Oba Imam-Fulani: A Jurist Bows-out @ 75

“Won o se eku anan ni ile kowa 2ce

Bi ose osan yo se owuro.

Won ase eku anon ni ile kowa”.

—Alhaji Ibrahim Alabi Labaeka (1920-2005)

Some months earlier, unfolding events had compelled a postulation from yours sincerely. It was to the effect that this outgoing year would go down in the annals of the southernmost Emirate as one in which quite a significant number of its distinguished statesmen concluded their life cycles. The postulation appears to be gaining scientific endorsement from chroniclers of history. This is particularly true among those who write history in a hurry otherwise called journalists. Is it not or are they not ? Harnessing the statistics of the truly distinguished people who passed on in the last twelve months reveals the loss of huge number of those whose profound knowledge, varied experiences,wide exposure and rare services would be sorely missed, particularly among the growing population of indigenes of Ilorin Emirate.

But what can we do other than to accept the inevitability of natural sequence, endure the domineering pervasiveness of scientific occurrences and imbibe unavoidable divine judgements? Death is a phenomenon, which unites all living things. It can neither be evaded nor avoided. No matter the greatness of someone born of a woman, he or she would surely kick the bucket one day. The wealthy cannot escape it. The poor can do nothing to prevent it. Death levels the eggheads with those who know next to nothing. It cares not about one’s beauty, elegance or majesty. Social status means nothing to it. The age of a victim is even not a barrier. Those who are careful would not live forever. Those who are careless would also not be exempted from it . The pious would go. The lives of those who are not will also be terminated. The summary of it all is that no one would live forever!

The most disturbing thing is that,unlike in other climes, most of those hitherto walking encyclopedias of our past were too busy to document their earthly careers. Many of them even “forgot” their career paths and contributions courtesy of senility imposed amnesia. Only a few of such individuals had their experiences relayed and preserved in electronic forms for posterity.

Honourable Justice Abdulkadir Oba Imam-Fulan’s time to go has come. And he has gone and gone forever. He would only be remembered through his deeds and records. He died on Thursday (December 10,2020) after what family sources described as “old age related physiological complications”.

The deceased was undoubtedly a distinguished jurist, seasoned teacher, versatile administrator and renowned community leader. He was born in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on June 15,1945 to the illustrious Agaka-Isale segment of the scholarly Imam-Fulani family of Ilorin. His father was Shaykh Ibrahim Dasuki,the 8th Chief Imam of Ilorin, while his mother was Alhaja Ruqayyah Gogo Onide,who hailed from Isale-Olokun Quarters along Eruda Street in the same Agaka-Isale area of Ilorin.

As not unexpected of the scion of a foremost spiritual leader ,this great son of Ilorin Emirate started his real life as a pupil of a traditional Quranic school where he was trained in the skills of reading and recitation of the Holy Quran. Through that form of education , young Oba was profoundly inculcated with the rudimentary knowledge of Islam and the essence of life as a Muslim,which he imbibed along with the rich cultural contents of Ilorin.

For his formal western education, Justice Imam-Fulani was enrolled as a pupil of the famous Ansarul Islam Primary School, Okekere, Ilorin, in 1952. While schooling at “the first Muslim school in Ilorin Emirate”, he was not only trained in “western education, culture and civilisation” but also received deeper knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies from the institution, which was founded and managed by the celebrated first Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy, MFR, OFR, ORSA, FISN ,(1905-2005), the unforgettable founder of the Ansarul Islam Society of Nigeria. He eventually received his First School Leaving Certificate from the renowned institution in 1960. He was a member of the third set of the graduands of the bicultural school founded on January 1,1947.The present Khalifat Adabiyyin, Shaykh Abdulkadir Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy; the late Brigadier-General AbdulRasheed Kamaldeen and the late Mallam Musa Adeleke Ahmad, who, once upon a time, served as the Provost of the Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, were some of his contemporaries at the school.

On the completion of his primary education studies, the late jurist proceeded to the then Ilorin Teachers’ College (now Sheikh Abdulkadir College), Ilorin.He was trained at the school from 1964 to 1968 at the end of which he received both the Grade III and Grade II Teacher’s Certificates. The incumbent Khalfat Adabiyyin, Shaykh Abdulkadir Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy; the late Mallam Musa Adeleke Ahmad and Hajiya Muslima Kamaldeen, MON, were, again, among his mates at the old College.

Between 1970 and 1973, the Honourable Justice Imam-Fulani attended the then Advanced Teachers’ College (now Shehu Shagari College of Education), Sokoto. He was trained as a middle-level teacher at the institution and consequently received his Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), which qualified him to teach English/Arabic Language/General Science at secondary school level. He had Hajiya Muslima Kamaldeen, MON, as a contemporary too, among others.

Justice Imam-Fulani immediately headed for the then Abdullahi Bayero College, (now Bayero University),Kano, then a campus of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It was at that famous citadel of learning that he pursued and earned a Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from 1973 to 1976. In order to broaden his knowledge, he took part in several intellectually stimulating and professionally – engaging workshops, seminars and conferences especially for Judicial Officers at the end of which he was issued with appropriate Certificates.

