By Yemi Adebowale
Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is dead. He was 79 years.
Sources close to the Adegbite family told THISDAY last night that the renowned lawyer and former Attorney General of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria died in his Lagos home yesterday evening after a prolonged illness.
Adegbite was born on 20 March 1933 into a Moslem Egba family in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He obtained a scholarship to attend King's College, Lagos, where he was co-founder and first National president of the Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria, graduating in 1956.
In 1959 the Western Region Premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo awarded him a scholarship to travel to England to study for a Law degree under a plan drafted by Chief F.R.A. Williams. Adegbite attended the University of Southampton, graduating with a B.A. in Law in July 1962. He then studied at the College of Law for Solicitors, Lancaster Gate in London, and then at Gray's Inn (1963–1965). Later, he won a Commonwealth Scholarship for post-graduate studies in England. He began his career teaching law at the University of Lagos, holding this position until retiring to go into private practice in September 1976.
In 1971 Adegbite was appointed Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Matters in the old Western Region during the military administration of Brigadier Christopher Oluwole Rotimi. He was then appointed Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the Western Region in 1973. In October 1976, he founded the legal firm of Lateef Adegbite & Co as the Principal Partner, with main office in Lagos and a branch office in Abeokuta, specializing in commercial and corporate law. He was one of the founders of the Abeokuta Social Club in 1972.
Adegbite was president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee from 1972 to 1985. He was Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri from 1984 to 1990. He holds the traditional titles of Seriki of Egbaland and Baba Adinni of Egba Muslims. When Ibrahim Dasuki became Sultan of Sokoto in 1988 and President-General of the NSCIA, Adegbite was appointed Secretary-General of the council. Under the leadership of Adegbite and Dasuki, the NSCIA, which was established in 1974, became much more active.
In a statement yesterday, Governor Ibikunle Amosun described the late Seriki of Egbaland as one of the icons the state has produced for Nigeria.
" Adegbite shone like a star in the field of law and was well known across the world as the mouthpiece of Islam in Nigeria," the governor said.
He noted that the late Seriki was a man who usually offered wise counsel to governments at federal and state levels.
The governor added that the demise of Adegbite was not just a loss to Ogun State but to Nigeria as a whole.
While praying that almighty Allah grants his soul Aljanah Fidaus, the governor commiserated with the Adegbite family, people of Egbaland, the Muslim community and Nigerians in general.