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Life and Times of Late Chief Richard Akinjide

Death where is thy sting? The number one enemy of humanity has wreaked havoc in Ibadan, following the demise of a legal luminary and frontline politician, Chief Osuolale Abimbola Richard Akinjide, SAN.

When the news filtered into the air on Tuesday morning, it sounded unbelievable, but who would query the maker of every creature, who seats in heaven and does what pleases him.

As a mortal, everyone has a strong belief that, there is a time to be born and a time to die. It was the turn of Chief Richard Akinjide to say goodbye to this sinful world.    

Chief Akinjide, who is no doubt one of the prides of Yoruba nation and Nigeria as a whole was born in the city of Ibadan in early 1932, to a famous and influential family of warriors.

He attended the renowned Oduduwa College, Ile Ife, from where he graduated with grade one distinction. In recognition of his leadership traits and excellent performance at the local level, the young Akinjide was appointed the Minister of Education by the then Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa.

Following his unprecedented brilliance and excellent performance, Chief Akinjide travelled to the United Kingdom in 1951, for his higher education and was called to the English Bar, the inner temple in 1955 and later in Nigeria.

A highly versatile and a foremost legal luminary by then, the Ibadan born politician was appointed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice by President Sheu Shagari in 1979.

The defender of the defenseless also tasted the other side of life as he spent eighteen months in detention following the January 15, 1966 coup.

Chief Akinjide was a member of the Judicial System Sub-committee of the Constitution Drafting Committee between 1975 and 1977 and later joined the National Party of Nigeria in 1978 and became the legal adviser of the party.

Under his watch at the helms of affairs of the nation’s judiciary, Chief Akinjide temporarily reversed executions of armed robbers and abolition of a decree barring exiles from returning to the country.

The illustrious son of Ibadan was the lead prosecutor in the treason trial of Bukar Zana Mandara in a court proceedings which led to the eviction of many illegal foreign nationals from Nigeria which contributed to mild violence against some foreigners in the country.

This singular act of the legal icon exposed some weaknesses within the West African Economic Community. The role of Chief Akinjide in the 1979 Presidential Election Tribunal cannot be forgotten in a jiffy.

A detribalized Senior Advocate of Nigeria played a very prominent role which led to eventual winner of the election of National Party of Nigeria, Alhaji Sheu Shagari at the Presidential Tribunal Petition instituted by the candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The triumph of Alhaji Sheu Shagari at the Supreme Court which was celebrated by the National Party of Nigeria earned Chief Akinjide the title of a two third mathematician in the legal profession.

Chief Richard Osuolale Abimbola Akinjide’s legacies of humility, professionalism, brilliance, service to God and humanity would forever linger in the minds of all Nigerians.

Chief Richard Akinjide, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party died of old age related ailment in the night of April 20, 2020, at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan.

Morenike Tony-Esan

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