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Yusuf Ali: 67 cheers to legal icon, philanthropist

By Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin
09 September 2023   |   4:01 am
Among his peers, a very few would rub shoulders with him in the act of giving to the societal less privileged. Despite the sterling qualities he possesses in his chosen profession, he  stands tall in humility. A classical man, ebullient and peace loving.

Yusuf Ali

Among his peers, a very few would rub shoulders with him in the act of giving to the societal less privileged. Despite the sterling qualities he possesses in his chosen profession, he  stands tall in humility. A classical man, ebullient and peace loving.

A true Nigerian who relates freely among persons of different creeds and tribes. For him, we can simply say let’s drink champagne and dance on the tables until they ask us to leave the bar. But the personality is a teetotaler.

The Principal Partner  Ghalib Chambers- Yusuf Olaolu Ali  Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) remains a living legend as he marked his day of birth on September 7, 2023 without pump or pageantry.

To some of his friends known to The Guardian; Adelodun Salman SAN, Abeny Mohammed SAN, John Olusola Bayesheia SAN, Professor Waheed Olajide Olatinwo and Dr Idowu Waheed Olanrewaju, Ali is a source of joy and pride to them all.

Born some 67 years ago,  (September 7th 1956) to Alhaji Bisiriyu Olayiwola Ali, of Ilare quarters Ifetedo, in Ife South Local Council of Osun state, Ali remains a beacon of hope for his people as he keeps on attracting institutions that could fast track socio, political and economic growths to the town and his people. The kernel of these is the alleged facilitation to Ifetedo of the Faculty of Law of Osun State University.

Professor Jeleel Ojuade, the Vice Chancellor, Ojaja University, Eyenkorin Ilorin described Ali as “an uncle and an illustrious son of our little city, Ifetedo.” Ojuade recalled the modest beginning of the legal icon dated back to Ibadan where he grew up to the status of a teenager.

“He is like an uncle to me. My daddy taught him at the Modern School. But I got to know him closely through a brother, Salihu Ola Bello, an Ilorin-based pharmacist who is now late. Fakau, a younger brother of Ali who practices pharmacy in Ilorin is my bossom friend.
“Ali loved my driving so well that he would want me to drive him to his destinations. I was then living at Omolola Hospital Area while he was living at Oro Road,  both in Ilorin. The house at Oro Road was a storey building. The now Registrar of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishiaq Oloyede shared the house with him. But Oloyede was staying on the first floor then. It was not too long before I started living with the Alis and expectedly, I had to take the children to school in those days. It was around 1997 or thereabout.”

Ojuade, a Professor of Theatre Arts, who is also a lawyer disclosed the modesty of the late wife of Ali, Faozyat Lola Kehinde and her zeal seeing that all  her four children have formal education. While this dream was realized, unfortunately, she never lived long enough to witness it.  She went back to her Maker in August 2004. May the gentle soul of Faozyat find a resting place at the bossom of her Maker.

She was a woman without much penchant for acquisition of mundane things. According to Ojuade, “this woman drove around a fairly used Mercedes Benz for so long until when I pleaded with my uncle to effect a change of the car for her. Even when I tried to get her the vehicle she said she would prefer that the money be used for the education of her children. She was such a commited wife, mother and aunt.”

Nimat studied Accounting at University of Ilorin. The second child also a female followed the footsteps of her father by studying Law at Unilorin. Sururah, the third child started Medicine at the same University but ended the training in United Kingdom. The last born, Yusuff is today, a PhD holder in Engineering. These feats showed how committed the legal guru is to realising the vision of his late wife for their children.

Ali would later on built a female hostel at Unilorin in honour of his late wife. Professor Oloyede was the Vice Chancellor of the citadel of learning at the time. At the event was the  former Deputy Governor of Kwara State, late Joel Afolabi Ogundeji who commissioned the edifice. One striking moment at the epoch making event was the overt emotional display by Ali while making a remark in honour of Faozyat.  Conspicuous among those who consoled him were Ogundeji and Oloyede. While Ogundeji towed the line of “a normal way to remember ones lover and partner”, Oloyede cited Islamic injunctions that should serve as a succour to the philanthropist.

