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Tributes Pour in as Bola Ajibola, 89, is Buried in Abeokuta

He was a former president of Nigerian Bar Association, a former High Commissioners to the UK, one time judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and erstwhile Attorney-General of the Federation.

A torrent of tributes poured in from prominent Nigerians in honour of one of Nigeria’s foremost legal mights, a former president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 1984-1985, former High Commissioners to the United Kingdom, one time judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and erstwhile Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, who died on Sunday at the age of 89. He was immediately buried in Abeokuta in line with Islamic rites.
Ajibola’s death attracted many statements of condolence from far and near, while some paid their last respects to the deceased’s family at his Abeokuta home.

Among prominent Nigerians, who paid tribute to the dead were President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, and President-elect Biola Tinubu.
Others included the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; the chief mourner and governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun; Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; and former Ogun State governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba.

Ajibola, who died in the early hours of yesterday following old age-related ailments, according to his family, was buried after Janazah prayer led by Chief Imam of Egbaland, Sheik Sa’dallah Bamgbola. His remains were interred within the sprawling Islamic Mission for Africa (IMA) premises, a centre he established decades ago on Abiola Way, in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Osinbajo, Obasanjo, Osoba, Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, and Chief Judge of Ogun State, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, were among those, who attended the burial in Abeokuta.

Buhari, while commiserating with the legal community in Nigeria and worldwide, noted in a release issued by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, that the outstanding lawyer and eminent jurist used his God-given knowledge, intellect, and talent to advocate for justice, fairness, and equity in all his undertakings within and outside Nigeria.
The president said the late Ajibola, having risen to the pinnacle of his career, took his brilliance in law practice to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, where he served between 1991 and 1994.

“His contributions to the development of our legal system cannot be overstated, serving as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice at a critical period in the nation’s history,” the president stated. “His patriotic inclinations, integrity and passion for service and advancement of humanity will continue to resonate after him,” he added.

Buhari also sympathised with the government and people of Ogun State as they mourned the illustrious citizen for the educational and social development he brought to his community and environs. The president prayed the Almighty to grant Ajibola Aljannah.

Babangida, in a statement he personally signed, said, “I feel a deep sense of pain on hearing the news of the sudden demise of our former Attorney-General, Prince Bola Ajibola: a great Nigerian, an unimpeachable patriot, a sound legal mind, humanist, and a quintessential legal luminary of global reputation. His death, no doubt, marked the end of an eventful career of an exceptional Nigerian, whose love for country was total.

“As a government, when we tried to appoint Prince Ajibola as Attorney-General of the Federation, there were certain persons, who cautioned us against it, saying the late Prince was a controversial personality, who would give us a headache. I insisted that was the more reason why we should appoint him; with the hope that he would guide us on the path of law and reason, and not sentiments; which he did.
“As a true Nigerian patriot, throughout his service to the nation, he refused to receive a salary. He served our nation pro-bono. He was very passionate about the place of Nigeria in the comity of nations. There was never a day he asked to be paid his salaries during and/or after his meritorious service to the nation. Prince Bola Ajibola is an exceptional patriot of repute.

“At 89, he lived his full circle. His sound knowledge of law and the legal profession was legendary. He was a man with robust ideas about governance. He shaped the direction of our government and contributed in no small measure to deepening our body of laws. He was friendly, engaging, and selfless. He was a great mind whose love for country is remarkably worthy of emulation. I will personally miss this great Nigerian, who gave us a lot of ideas on how to lead our country.”

Tinubu expressed sadness over Ajibola’s demise, in a statement signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman. He sent his condolences to the family of the legal luminary and founder of Crescent University, Abeokuta.
The president-elect also acknowledged Ajibola’s important contributions to Nigeria’s political evolution and nation-building, legal profession, and international jurisprudence, saying, “I received the news of the passing, on Sunday, of Prince Bola Ajibola, SAN, at 89, with profound sadness.

“The former Nigerian Minister of Justice and leader of the Bar was an eminent statesman and legal icon, whose contributions to national progress and development will be written in gold.

“During his earthly sojourn, Prince Ajibola didn’t just serve his country with his gift of extraordinary brilliance as a lawyer, he served the world as a judge of International Court of Justice in The Hague and Member of its Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).”
Osinbajo, who arrived the burial venue about 4.57pm, spoke with newsmen in Abeokuta and said his personal interaction with Ajibola as Special Adviser, would be indelible in his heart.

The vice president said, “Prince Bola Ajibola was someone I worked with as a special adviser, when he was federal attorney general and one thing he demonstrated was his belief in Nigeria, and that one could serve in the public domain with integrity.
“I am sad that he is no more. As Segun, his first born, has said, ‘I am actually his first-born. It’s a great honour that I knew him and he mentored me.”

Abiodun ddescribed the Ajibola’s death as a big loss to the judiciary, and said his legacies in the judiciary, philanthropy, and the educational development of Nigeria would never be forgotten.

The Ogun State governor commiserated with the Owu Royal Family, his friend, Obasanjo, and members of the Baptist Boys’ High School Old Students Association. He said Ajibola’s death was saddening, devastating, and the end of an era.

Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said, “The death of this illustrious son of Ogun State, a celebrated jurist and judicial activist, public intellectual and elder statesman, is a severe blow to all of us, who knew him.
“Words cannot adequately convey my heartfelt sorrow over Papa’s death, for he was a kind and beautiful soul, who spread love to all who encountered him.” Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)/Chairman, Presidential Transition Council (PTC), Mr Boss Mustapha, also reacted to the news of Ajibola’s death on behalf of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

In a statement by Director, Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, the SGF chronicled Ajibola’s contributions to the development of the legal profession, both locally and internationally. He described the deceased as a respectable judge who served at home as Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, as well as Judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands, from 1999-1994.

Mustapha stated, “Ajibola also contributed to the development of Nigeria’s educational sector as founder of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He was also a diplomat of repute, having served as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1999-2002.
“FEC condoles with the government and people of Ogun State, family and friends of the deceased, and prays to God to grant him Aljanah Firdaus.”

Atiku, in a tribute he signed, said, “It is with a heart filled with pain, but with gratitude to the Almighty, that I share my condolences about the passing of Prince Bola Ajibola.
“Pain because there are only a few Nigerians, who grew in status to the heights of the Prince from a noble Egba family. I am happy in another way because, being a Muslim myself, I am certain that Prince Ajibola would, himself, have elected to make his passing in the glorious month of Ramadan.”

The former vice president said there were many things to remember Ajibola for, adding, “That he was a doyen of the law profession and his accomplishments as a jurist of note is the most basic of the things that we shall tell of his memories. Of course, he did the country proud, when he served at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, as well as during his years of service as Nigeria’s envoy to the United Kingdom.
“But what was spectacular about the late eminent jurist was how his values of forthrightness and candour, which, by the way, is emblematic of his Egba heritage, reflected in all other spheres of his earthly engagements.

“As a diplomat, jurist, educationist – or any other role that you may wish to describe the late Prince Bola Ajibola – what is consistent about his character is the overwhelming presence of rectitude and forbearance in every of his endeavours.
“Those two qualities of his personality are the secret codes to his achievements in life. I am sure that they are qualities that his family and friends will be proud of, and we should immortalise in memory of him.

“Prince Ajibola was always at peace with his Creator and fellow humans, when he was at this side of the divide, and the legacies of his lifetime should be a beacon that should call younger Nigerians to an exemplary life that he lived.”
Lawan and Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, also condoled with the family of Ajibola.

Lawan described the late elder statesman as an erudite lawyer and international jurist, who left bold imprints on the study and practice of law both within and outside Nigeria. He noted that as former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and one time Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the late Ajibola impacted tremendously his legal profession and will not be forgotten.
Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, while commiserating with the government and people of Ogun State, extolled Ajibola’s virtues. He stated that the late jurist was forthright, bold, courageous and patriotic.

Sanwo-Olu described Ajibola’s death as a big loss to the legal profession, the education sector, Ogun State, and Nigeria as a whole, saying he served his country and the world meritoriously at different levels.
In a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu commended the ex-ICJ judge for his legacies, sacrifice and dedication to nation building and service to mankind.

The governor praised Ajibola’s contribution to the judiciary and education sector as a lawyer, World Court Judge, and founder of one of the foremost private universities in Nigeria, Crescent University, Abeokuta.
He stated, “On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, I want to express my sincere condolences to the family, friends and associates of Prince Bola Ajibola on the demise of our elder statesman and renowned jurist.
“Prince Ajibola lived a fulfilled life, having made positive impacts during his lifetime. The elderly and wise counsel of the jurist will be sorely missed, not only by his family, but the entire people of Owu Kingdom and Ogun State, where he played active roles in its development for many years before he passed on.

“I want to urge the late Prince Bola Ajibola’s family, friends, judiciary and education sectors and the entire people of Owu Kingdom to immortalise the good name of the late lawyer and educationist. I pray that God will grant him eternal rest and give his immediate family, friends and the people of Ogun State the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Osoba described the late Ajibola as a passionate personality, whose interest in education and law could not be rivalled. He noted that Ajibola had to sell almost all his properties to set up a university, when the burden to contribute to the development of education in the country was rife.

“Ajibola was a thorough prince of Egbaland, who believed in the legacies of our forefathers,” Osoba said, adding, “He invested everything he had into education and law in Egbaland, Nigeria and the world as judge of the world court in The Hague. We will miss him.”

Malami Mourns Ex-AGF Ajibola

Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, mourned the death of the former AGF, who served between 1985 and 1991. This was made known by Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.

Malami said the death of late Prince Bola Ajibola created a huge vacuum in Nigeria’s legal space. He added that as a patriotic citizen, the former AGF was a seasoned legal icon of international repute whose impact remained indelible in Nigerian history and beyond.
While praying God for the repose of the soul of the deceased, Malami also prayed that the Almighty grant the country, families of the late jurist, Ogun State and, indeed, the entire nation the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Malami prayed the Almighty Allah to grant Ajibola Jannatul Firdaus.

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale, Olawale Ajimotokan, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta

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