By Hon Femi Kehinde
In law practice, the way you start is the way you end. Your entry point is most likely your exit point. Starting law practice as an ambulance chaser or charge and bail would place you on a pedestal that may not be enduring. There is a dote of finesse and elegance that brands your style of practice. Whether it would be pedestrian or corporate, SPA chose the latter.
Personality, upbringing, parentage and character distinguish a person. It is an assemblage of these that determines man’s attitude and altitude.
S. P. A Ajbade’s law practice is an assemblage of the above mentioned factors that are multi dimensionally intertwined and inter-related.
A proper analysis of his law practice can only be properly contextualized from the story of his early beginning.
Chief Joshua Ojo Ajibade, the Egbedi of Ado-Ekiti, who was born around 1880 and died on the 20th of October, 1965, was SPA’s illustrious father. He was installed the Egbedi of Ado Ekiti in 1948.
The Egbedi was one of early Nigeria’s highly successful, resourceful entrepreneur and merchant. He was self made and self taught. He had in his early days, escaped from Ado Ekiti, to work as a house boy for the colonial Divisional Officer’s steward in Ilesha.
Through this relationship, he picked up the rudiments of English culture, enterprise and business. Around this period, cocoa had just been introduced as a cash crop. Coincidentally, the first cocoa plantation in Nigeria was built on Ijesha soil by Geragu Thompson, who started a large cocoa plantation in Eti-Oni, Ilesha. Interestingly, the first local government administration in Nigeria started in Ilesha in 1900.
From Ilesha, Joshua Ojo left for Ibadan, where he worked briefly as a labourer and later, after self tutelage, moved back to Ado Ekiti where he started a thriving business of cocoa farming, produce merchandise and enduring business relationships with expatriates. He was perhaps the first UAC factor in Ekiti land and Ondo province.
The Egbedi, upon his death on the 20th of October 1965, was survived by about 22 children and 10 wives of whom Simon Peter Abiodun Ajibade was the 4th child.
A brief chronicle
Gbadura Ajibade was born on the 24th of December 1934 to Mama Rachael Tinuola and Joshua Ojo Ajibade on the eve of a major festival. His birth was not recorded. On the 8th day after his birth he was named Gbadura. He was enrolled in school as Gbadura. He however did not like his name and was curious to know his exact date of birth.
The mother solved the riddle. She said Gbadura was born on the eve of a popular festival that was later reckoned to be Christmas eve and thus suggested his date of birth to be 24th of December and his name to be Abiodun. Abiodun, in Yoruba culture is a name given to children born around major festivals and more commonly now, to children born around Christmas or the beginning of a new year.
“But what of the year?”
The mother said the Ooni of Ife-Oba Adesoji Aderemi that was installed Ooni in 1930, paid his first royal visit to Ado-Ekiti, about 6 years after his ascension to the great stool of Ooni of Ife. The mother further re-collected that Gbadura trekked along the welcoming route with her, to the Palace Square of Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, to welcome the visiting Ooni of Ife.
To Gbadura, this revelation suggested that he must have been about a two or three-year old boy, to have been able to trek the distance, from his house to the Palace Square with his mother.
This was how the year 1934 came about. It couldn’t have been 1933, anyway because an elder brother, had assumed that year.
Gbadura went through School but was equally not comfortable with the name, amidst fanciful English names being paraded by his fellow school mates. The name Simon became attractive to him. But he needed it double barrelled and he added Peter and thus the name Simon Peter Abiodun Ajibade. The Gbadura disappeared.
Simon Peter Abiodun Ajibade, left Primary school in 1949. In 1950, he was admitted to the popular Hussey College Warri under the UAC scholarship, through the influence of one of his father’s expatriate friends. Hussey College, founded and established in February 1947 by Ogbeni Newe Rewane, Alfred Rewane and Chief Elliot Andrew Begbo and other Itsekiri personalities was named after Robert James Hussey, the first British Director of Education in Nigeria.
Perhaps because of distance, he left Hussey College for Christ School Ado Ekiti in 1951. In May 1957, at the age of twenty two years, he completed his studies and passed his West African Secondary School examination in flying colours. The year 1957 marked a sudden twist and a turning point in his life, which he then described as “a bewilderment”.