Ali  commenced his early life in the forays of academic with the simultaneous enrollment in a local Quranic school and in a formal school in 1960. After his primary education, he went to a secondary modern school for three years, he worked briefly before he gained admission to Ibadan Boys High School, Ibadan, Oyo State where he passed his school certificate with grade one. He served in the School and  Students’ Representatives Council (SSRC) as the labour prefect.

He again went back to the world of work as a clerical officer in the old Oyo state Ministry of Finance as a tax officer posted to Igboora in 1977.

He gained admission to the University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) in 1978 and graduated with a 2nd Class Upper Division for his Bachelor of Laws degree. He was a winner of the prestigious Federal Merit Award for undergraduates and a University Scholar while an undergraduate at Ife. He attended the Nigerian Law School, where he also passed with a 2nd Class Upper Division

About a decade after graduation, Yusuf Ali went back to his alma mater for his Masters programme which he completed with flying colours in 1991 when he bagged his LLM. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 1989, as a Notary Public.

He attained the highest professional honor at the Nigerian Bar in 1997, when he was conferred with the prestigious and honorable title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, S.A.N. Yusuf Ali has been in active legal practice for over three decades.

He joined the law firm of Adegboyega Awomolo & Co in 1983 and rose to become a partner before he left to establish his own law firm in June 1994.

He is the Principal and Founder of the Law Firm; Yusuf O. Ali & Co, Ghalib Chambers, with offices at Ilorin, Lagos and Abuja with Ilorin as the head office.
He is a member of many professional bodies such as: Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, American Bar Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association among others. He has won and conferred with many fellowships including:
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), (UK); Fellow Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) (Nigeria); Member, Chartered Institute of Taxation Nigeria (CITN); Fellow, Society for Peace Studies and Practice (FSPSP); Fellow, Dispute Resolution Institute (F. DRI); Honourary Fellow, Nigerian Minning And Geosciences Society.

The legal icon has also served and is still serving on boards of many companies and institutions within and outside the country.

He was the Chairman Kwara State Law Reform Committee. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Al-Hikmah University Ilorin. He was the pioneer Chairman, Council of Public Defenders Kwara state. He is the Chairman Board of Directors Apex Microfinance Bank Ltd

Yusuf Ali SAN held and still holds many professional offices including but not limited to :
Sole Judge of the Kwara State Local Government Election Petition Tribunal 1996
Member Kwara State Local Government Election Appeal Tribunal 1997
Life Member, Body of Benchers
Member National Executive Committee, Nigerian Bar Association
Former Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Nigerian Bar Journal,
Former Chairman of the NBA Committee on the Rule Of Law
Pioneer Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Section on Legal Practice (SLP)
Pioneer Chairman of the NBA Anti-corruption Commission.
News Letter Editor International Bar Association Committee on Damages and Negligence.
Member of Council, Commonwealth Lawyers Association.
Member Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers.

He is the Vice Chairman of the International Bar Association committee on Damages and Negligence.
He is a member of the NBA Ilorin Council of Elders.
He was co opted into the Council of the University of ILORIN in 1995 to probe the bursary of that university.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the ILORIN Central Mosque.
Chairman Alanu Trust Fund of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).
Mr. Yusuf Ali SAN is a Patron and Legal Adviser to many professional and socio cultural groups all over Nigeria. He is also an Associate Lecturer, at the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin. He has delivered more than 200 papers on different and diverse topics at various foray, including the International Bar Association Conferences, Commonwealth Law Association conferences , Annual Conferences of the Nigerian Bar Association, among others.

He had contributed more than 17 Chapters to various legal books and has to his credit more than 40 published learned articles in learned journals in the field of litigation, Commercial Law, jurisprudence , practice and procedure, constitutional law in local and international law journals. He had represented many state governments, high net worth Individuals, Corporate and Institutional Clients before all the superior courts of record from the high court to the Supreme Court in many landmark cases.

