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NBA holds valedictory service for Akeredolu in Ibadan

By Adedotun Ajayi

Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa on Monday joined the Oyo state High Court, Ibadan, in a special valedictory court session in honour of late Governor Arakunrin Oluwaroritimi Akeredolu SAN.

The late governor died on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, at the age of 67.

Pix: Ayodele Suberu

In a press statement released the next day by Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Jnr), the family said he peacefully departed in his sleep at a hospital in Germany, where he was undergoing treatment for protracted prostate cancer.

Governor Aiyedatiwa in his remarks, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Oyo state government and judiciary for organising the special valedictory session in honor of the late governor.

Reflecting on their journey, Aiyedatiwa reminisced about their initial encounter in 2012 during Akeredolu’s first gubernatorial bid in Ondo State.

Despite the initial setback, their friendship blossomed as they collaborated in the political arena, culminating in Aiyedatiwa serving as the Director General for Akeredolu’s campaign in the Ilaje/Ese Odo Federal constituency during his second attempt at the governorship which became successful.

Aiyedatiwa praised Akeredolu’s unwavering belief in him, citing numerous recommendations and opportunities extended by the late governor.

He emphasized Akeredolu’s dedication to his convictions, highlighting his readiness to make sacrifices for causes he believed in.

Akeredolu’s commitment to serving the people of Ondo State was evident through initiatives like the Amotekun security architecture, which is aimed at safeguard the lives of citizens without politicizing their welfare.

Describing Akeredolu as an epitome of integrity, Aiyedatiwa lauded his unyielding commitment to truth and transparency. Akeredolu’s steadfast adherence to his principles, even in the face of adversity, left an indelible mark on those who knew him.

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He pledged to honor Akeredolu’s legacy by ensuring the completion of ongoing projects and initiating new ones, ensuring that the late governor’s contributions are enshrined in the annals of history for generations to come.

Also in attendance are the Akeredolu family, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, Prof. Oluwole Akeredolu, Ifeoma Atuegwu, Yejide Runsewe, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola GCON.

Earlier in her welcome address, Chief judge of Oyo state, Justice Iyabo S. Yerima, described the late Akeredolu as a patriarch of the Nigerian Bar, emphasizing his dedication to the Bar and Bench, especially in Ibadan, Oyo State. She said “as a trusted confidant, Akeredolu provided valuable counsel on legal matters, reflecting his commitment to the profession”

Recalling their initial meeting at the University of Ile-Ife and their subsequent reunion during her tenure as a High Court Judge in 2001, Justice Yerima highlighted Akeredolu’s unwavering support throughout her career. She reminisced about gifting him a Bible and how delighted he was to receive the gift, which is a testament to how devoted he was to the things of the Lord.

Justice Yerima also acknowledged Akeredolu’s philanthropic endeavors, including the construction of a chapel in honor of his parents at the All Saints Garden on the Ibadan-Eruwa road, demonstrating his compassion for the community.

Also, Abiodun Aikomo, the Commissioner of Justice for Oyo State, fondly recalled Akeredolu’s early days as a leader in the Students Union at Ife. He credited Akeredolu with fostering a leadership style characterized by a focus on pertinent issues, vigorous debates, and constructive engagement.

Aikomo highlighted Akeredolu’s commitment to mobilizing mass consciousness against various societal ills such as inequality, injustice, corruption, arbitrariness, and recklessness. He praised Akeredolu’s unwavering dedication to his convictions, noting his fearless approach to challenging injustices.

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Describing Akeredolu as a man of passion who fearlessly pursued his convictions, Aikomo lamented the loss of an iconic figure in Nigeria. Akeredolu’s legacy, he concluded, would continue to inspire and guide future generations in the ongoing pursuit of justice and equality.

Yakubu Maikyau, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, said he was in deep shock upon learning of the passing of the late Rotimi Akeredolu, who served as a past president of the association. Referring to Akeredolu as ‘Okunrin meta,’ a Yoruba term for a ‘strong man,’ Maikyau highlighted Akeredolu’s robust character and influence within the legal community.

Reflecting on Akeredolu’s tenure as president of the NBA, Maikyau described him as one of the most influential leaders in the association’s history. Said “Akeredolu’s impact was felt not only during his presidency but also throughout his illustrious career, marked by significant achievements such as his appointment as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1998 and his chairmanship of the Legal Aid Council from 2005 to 2006”

Maikyau emphasized Akeredolu’s industrious leadership and noted his invaluable contributions to the legal profession. As the president of the NBA from 2008 to 2009, said “Akeredolu left an indelible mark on the association and will be deeply missed by colleagues and admirers alike”

Speaking on behalf of the Body of Benchers at the event, Justice Dele Adeshina expressed that the late Akeredolu was a fervent pursuer of his beliefs.

In representation of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Justice Adeniyi Adetola portrayed him as a stalwart in the legal profession, a recognized activist whose leadership endured until his passing. He was hailed as a brave individual who never misled anyone.

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In response to the tributes, one of the deceased’s children, Yejide Runsewe nee Akeredolu, conveyed gratitude on behalf of the family, acknowledging, “Our father was truly a remarkable man,” upon hearing the sentiments shared today.

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