Nigeria’s radio waves throbbed with a worrisome breaking news very early Sunday morning (June 3, 2018) announcing the demise of a Nigerian colossus, Justice Muhammad Mustapha Akanbi, the pioneer Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offences) Commission (ICPC), who was also a former President of Nigeria’s Federal Appeal Court. His demise at the age of 85 brought a new dimension to the current situation in Nigeria. Coming up at this precarious time in the country’s trending but unpredictable developments, the demise of a vertical personality like Justice Mustapha Akanbi is a further confirmation that death is indeed a leveler of mankind.
As the apex body of the entire Muslim Ummah in Nigeria, under the leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR,mni, such a demise could not have come as a shock since by Islamic norm, death is a natural phenomenon with a natural dragnet that cannot be escaped or manipulated in any way by any mortal being. Death is a debt which every mortal being owes and must pay at one point of life or another. We are all from Allah and to Allah, we shall all return.
Like any great man in life with exemplary footprint, Justice Mustapha Akanbi came into the world and lived by the divine rules and regulations of his Creator to the best of his ability.
While alive, he embarked upon a series of temporal and spiritual activities absorbing experiences from various legitimate engagements in which he was involved. Such experiences enabled him to formulate a guiding philosophy in life with which he charted his causes of actions. Yet, the philosophy he formulated from those actions was not merely for his own survival but for him a way of providing a right path through which people who wouldn’t want to go astray could pass with piety. And now, with his demise, that philosophy has become a guide to those of the living who may need guidance either as a warning on the vanity of human wishes or as encouragement towards the pursuit of good deeds or both.
With an unblemished conscience, while alive, Justice Akanbi stood out vertically in the midst of his horizontal colleagues either as a lawyer or as a judge or a crusader against corruption. By his lifestyle, he evidently personified asceticism in all its ramifications using contentment as a template for his exemplary life. And that was why, shortly after his retirement as President of the Federal Appeal Court, the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had to beg him to accept the Chairmanship of the ICPC when that anti-corruption outfit was established at the dawn of the current republic.
After the expiration of his tenure in that office in 2005, he bluntly rejected the idea of renewing it saying “Nigeria was not made for one man”. And when the pressure started to mount on him to continue he quickly resigned and made his resignation public.
He then went on to establish the famous Mustapha Akanbi Foundation in 2006 as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which he fully dedicated to transparency and accountability. Despite his towering stature in the society, Justice Akanbi so much exemplified humility that unlike most of his colleagues, he lived in a modest bungalow in his hometown of Ilorin till his demise.
On behalf of the entire Nigerian Muslim Ummah, the NSCIA under the leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, heartily condoles with the government and people of Nigeria especially the judiciary and commiserates with the citizens of Kwara State praying the Almighty Allah to repose his enviable soul in eternal bliss and grant the members of his family as well as his sincere associates the fortitude with which to bear the agony.
Inna liLlah wa inna ilayhi raji’un!
Prof. Salisu Shehu