Yusuf Ali has been awarded more than 100 honours from within and outside of Nigeria. He is listed in the American Biograhical Institute’s Who is Who, as well as in Nigeria’s Who is Who.

A few of the over 100 awards conferred on him are:
Lifetime Achievement Award by the Governing Board of Editors of the American Biographical Insitute
West Africa International Golden Award for Excellence in Enterprise
Award of Excellence presented by AIESEC ILORIN
Award of Excellence as a Doyen of Legal Luminary in Nigeria by Nigerian Vogue
Special Award by FIDA KWARA
Award of Excellence by the National Association of Muslim Law Students, National Headquarters, Abuja.
Distinguished Personality Award presented by the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan
Merit Award by the Nigerian Institute of Management, Kwara State Branch
Award of Excellence by the National Association of Polytechnic Students
Award of Excellence by the Students’ Union of the University of Ilorin
Award of Exemplary Leadership and Service by Rotary Club, Ilorin
Merit Award by the Ibadan Boys High School Old Boys Association
Merit Award by All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, Osun State Branch
Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award of 2010 Africa Legal Icon by All Africa Students’ Union
Award by the NBA Women Forum for Immense Contribution and Activities to the Forum
Police Friendly Award 2009 by the KWARA State Police Command
Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award on Education Per Excellence/Icon of Societal Development by the West African Students’ Union

Commander of Great IFE , (COI) by the OBAFEMI Awolowo university national Alumni.
Honorary Degree of Doctor Of Letters (Honoris Causa) of Al HIKMA University .
He is very passionate about philanthropy and using the vehicle of YUSUF ALI FOUNDATION of which he is the Founder and sole Financier so far, had intervened in many public institutions by donating:
A Twin Dormitary to the University of Ilorin.
An Eighty bed Hostel to the Osun State University.
A Ten Bed Advanced Trauma Centre to the University of ILORIN Teaching Hospital.
Thirty unit ICT center to the Faculty of Law ObafemiI Awolowo university Ile Ife.
Thirty unit ICT center to the College of Law, Crescent University Abeokuta Ogun state.
Endowment of the Crescent University College of Law Building.
Forty unit ICT center to the Kwara state polytechnic , Ilorin.

A brand new Kia Rio 2014 Model to the University of Ibadan for the use of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies of the university.
In the recent past, in order to enhance the work of the Kwara state police command, he donated a well equipped patrol van and some units of motorcycles .

The Yusuf Ali Foundation does a lot of other charity work like award of scholarships to indigent students in secondary and tertiary institutions both in Nigeria and outside, provision of wells and boreholes to communities, medical financial assistance to patients both within the country and outside and the development of literary awareness in secondary schools all over the country by entering into an annual sponsorship with the Association of Nigerian Authors.

Yusuf Ali is a well travelled man and has visited all the continents of the world for professional and educational purposes.

He has published many learned articles in learned journal and contributed chapters to many books.

With these pedigrees and colossal achievement and contributions to his generation, Ali often makes modest appearances at religious and social events he is invited to. It will take a diligent Master of Ceremony to convince him making an appearance at the designated, ‘high seat.’  He dresses neatly but shuns gorgeous attires. His office is widely opened to reporters and remains a good source of news to all. Like every other persons, he has his own weaknesses but topmost of these is his total marriage to the legal profession.

Chief Awomolo SAN under whose chambers Ali caught his legal teeth for about 11 years, described him as “studious, intelligent and focused.” For Abeny Mohammed SAN, as  an alumnus of the same faculty and University,  “Ali is selfless, generous and God fearing.” Professor Olatinwo a former Chief Medical Director (CMD) of University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), the legal luminary “is a friend  who believes in sowing more seeds to the society” with a special reference to the trauma center he donated to the UITH when he served as the  CMD of the tertiary health institution.

As his days are, so shall equally be his strength. Happy birthday to the erudite legal icon of our time and many happy returns to daddy Nimat.

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