become a committed Muslim.
This great jurist’s voyage into Western education started in 1943 at the instance of the late Daudu Ballah, Alhaji Saidu Alao Omo-Oloni. It was Omo-Oloni, who insisted on enrolling him as one of the pioneer pupils of the then Ballah Elementary School (now Ballah LGEA School) Ballah, in the present-day Asa Local Council of Kwara State between 1943 and 1947. Orire did very well at Elementary School and became a pride to the founding father of the school, Alhaji Saidu Omo Oloni.
He was subsequently selected for further training at the then Ilorin Middle School, which is now Government Secondary School (GSS), Ilorin between 1947 and 1951.
At GSS, Ilorin, excelled in his studies, most especially in Arithmetic, Arabic and Islamic Studies. His excellent performances in Arabic and Islamic Studies not only attracted him to his teachers but also earned him selection for further training at the School of Arabic Studies (SAS), Kano from 1951 to 1955.
His intellectual commitment attracted the support of the erstwhile Northern Region Government, which sponsored him for further studies abroad. He left Nigeria for the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He was there from1959 to 1961.
He secured admission into the University of London, United Kingdom, between 1961 and 1964, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic
On his arrival in Nigeria and subsequent engagement as an educator, Orire proceeded to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from 1965 to 1966, at the end of which he obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).
Orire had earlier begun his exciting public service career as a classroom teacher at Baboko Senior Primary School, Ilorin, in 1956. He also taught at Government Secondary School, which was then known as the Provincial Secondary School, Ilorin, between 1956 and 1959 before travelling abroad for further studies.
On his return to Nigeria, he served as a graduate teacher at Barewa College, Zaria, from 1964 to 1966. He was also the Vice-Principal, Arabic Teachers’ College, Sokoto between 1966 and 1969. He rounded off his teaching career as the Principal of the Arabic Teachers’ College, Sokoto, a position he held between 1969 and 1971.
In 1971, Orire transferred his services to the judiciary as a Judge of the Shariah Court of Appeal in the old North-Central State. He was a Kadi of the Court between 1971 and 1974.
In 1975 and following the full-fledged status granted the Kwara State judiciary, Orire was appointed as the pioneer Grand Kadi of the Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal. He held the position creditably from 1975 to 1999.
Justice Orire was the Chairman, Jamaatu Nasril Islam, Kwara State Chapter, from 1973 to 2000. He also served as the Secretary-General of the aforementioned organisation from 2000 to 2010. Orire also served as the Chairman of the National Hijra Committee from its inception till his point of death in the course of which Shaykh Ahmad Olayiwola Kamaldeen (1938-2020), the late Khalifa Adabiyyin, a pupil of the deceased pioneer Grand Kadi served as his Deputy prior to his death. He was also the founding father and Chairman of, Islamic Missionaries Association of Nigeria (IMAN).
He was also a Chairman of the National Council of Ulama. He was also the Vice-President of, National Da’awah Council. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Kwara State Muslim Council in 1968 and several other organisations targeted at promoting the practice and understanding of Islam.
As a distinguished scholar of Islam, who had served as a model to generations of Muslim scholars, personalities and activists, Justice Orire was a patron to several Muslim organisations within and outside Kwara State. These organisations included but not limited to the Young Muslim Brothers and Sisters (YOUMBAS), the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) and the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Justice Orire was also a card-carrying member of the Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria since the 1950s. He was the society’s secretary of its then youth wing. He also was one of the enduring admirers of the Founder of the Society and the pioneer Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy, MFR, OFR, ORSA (1905-2005). He was similarly close to the Founder of the famous Arabic Training Centre (Markaz), Agege, Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, ORSA (1917-1992) as he was to other renowned Islamic scholars and respected Muslim personalities across Nigeria.
His roles in the establishment of the University of Ilorin is not new to chroniclers of history. The idea, which eventually led to its establishment, initially as a University College, was mooted by him through the then Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Ibadan, late Alhaji AbdulRahman Okene, OBE (1914-1999). His support for the establishment of the Kwara State College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies, Ilorin is also well-known as well as similar supports for many schools across Kwara State were also stimulating.
Orire was also a Vice-President of the Ilorin Descendants Progressive Union, now known as Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union. He received so many honours and awards in the course of his career. These awards included the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2003. He was also turbaned and appointed as the Marafa and later Sarkin Malamai of Ilorin by His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, in appreciation of his numerous services to Ilorin Emirate, Nigeria, Islam and humanity.
He is survived by four wives namely: Alhaja Khadijat Abdulkadir Orire; Alhaja Zainab Abdulkadir Orire; Alhaja Hajarat Abdulkadir Orire and another Alhaja Hajarat Abdulkadir Orire. So his sense of duty to the family resulted in all of them holding deservingly enviable positions. He was understandably survived by many children and grandchildren.
Orire came, saw and succeeded in conquering so many challenges as history would remember him as one of the greatest soldiers of Islam and defenders of the culture of Ilorin Emirate.