The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola; Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbami SAN; Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige SAN; President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN, and Ondo State Governor, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa were among those who paid glowing tributes to late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN yesterday at the special court session held yesterday at the High Court Complex, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The jurists and Bar leaders extolled the virtues of Akeredolu, variously describing him as a forthright and courageous leader.

Opening the floodgate of encomiums, Fagbemi described Akeredolu as a “legal juggernaut” as well as “a true and detribalized Nigerian, a patriot per excellence, a quintessential leader (both in law and politics) with a large heart.”

His words: “Today, we mourn a fighter and fearless defender of truth and the masses. Hi s death is a blow to the entire legal profession and the Nigerian Bar Association as we are all indeed diminished by his death.”

Ngige described Akeredolu as a “kind man,” adding that “Upon his assumption of office (as NBA President) Aketi entrusted me with few responsibilities as he believed that I would represent the Bar well. He nominated me as a member of the National Executive Committee of NBA, a member of Body of Benchers and a member of the Appeal Committee of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee.”

Ngige noted that “Aketi’s era as NBA President was somehow a replica of Alao Aka-Bashorun’s era. The best organised NBA Annual General Conference in recent memory was the 2009 AGC held in Lagos. The chairperson of that historic conference was our iconic Funke Adekoya, SAN. It was a conference in which every delegate went home satisfied with its intellectual contents and takeaways. Aketi ensured that the Government of the day was held accountable for its actions and inactions leading to some people accusing him of being pro-ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria)!”

Maikyau stated that Akeredolu “firmly believed in the ability of the legal profession to make a difference in our society. It was this belief that led him into mainstream politics resulting in his being elected twice as Governor of Ondo State.”

He noted that “Aketi will be positively remembered for his forthrightness, his down-to-earth perspectives especially on matters of national importance, and for his several contributions to the growth and development of Ondo State and the entire region. Permit me to say with no fear of contradiction that, in the words of Sir Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams, Arakunrin Akeredolu lived for the direction of his people and for the advancement of the cause of his country.”

On his part, the immediate past Chairman of the NBA Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC), Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN said: “During his lifetime, the Late Aketi was a remarkable man who lived a life of great purpose and passion. He was an outstanding leader who served as a mentor to many.”

He noted that “Nigeria has indeed lost an Icon and a great asset who has made great impacts and whose soul will without doubt be immortalized by his indelible legacies which posterity will forever remember. His legacy of love for justice, wisdom and patriotism will continue to inspire those who knew him.”

According to the fledgling Nigerian Law Society (NLS), “NLS enjoins our colleagues to emulate the life and character of a true Bar man who stood up for his colleagues and for the common man.

“NLS will continue to remember Arakurin Olarotimi Akeredolu SAN and promote his legacy within the legal profession in Nigeria.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that Akeredolu served as an Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Governor of Ondo State. As a Bar man, he served the NBA at different times as Secretary and Chairman of the Ibadan Branch and also as the 24th NBA President.

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