Layi Olanrewaju, Uche Usim
Justice Mustapha Akanbi, a renowned anti-corruption czar and pioneer chairman of the lndependent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (lCPC) died in the early hours of Sunday, June 3 at the age of 86.
Professor Mohammad Akanbi, the son of the late Justice, confirmed his death on Facebook.
The remains of the late jurist were interred at his Ilorin GRA residence around 2.30 p.m. Sunday.
The Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Mohammed Bashir, led the Jabazah prayer that preceded internment.
Kwara State Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed led the pack of dignitaries that attended the burial of Justice Akanbi.
Other dignitaries that thronged Ilorin to pay their last respects to Akanbi include a retired Appeal Court President, Justice Ayo Salami, pioneer Grand Kadi of Kwara state, Justice AbdulKadir Orire, Kwara state’s Chief Judge, Justice Sulyman Kawu,Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), Adelodun Salman(SAN),Kehinde Elena(SAN),Saka Isau(SAN)and state’s Grand Kadi, Justice Ola AbdulKadir.
Others include former grand Kadis in the state, Imam Oba Fulani, AbdilMutalib Ambali and Solihu Mohammed, the national publicity secretary of APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, JAMB’s Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, Vice Chancellors of the university of Ilorin, Kwara state University, Malete, Al- Hikmah university; Professors, Sulymam AbdulKareem, AbdulRasheed Na’ Allah and Ibrahim Taofik, respectively.
Also in attendance were former Kwara Chief Judge, Justice Raliat Elelu- Habeeb, Rector, Kwara state Polytechnic, Ilorin, Mas’ud Elelu, former minister of Transport, Bio Ibrahim, former speaker, Kwara House of Assembly, Babatunde Mohammed, members of the state execution council, and prominent Islamic scholars from far and near.
In a brief prayer after the burial rites, the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Mohammed Salihu, prayed Allah to receive Justice Akanbi as His true servant.
He expressed delight that the late jurist led a virtuous and righteous life, urging Nigerian leaders across the board to emulate his simple lifestyle and exemplary conduct “through which he impacted positively on the lives of numerous people.”
Akanbi led the ICPC from 2000 to 2005 during the Obasanjo administration.
Born on September, 11, 1932 in Accra, Ghana, late Justice Akanbi, after completing secondary school, worked as an Executive officer in the Ghana Civil Service. He was also active as a trade unionist.
Moving to Nigeria, he worked in the School Broadcasting Department of the Ministry of Education.
He later obtained a scholarship to study law at the Institute of Administration, now Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, followed by legal studies in the United Kingdom. He was called to the English Bar in 1963, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in January 1964.
He joined the Ministry of Justice and became a Senior State Counsel in 1968. In 1969 he set up in private practice in Kano. In 1974 he was appointed a judge of the Federal Revenue Court, and in January 1977 he was elevated to the Court of Appeal Bench.
In 1992 he was made President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal, a position he held until retiring in 1999.
In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Akanbi as Chairman of the newly established Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Four years later, the ICPC had failed to make any significant convictions. Akanbi publicly questioned why the government had set up the ICPC and appointed competent people to run it “only to frustrate it from performing by starving it of funds.”
He said that another issue was that the law forbade it from investigating corrupt practices dating before the creation of the ICPC. In March 2004, Justice Mustapha Akanbi urged parliamentarians to ratify the United Nations and the African Union Conventions Against Corruption, which would greatly assist the struggle against corruption.
As of July 2005, the ICPC charged 85 people but had only secured two corruption-related convictions.
Commenting on this record, Akbani said he suspected that some judges had been paid off to toss out cases.
In September 2005 Akanbe said, “Corruption has been described as a cankerworm, a malaise that has afflicted our nation and done havoc to our corporate existence”.
He attributed the problem to a lack of will by past military leaders to fight corruption, inconsistency in government policies, and reluctance by law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute “sacred cows”.