Justice Imam-Fulani had earlier started his glowing career as a teacher. He was a probational Arabic Pupil Teacher at Okeya-Ipo in the present-day Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State where he taught between 1961 and 1962. He was posted to Okeya-Ipo by his mentor and teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Kamaluddeen Al-Adabiyy where he worked enormously for Islam . On the directive of the same paragon of Islamic learning and modesty , Justice Imam-Fulani similarly taught at Erin-Ile in the present-day Oyun Local Government Area from January to December, 1963.

Sequel to his graduation as a Grade II teacher, this great jurist taught at Pake Local Education Authority School, Ilorin,between 1969 and 1970. He also taught at the famous AbdulAzeez Attah Memorial College, Okene, Kogi State from 1973 to 1976. He was also a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies at the then Omu-Aran Teachers’ College, Omu-Aran from 1976 to 1978.

He, thereafter, transferred his services to the Kwara State Local Government Service Commission in the course of which he served at the old Ilorin Local Government Council in 1978 as an Assistant Secretary 1. He also served as a Senior Assistant Secretary at the Irepodun Local Government Council in 1980 and finally as the Administrative Secretary to the defunct Osin Local Government Council in 1982.

In April,1982, Justice Imam-Fulani joined the judicial service as an high-ranking staff of the Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal as the Ag.Chief Registrar. He subsequently served as the substantive Chief Registrar of the Court between December, 1982 and November, 1988. He served under the founding father of the court , Honourable Justice Abdulkadir Orire,CON (b.1934), the Marafa and Sarkin Malamai of Ilorin.

Following a consistent display of competence and professionalism, the appointment of this great Jurist as a Judge of the Sharia Court of Appeal was confirmed in November, 1989 by the then Armed Forces Ruling Council,which epitomised the highest executive and legislative level of military administration presided-over by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR (b. 1941),who served as the Military President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between August, 1985 and August, 1993.The confirmation made him the third son of Ilorin Emirate who was appointed as a Khadi of the Sharia Court. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of a Presiding Judge of the Court in April,1997.

Apart from his regular services as a Khadi, Justice Imam-Fulani has also served the nation in various spheres. He served as a Federal Welfare Officer who led pligrims to Mecca and Medina from 1978 to 1980. He was also a Member of the Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board between 1980 and 1983.

Justice Imam-Fulani was also a regular Presenter of Islamic programmes on the electronic-media, particularly on Radio Kwara and the Nigerian Television Authority, Ilorin, between 1977 and 1985. He also delivered series of public lectures to various Muslim organisations on several important occasions and at various forums.

He was also a Member of several Election Petition Tribunals across Nigeria at various times. He served as such in Kaduna, Borno and Kwara States in December, 1998; January, 1999 and March,1999 respectively.

Honourable Justice Imam-Fulani, who initially served as the Ag.Grand Khadi in September, 2005 when the substantive holder of the office then, Honourable Justice M. A.Ambali, OFR (b. 1943) , traveled out of the country, was eventually appointed as the substantive Grand Khadi of Kwara State in 2008. He held the office between 2008 and June,2010.He eventually handed-over to Justice Idris Abdullahi Haroon (b.1948) upon his retirement from service following his attainment of the age of 65.

Justice Imam-Fulani was the third Grand Khadi of Kwara State. Honourable Justice Abdulkadir Orire, who was the pioneer Grand Khadi served from 1975 to 2001 and the Honourable Justice Mutalub Ahmad Ambali, held the office as the second Grand Khadi between 2001 and 2008.

The several services of this illustrious son of Ilorin Emirate as a Jurist, technocrat and teacher did not go unrewarded.This appreciative nation conferred on him the award of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) during the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2009.

Justice Imam-Fulani lived a fulfilled life. He was a great family man who lived a polygamous life like most of his contemporaries and compatriots. He was blessed with several children and numerous grandchildren who are doing very well in their various careers.

The late jurist was an orator. He was also a man who would never minced words. He expressed his impressions based on personal conviction. He never promised what he would never do, no matter who was concerned . He was very pragmatic and always seen trying to achieve many things at a time.

He was also very hardworking. He loved those who are industrious and religious and would only give out his daughters for marriage to those who demonstrated “Islamic understanding”, which he always confirmed through the test in Quranic recitation competence and demonstrated understanding of Islam through exceptionally revealing questions he often asked men who sought the hands of his many daughters in marriages. And when he believed in a course, Justice Imam-Fulani would go to any length to get it achieved either for himself or for those who contacted him for one assistance or the other, particularly when he was hale and hearty. No one, to him, was unapproachable .

May I, on behalf of the National President of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU),Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, fsi, and the generality of members of the Union send my condolences to His Royal Highness, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji(Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, on the death of one of his prominent subjects. I also sympathise with the past and present members of the Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal family as well as with his friends, wives and children most especially Hajiya Bashirat Imam who happens to be the wife to my younger brother ,Engr Abdulateef Imam of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company. May Allah forgive the shortcomings of the departed jurist and grant all the bereaved the fortitude to bear his demise. I also pray that may his soul finds Allah’s limitless favour as it commences the journey to eternity. Aamiin.

Imam is National Publicity Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union

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