The brief stint in Warri had exposed him at an early stage, to a cosmopolitan Nigerian life. He had known and met people from various backgrounds tribes, cultures and tendencies.
After a successful secondary school education he worked briefly as a class tutor at the Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, established in 1932, by the late Ife Monarch Ooni Adesoji Aderemi, who was very well known and friendly with SPA’s father, Chief Joshua Ojo Ajibade, the Egbedi of Ado Ekiti.
During his brief stint at the Oduduwa College under the Principalship of Rev. Adeyefa, he lived in the household of the Ooni and became friendly with so many of his children.
In November 1957, he travelled on his father’s sponsorship to the United Kingdom to study law. He had also used UAC scholarship, at the Christ School, Ado Ekiti, between 1952 and 1957, as a result of his father’s relationship with the UAC.
On the 7th of November 1957 SPA Ajibade flew out of Nigeria aboard the Saborri Airline, via Accra, Bathurst (now Banjul) and Tangier to London with a flight ticket costing about £35 (Thirty Five Pounds.)
His father placed him on a monthly stipend of about £25 (twenty-five Pounds) with strict instructions from his father to qualify as a lawyer within three years.
In England, he initially enrolled at the North Western Polytechnic Nw5 for Advanced Level Studies and was on the 28th of January 1958, enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn of the Council of Legal Education, to qualify as a lawyer.
He passed the Bar final examination in the summer of 1960 in the second division which was a high grade performance and was called to the bar on the 22nd of November 1960. He was actually the 22nd in terms of performance within the British Common Wealth. He left London by Sea alongside some eminent Nigerians.
In retrospect, after becoming a lawyer and his journey through life, he then appreciated his father with fondness gratitude and thankfulness
In his growing up years, because of the need for the best for Peter, his father had between 1943 and 1945 sent him to Oshogbo to live with Mr. A. A Abiodun, a strict teacher and disciplinarian before coming back to Ado Ekiti, to complete his Primary education.
In Christ School, his father did not spoil him with his wealth but always emphasized the need for honesty transparency and integrity.
In school, Peter needed a Fountain pen, but he knew his father would never give him money to buy one. So, he asked him for money to buy a dictionary, costing 4S 6P (Four shillings Six pence). The rich father obliged him and he bought a fountain pen with some extra cash in his pocket.
He needed to show his father the dictionary and had to borrow one from a classmate to show to his father.
The father, impressed by the dictionary, flipped through it and discovered a strange name at the back of the book, which was unknown to Peter.
The father scolded and reprimanded him and asked for immediate refund of his money. He went to return the fountain pen back to the seller and returned the money back to his father.
This was a great demand by his father from him in honesty, transparency and integrity. These formed the foundational values of his practice as a barrister and solicitor.
Peter had wanted to study medicine or Agricultural Science, but his father suggested Law. He is now a lawyer.
SPA arrived back in Nigeria on the 14th of December, 1960 and then enrolled in the Supreme Court on the 19th of December 1960. Upon his arrival in Nigeria from the United Kingdom, his first mentor was Chief Jonathan Akinola, a native of Ido Ekiti. He was a relation of his father-in-law. According to SPA, “My father-in-law’s junior sister was actually married to the Akinola Family.”
Chief Jonathan Akinola introduced SPA to Chief Richard Akinjide, who already had a law practice in Ibadan.
Chief Richard Akinjide was an NCNC stalwart and was deeply involved in its Politics. He had assisted Dingle Foot Q. C, in the popular case of slapping a judge – i. e. Daniel Tayo Akinbiyi, a customary court judge that had cited Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemensi to court for contempt of court. D.T Akinbiyi later became Olubadan of Ibadan.
SPA could not stay for more than a few months with Chief Richard Akinjide because- “we were not of the same political tendency.”
He shuttled between Akure and Ibadan and eventually, joined the thriving law practice of Mr. J. O. B Omotosho.
J.O.B Omotosho, born in 1918 was called to the bar in 1948, a contemporary of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Justice Teslim Ellias and a few others. After his call to the bar, he stayed in England for several years, before his friends encouraged him to relocate back home and practice law.
