By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Pioneer chairman of the lndependent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (lCPC) and first Wakilin Ilorin, Justice Mustapha Akanbi is dead.
The renowned anti-corruption Czar passed on in the early hours of Sunday at the age of 86.
The son of the late octogenarian, Professor Mohammad Akanbi confirmed the death of the late jurist.
The burial of the deceased which is expected to be officiated by the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Mohammed Bashir will take place later today.
Reacting to news of Akanbiâ€™s death, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday paid tribute to the late former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, saying his greatest asset in life was his enviable integrity and incorruptibility.
The president, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said Akanbi who passed on Sunday morning in Ilorin, Kwara State, would be long remembered for bringing enormous credibility and respectability to the country’s judiciary.
According to the statement, the president described the death of Akanbi, the pioneer Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), as a colossal loss not only to the Nigerian judiciary but the country as a whole.
The president was quoted as saying, “being respected by the people for your honesty and patriotism is the best legacy a man can leave behind.
“In a country where corruption is perceived as fashionable, Akanbi stood out as a remarkable man who put personal integrity and selflessness before the desire for money outside his legitimate income.”
The statement added that the president affirmed that Akanbi’s greatest achievement was leaving the public service with his integrity intact and untainted, noting that throughout his distinguished career in the judiciary and public service, he resisted the defeatist mindset that “‘if you can’t beat them, join them.”
The president was further quoted to have said: “Great men like Akanbi didn’t believe in joining evil because it was popular or supported by the majority.”
The statement added that Buhari extended his heartfelt condolences to Akanbi’s family, the government and people of Kwara State and the entire Ilorin Emirate.
“The President prays that Almighty Allah will forgive the gentle soul of the deceased and reward his remarkable good deeds with Aljanna (paradise),” the statement added
Justice Akanbi’s Death, A Personal Loss
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has expressed grief over the death of a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, saying the incident was a personal loss to him.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, described the late Akanbi as an indefatigable, honest and principled jurist who upheld the fine ethics of the judicial process till he breathed his last.
“I am sad that Baba (Akanbi) has left us. He was fearless, courageous and spoke truth to power during his lifetime,” Saraki said. “He was like a father to me. His death is a personal loss. Kwara State will miss him. Nigeria will miss him,” he said.
He stated that the late Justice Akanbi would be remembered for his unquenchable zeal to restore the principles of transparency and accountability in the country through his fight against corruption.
Saraki noted: “He was an anti-corruption czar who fought the malaise both when he was in and out of office. He never gave up. His untiring zeal to stamp out corruption from all facet of our national life never dimmed. He lived what he preached and you could see there was no pretence about him at all.
“He was an incorruptible jurist whose judgements could hardly be faulted while on the bench. During his stint as Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), he fought corruption with uncommon passion and courage.
“After leaving office as the ICPC boss, he again joined the board of the Justice and Law Enforcement Reformation Organization – a non-profit organization – to continue his anti-corruption crusade. Besides, he later established the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation, in furtherance of his quest to strengthen the culture of transparency, accountability and good governance in the country,” Saraki stated.
He described Akanbi as a true son of Kwara State whose many contributions to the development of his immediate community, the state in particular, and the country in general, will remain indelible in the hearts of the people.
The Senate President commiserated with the immediate family of the deceased, the government and people of Kwara State, and urged them to emulate the virtues and values of integrity, selfless service and unparalleled patriotism of the late jurist.
While praying Almighty Allah to grant the soul of the departed a place among the righteous ones in Aljannah Firdaus, Saraki stated that he will continue to draw inspiration from the fact that late Justice Akanbi did not only live a worthy life but was a great blessing to his generation.
The Incorruptible Judge, Says Tinubu
The nation is diminished by the transition of Justice Mustapha Akanbi. His death isn’t just a loss to his family; it is a loss to us all. He was a renowned legal luminary, a highly respected judge and an elder statesman.
He was committed to the rule of law and social justice.Justice Akanbi was one of the few incorruptible judges the nation has ever produced. He epitomises all that is good about the judiciary. On the bench, as President of the Court of Appeal, he distinguished himself and gave the profession a good name.
As pioneer Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission in 2000, serving till around 2005, Justice Akanbi put in place the structures and laid the foundation for the working of the agency.
It is painful that his transition comes at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari has put the fight against corruption at the front burner. His Lordship’s experience as a judge with a clean record had been quite useful for the country’s fight against corruption.The legal profession, which he served all his life, will miss him. Justice Akanbi will be particularly missed by lawyers, judges and other Nigerians whom he inspired through his exemplary leadership style and uprightness.