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Prince Abdul-Jabbar Bolasodun Adesumbo Ajibola (SAN, KBE, LL.D, D.LITT, CFR),

Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Abdul-Jabbar Bolasodun Adesumbo Ajibola (SAN, KBE, LL.D, D.LITT, CFR), is a man of many parts who is always a news maker.

The legal giant, who was the former Head of the Nigeria High Commission in Britain, is an international adjudicator, a mediator of first rate importance, an ambassador, a peace negotiator, a humanitarian, a devout Muslim, and an accomplished proprietor.

Born on March 22, 1934 in Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to Oba Abdul-Salam Ajibola Gbadela II, who ruled Owu between 1949 and 1972, Ajibola attended Owu Baptist Day School and Baptist Boys’ High School both in Abeokuta between 1942 and 1955. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Law (LL.B) at the Horlborn College of Law, University of London between 1959 and 1962 and was called to the English Bar at the Lincoln’s Inn in 1962. He retuned to Nigeria to practise the Law, specialising in Commercial Law and International Arbitration.

Ajibola is respected within and outside the country. Within 23 years of practising the noble profession, he rose to become the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) between 1984 and 1985; chairman of the Body of Benchers (1989-1990); chairman of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (1986 to date); president of the Association of Arbitrators of Nigeria; chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar; chairman of the General Council of the Bar; chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy; member of the Nigeria Police Council; member of the Advisory Judicial Committee; member of the Judicial Service Committee (Abuja); chairman of the Task Force for the Revision of the Laws of the Federation (1990); Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation; member of the Nigerian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly (1986); temporary President of the United Nations General Assembly at its seventeenth special session on narcotic drugs (1990); member of the International Law Commission.

He was also a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague); member of the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration; member of the International Maritime Arbitration Commission, Paris; member of the Panel of International Arbitrators of the London Institute of Arbitrators; member of the International Advisory Committee of the World Arbitration Institute, U.S.A.

Ajibola was also the Vice-President of the International Contractual Relations Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce; Vice-President of the Institute of International Business Law and Practice, Paris; National Chairman of the World Peace Through Law Centre; represented Africa in the demonstration trial on the law of the sea at the World Peace Through Law Conference (Manila, 1970); fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; friend of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London; member of the African Bar Association; the International Bar Association; the Association of World Lawyers; among others.

He has over 20 publications to his credit, and he was an editor of many.

Among other awards, he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; recipient of 1986 Ogun State of Nigeria Outstanding Citizen Merit Award; Life Member, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs; and Life Member, Body of Benchers, Nigeria.

He later became the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, and in 1991 was nominated to replace the former Judge and President, Teslim Elias, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands. His first assignment at the ICJ was the Lockerbie trial, a case involving Libya and the United Kingdom and United States of America. He did creditably well.

"I produced the most comprehensive among my colleagues of 92 pages, which I presented to them that really convinced some of them to come to my side because we wrote a dissenting opinion. Just imagine, someone just coming in into a court and for the first time in the history of your being there and you are being asked to present your own view about a case and instead of saying I concur or I support, you now led people to disagree and telling them legally and soundly the reason why you disagreed," Ajibola said.

He was also a Judge of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal; Constitutional Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Arbitrator for the Boundary Dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea and one of the Commissioners empanelled by the United Nations Compensation Commission to decide on the compensation claims filed by Kuwait against Iraq as a result of the Gulf War. Ajibola became the President of the World Association of Judges of the World Jurist Association in Washington D.C.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) practised in Lagos, Abeokuta and Kaduna between 1962 and 1985 as a legal practitioner from the magistrate courts to the Supreme Court. Between 1984 and 1985, he was the President of NBA and then served as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice between 1985 and 1991.

Ajibola’s outstanding feats at the Justice Ministry would continue to be remembered as he was the Minister, who revived the rested publication of All Nigerian Law Report that was started during the period of the late Judge Teslim Elias as the Attorney-General of the Federation. According to Ajibola, "It was during my tenure that we broke the jinx of not publishing the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria that used to be published every decade." He did not only rejuvenate the publication, but all the previous publications were also prepared and published by him from 1958 to 1990.

He has presented papers at overt 50 international legal conferences on all the continents of the World. He also has over 15 publications to his credit, two in his honour and over 20 published law papers in national and international journals.

A humanitarian to the core, Ajibola is an epitome of empathy. Little wonder that he established two non-governmental organizations, the African Concern (AC) and the Islamic Movement for Africa (IMA). The AC helps in to promoting love, peace, tolerance, and harmony and to eradicating poverty as well as improving the health and education of the peoples of Africa. It was registered in Lusaka, the Gambia, on May 8, 1995 to heal the wounds of Africa, through self-help by Africans to solve problems of refugees arising from displacement, armed conflicts, and natural disasters. The organisation has been alleviating the problems of refugees at Oru-ljebu in Nigeria, and has various camps in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help refugees in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Rwanda.

Ajibola presided as the chairman of the Nigeria-Cameroon Mixed Commission, which which was established in 2002 following the International Court of Justice Judgement, which ceded the oil-rich Bakassi Penissulla to Cameroon.

IMA was established by Ajibola in December 1999 to present Islam in Africa as the religion of peace, tolerance and harmony. Its research centre at Abeokuta, has a library and audio-visual centre for improvement of minds; multi-purpose hall for religious dialogue, lectures, film shows and socials; and guest chalet for rest and relaxation for researchers and visitors.

An education enthusiast, Ajibola’s university, Crescent University, was approved by the Federal Government in 2005. Since then the institution has become an enviable citadel of learning.

The Owu Chief is currently the chairman of the panel set up by the Plateau State Government to probe the recent crisis in Jos, the state capital.

A lover of nature, Ajibola’s country home in Abeokuta is a mini-zoo as all kinds of birds and animals can be found there.

He is married and blessed with five children, all lawyers.

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