Chief Richard Akinjide SAN dies at 88

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read

Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the Second Republic and prominent politician in South West Nigeria, Chief Richard Akinjide SAN is dead. He was 88 years old.

A source close to the family sent a Whatsapp message to Gavel International at 2.13 am on Tuesday morning with the news of the passage of the prominent lawyer. The source does not want to be quoted as he said that such news can only be broken by a member of the deceased family.

Another Ibadan based senior lawyer and chief also confirmed the passage. “I just got the information now from an Uncle in Ibadan here. The Uncle confirmed the death but I put a call through to Jumoke for confirmation but it appears she is still in bed. She’ll surely call back very early in the morning”, said the chief, adding that it is only proper to allow the family break the news.

Born in the city of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State in the southwest of the country on November 4,1931 to an influential family of warriors, Richard Akinjide attended Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife from where he passed out in Grade One (Distinction, Aggregate 6).

Richard Akinjide travelled to the UK in 1951 for his higher education and was called to the English Bar in 1955 and later in Nigeria. He established his practice of Akinjide & Co soon after.

He was a former Minister of Education in the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa during the First Republic and the Minister for Justice in the administration of President Shehu Shagari in the second republic.

He was a member of the judicial systems sub-committee of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of 1975-1977 and later joined the National Party of Nigeria in 1978. He became the legal adviser for the party and was later appointed the Minister for Justice.

Richard Akinjide was conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1978. He was number 8 on the roll.

He also serves as a chieftain in the Olubadan of Ibadan’s court of clan nobles.I

As Justice Minister, it was under his watch that Nigeria temporarily reversed executions of armed robbers. The following also took place under his watch

  • The Abolition of a decree barring exiles from returning to the country.
  • He was lead prosecutor in the treason trial of Bukar Zanna Mandara.
  • 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.

Chief Akinjide will be remembered for his legal argument in 1979 when he helped President Shagari win his case at the Supreme Court.

Richard Akinjide was the lawyer of Shagari. He rationalised the two-thirds of 19 to be 122/3 and not 13. He came to his rationalisation by dividing the 13th state (Kano) into three and votes cast in two-thirds of the state constituting the figure from where two-thirds of votes were said to have been secured by Shagari, earning Shagari the constitutionally required votes in other words, through fractionalising of Kano State and going for the two-thirds of the votes in the state.

The supreme court eventually upheld the verdict of the election tribunal and ruled in favour of Shagari.

Shagari later appointed Akinjide as his Attorney General.

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