J.O.B Omotosho was a Marxist socialist and did not marry until about 1960. He came back to Nigeria between 1955 and 1956 with the encouragement of some of his friends- Chief T.O.S Benson, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Agunbiade Bamishe. He settled in Ibadan and set up a law practice at Idikan in Ibadan.
He was a native of Ipoti Ekiti. In his chambers were younger counsels like M.O Agbetuyi and N. Arowogbusoye a native of Ijebu Ijesha.
As a socialist, he was handling several cases probono for socialist workers union. His bosom friend, Chief TOS Benson had become a notable politician in Nigeria and as a result of his busy schedule as a Politician, Minister, Member of Parliament, he collaborated with the law practice of J. O. B Omotosho and transferred so many of his cases in the Western Region to the law firm. The influential T.O.S Benson had a lot of expatriate clients in the Western Region and all these were transferred to J.O.B Omotosho’s firm. The law firm was very busy and had then relocated from Idikan to Fagboun building Oke Bola. It was at Oke Bola office that SPA joined the firm in 1961.
According to SPA, he was in his law practice as a young counsel but was still eager to join the Civil Service. He applied to the Ministry of Justice through the advice of a bosom friend Mr. Babatunde Delana, who was already a pupil counsel in the Ministry of Justice.
“I informed my Principal Mr. J.O.B Omotosho of this step and he was magnanimous enough to give me a ride to the venue of the interview because he knew I would probably not be employed. To his dismay and my surprise too, I was employed as a pupil crown counsel and transferred to Akure.
“In the Ministry, I met Akin Apara, Olowofoyeku, Michael Ogundare, and we became jolly good friends.
“I was in Akure as a pupil crown counsel but was not busy enough, as I would have wanted as a young man. I had left the busy practice of J. O. B Omotosho in Ibadan. It was in this pondering that Michael Ogundare who visited the courts regularly, as a crown counsel, introduced me back to JOB Omotosho, whom I joined again in 1963.
“I was with the Ministry of Justice for about 9 months and I resigned my appointment.” –were SPA’s narratives.
In life, according to SPA Ajibade, “the overriding part of everything you do is luck.” He came back to the practice of J. O. B Omotosho in full swing.
J. O. B Omotosho had become more prominent, busy and resourceful. He had so many expatriate clients, so many socialist workers cases, etc. Among his corporate clients were the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, the Nigerian Building Society, the Coast Timbers Company, etc.
J.O.B, and Chief TOS Benson had been good friends since the early 40s as Customs Officers in Port Harcourt before they went to England to study law.
In England, J. O. B became friends with T. A Ogbe, popularly known as Tommy Ogbe, an Urhobo man who was married to Hilda, a German. T. A Ogbe had a thriving law practice in the Mid West Region of Nigeria.
Ogbe though successful in practice, perhaps because of the influence of his German wife decided to leave the Bar for the Bench.
Hilda had returned to Nigeria with Tommy in 1966 and was naturalized in 1967. She wrote her popular book, narrating her experience- in “The Crumbs off the Wife’s Table.”
Tommy Ogbe now Magistrate, transferred all his cases, mostly from the Mid Western Nigeria to the law firm of J. O.B Omotosho in Ibadan.
The firm then became very extremely busy. SPA became extremely busy too in the law practice of J.O.B Omotosho. At times, J.O.B allowed him to handle cases in the Delta region, asides from their busy solicitors and advocacy practice in the Western Region. SPA in the course of this practice, got really involved in his Principal’s law practice. He served with diligence, loyalty and extreme hard work.
The law firm of J.O.B Omotosho continually thrived. S. P. A, encouraged by this thriving law practice, approached J. O. B for partnership. J. O. B though, not surprised by SPA’s boldness and courage declined SPA’s request.
As evidence of this thriving law practice, the law firm relocated from the Fagboun building in Oke Bola to the more prestigious John Holt building in Gbagi, opposite the Kingsway stores.
A tall tree, usually may not stay too long in the forest. J. O. B Omotosho, the highly resourceful and prominent Ibadan Lawyer died in a ghastly motor accident on the Lagos/Shagamu Road, on the 20th of May, 1967 at the age of 49 years.
