Legal luminary, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, died in his Ibadan, Oyo State residence early Tuesday after a protracted ailment, family sources told the press.

Some lawyers in Lagos, on Wednesday, described Chief Richard Akinjide’s passing as a big blow to the legal profession.

The lawyers said that Akinjide’s name would continue to remain relevant “till the end”.

Mr Kabir Akingbolu, a human rights lawyer, described Akinjide as one of the foremost lawyers in Nigeria, who helped to grow a modern legal practice in the country.

“He was a veritable Senior Advocate of Nigeria whose advocacy the young ones admire.

“As an old advocate, he had serious passion for upholding professional conduct at the Bar.

“You will always love his sense of logical reasoning and perception of legal issues,” he said.

Akingbolu also described Akinjide as a role model to many lawyers and a man who meant many things to many people.

“As young law students, we used to memorise his name like a nursery rhyme because of the concept of two-third majority he propounded, expounded, and expanded in the landmark case of Awolowo vs Shagari.

“The Supreme Court agreed with his postulation that two-third of 19 states in Nigeria then, was 12 and not the mathematical calculation of 13.

“The decision till date is a watershed in our legal history,” he said.

Another lawyer, Mr Olakunle Fapohunda said: “It was under his watch as the Minister of Justice that Nigeria temporarily reversed executions of armed robbers.

“He was the lead prosecutor in the treason trial of Bukar Zanna Mandara.

“His history will not be complete without highlighting his contribution to the Nigerian jurisprudence in the landmark case of Awolowo vs Shagari which eventually became known as the 12 States -2/3 Majority Case,” he said.

Fapohunda said that the late Akinjide was involved in the eviction of many illegal foreign nationals from Nigeria, “which contributed to mild violence against some foreigners in the country”.

“The event also exposed some weaknesses within the West African Economic Community.

“He was also involved in the abolition of a decree barring exiles from returning to the country, may his soul rest in peace,” Fapohunda said.

Akinjide (SAN) was a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.

A former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Akinjide died in the early hours of Tuesday, April 21 at the age of 89 years.

He was called to the English Bar in 1955 and later in Nigeria.

He was a former Minister of Education in the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa during the First Republic.

He was appointed Minister for Justice in the administration of President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic (1979 – 1983).

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