By Layi Babatunde, SAN
He was honourable in every true sense of the word and lived a fulfilled life that touched many lives positively and will continue to, for years to come.
Baba Akanbi’s life was an open book, from which many of us drew inspiration and learnt many enduring life lessons. He loved and cared passionately for his family and many others associated with him. My lord and his late wife showered love and kindness on me and my family for which I am forever grateful. I am grateful for the honest and warm conversations. His counsel, words of wisdom and support, enriched my life, while his kindness towards my late mother (while alive and even in death) remains indelible in my memory.
To him, humanity is one. He was not one to discriminate on account of tribe or religion or creed. He served God and humanity with passion and Nigeria was mostly on his mind for good. His dream and expectation is that Nigeria will overcome her many challenges, for this reason, his voice of caution was not silenced, even after taking early voluntary retirement from the exalted position of president of court of appeal. He abhorred corrupt practices and fought many battles as pioneer ICPC chair. On one occasion, he almost lost his life in a fatal attack, while travelling by road. His orderly however, paid the supreme price. Yet, he never gave up. He was resolute in his fight against corruption, a fight he continued to pursue even out of office, through his Foundation, the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation, MAF. On occasions when some of us suffered fits of despair and even frustration, his refrain was: ‘Layi, a o ni gba fun won’! (Layi, we’ll not let them be”). No wonder, a respected national newsmagazine, in a screaming cover page, most deservedly, described the late erudite jurist as ‘Nigeria’s Mr. Clean’!
He was well loved and revered, both in the Legal community and society generally, not for the abundance of his material possessions, but for the depth of his humane and forthright disposition, his is a big lesson for us all today, in a world where sheer materialism has become the order of the day. He lived his favourite saying ‘humility is beauty’s crown. The saying that Baba Akanbi, will be greatly missed, is undoubtedly an understatement, but God loves him more and has called him to rest. With immense pain in our hearts, but complete gratitude to God for an exemplary, fruitful and inspirational life, to which I bear personal testimony, we say good night. It was a great honour and most humbling experience to have known him and to share Baba’s closing chapters on Mother Earth, with him in the hospital.
May Baba’s noble soul rest in perfect peace and may God grant the family and all of us associated with him, comfort and peace at this time. May God grant us the grace, to also bear edifying and enduring fruits.