The death of J.O.B was certainly a big blow to S.P.A Ajibade and perhaps, with the future unknown. The law firm had so many clients and a number of clients came to withdraw their briefs from the firm. There were so many retainers who also withdrew their retainership except The Coast Timber Company, a good client paying the highest retainership fee of £1000 (One Thousand Pound pounds) every January. The company had paid the traineeship fee for 1967.
In the condolence letter addressed to S.P.A Ajibade, the company expressed their deep condolences on the death of J.O.B Omotosho, but maintained, that the retainership would elapse by the end of 1967.
Some lawyers pursued the takeover of briefs from J.O.B’s law firm and were assisted by influncial Nigerians.
In January, 1968, the Coast Timber Company (CTC) wrote a letter to SPA expressing their regret to discontinue with the retainership with the law firm of J. O. B Omotosho and transferred the brief to the law firm of Shina Odedina.
As a result of this, SPA had offered to continue with the law practice of J.O.B Omotosho but the widow of J.O.B declined, but rather folded up the law practice and thus SPA had no choice but to set up his own law practice-SPA Ajibade’s and Co, debut, between late 1967 and early 1968 and thus the beginning of an epochal journey that has witnessed several twists, labyrinths and turning points.
“Peter, not Peter the Apostle, but Peter the Hero of High Walpole’s Novel entitled “FORTITUDE ” said, “it is not life that matters, but the courage you bring to it” was part of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s memorable speech and allocutus upon his conviction for treasonable felony, by Judge Sodeinde Sowemimo on the 23rd of September, 1963.
Peter Ajibade has always been a good disciple of this memorable quote.
The law practice of SPA Ajibade following the patterns of his late principal, also began to blossom with a number of corporate clients amongst several other good patronage.
Chief T.O.S Benson who was J.O.B Omotosho’s very good friend and associate in practice supported SPA Ajibade in his new firm to ensure continuity of briefs from these corporate firms most especially from the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, some banks and corporate organizations that TOS Benson could exercise influence upon.
Interestingly, H. T. O Coker, who had a practice with an expatriate called Impey in a partnership known as Impey and Coker Solicitors, were the Solicitors to Royal Exchange in the Eastern part of Nigeria before the civil war broke out in 1967. The Royal Exchange Assurance Company, in a way to find job for the firm of Impey and Coker Solicitors, asked the firm to take over the briefs of Royal Exchange in the Western Region already in the firm control of the law firm of SPA Ajibade and company.
This was a big blow to a practice that was being sustained by the regular patronage of Royal Exchange Assurance in both solicitors and advocacy practice. The Royal Exchange Assurance Company Limited instructed the firm of SPA Ajibade to hand over all the briefs in the Western Region, being handled by them, to the firm of Impey and Coker Solicitors.
SPA’s major philosophy in life was never to hassle for briefs or anything in life. Contentment and a hand of destiny have always been his guiding principle.
SPA handed over all the briefs to HTO Coker, who returned the same briefs back to SPA in collaboration.
With equanimity, SPA obliged with this new status and was handling cases for Royal Exchange through HTO Coker. In other words, he had to report to HTO Coker, the status of cases bring handled for Royal Exchange, instead of the earlier position of direct link and contact with the Royal Exchange Assurance.
Royal Exchange Assurance became uncomfortable with this slow line of action, as against the direct link they had earlier enjoyed, in the law firm of SPA.
The company decided to throw up this arrangement and restablished a direct link back to the law firm of SPA Ajibade and Company.
The moral lesson is patience and endurance. If SPA Ajibade had in anger, despair and annoyance disallowed the HTO’s Coker arrangement with a rebuff, the opportunity for a sustained relationship with the Royal Exchange would have wittingly or unwittingly been destroyed.
Royal Exchange contributes or constitutes an enormous percentage of SPA’s law practice. It was its honey pot.
The Nigerian Building Society that later became the Federal mortgage bank, was also a big client of SPA Ajibade.
In 1973, General Yakubu Gowon as Head of State of Nigeria, following the nationwide strike of University lecturers, disallowed them from further staying at University Staff quarters. A number of University lecturers were suddenly caught by this order to quit staff quarters.
Some of them had to approach the Nigerian Building Society now known as the Federal Mortgage Bank for loan- i.e- legal mortgage, to build their own houses all over Ibadan, more particularly, Iyaganku , Bodija, Idi-Ishi, Jericho and so on.
The firm of SPA was the Bank’s major external solicitor to handle all these legal mortgages. The firm became highly busy and made some good money in the process.
The John Holt building law office became a real law rendezvous.
In Ajibade’s law practice he has introduced corporate branding, elegance, finesse dexterity, serious legal business and organization. After all, in his early beginning, he had entered law practice with a Chevrolet car, given to him by his late father chief J. O Ajibade’s, he sold this car in 1961 to buy his first car a volkswagin beetle, with plate no- WAB57. His father had bought this Cherolet car in 1955.
The practice continues to blossom and was also extremely busy. He has cultivated the habit of not mixing pleasure with legal business- a highly focused and fecund mind.
In retrospect, in1965, SPA Ajibade had contested an election to represent Ado Ekiti Federal Constituency in the Western Region House of Assembly on the platform of Independent UPGA, specifically on the 11th of October, 1965.
SPA due to party intrigues manipulations and violence that marred this election, lost the election. Unfortunately, his father- Chief Joshua Ojo Ajibade, the Egbedi of Ado Ekiti, died some few days after the election on the 20th of October 1965.
As a result of this loss, SPA Ajibade bade farewell to party politics and it’s shenanigans and swore never to return to it again and face his law practice with renewed strength and vigour.
However, SPA was rather involved in the Bar politics of the Ibadan branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and its National body.
He was in 1964, the Assistant Secretary of the Ibadan branch of the NBA, with Yinka Ayoola as the secretary.
The position which he also held in 1965.
He became the secretary of the Nigerian bar Association between 1966 and 1967 and the Assistant National Secretary between 1968 and 1969.
Chief Olisa Chukura, was the Secretary of the Ibadan branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, before Yinka Ayoola and Ladoshu Ladapo took over from SPA Ajibade as Secretary of the Ibadan branch of the NBA.
On the 29th of July, 1975, there was a bloodless military coup, that ousted the government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon as head of state and replaced with Brig. Muritala Mohammed.
Consequently, all the military governors in the 12 states in Nigeria were equally replaced. Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi was replaced with Navy Captain Babatunde Aduwo in July 1975 as Governor of the Western State and lasted as governor for about 30 days.
Aduwo a native of Ode Aye, Okiti Pupa in the Western State, was removed or rescued from his position because he was, according to General Olusegun Obasanjo the new Chief of Staff Supreme Head Quarters, was “overwhelmed by the problems of the Western States”
A new governor- Col. David Madayese Jemibowon, an Okun Yoruba, from Iyah gbadde in the Ijumo Local Council Area of the then Kwara State, now Kogi State, succeeded him.
Like every other Nigerian, SPA Ajibade took this news with a stoic candour and indifference not knowing, that destiny was already carving a role for him in the new administration.
Right from the brief stay of Navy Capt Aduwo, unknown to him, some people had touted his name for consideration and appointment as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State.
Since October 1965, when he lost the election to represent Ado Ekiti central constituency in the Western Region House of Assembly, he had since bade farewell to Politics.
When Jemibowon assumed office as Military Governor, he also searched and found out SPA Ajibade as a suitable candidate as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the Western State.
In the course of his findings he was made to realise the fact, that SPA was not interested in government appointment but rather would wish to further entrench his thriving law practice in Ibadan.
A number of candidates had emerged from the 9 divisions of the Western State including SPA’s division, where Barrister Ademola Ajakaiye a colleague of Jembewon at the Offa Grammar School, Offa, was already being considered. But to Jembewon, SPA’s nomination was without divisional consideration.
A senior lawyer, Chief Dele Ige, around this period of grapevine rumors, accosted chief SPA Ajibade with the news of his being considered very highly as the Attorney General and commissioner of Justice of the Jembewon administration, when they met at the High Court 2 Iyaganku, Ibadan He simply told Chief Dele Ige that he was not interested.
A fellow occupant of the John Holt building, Office Company, Ggbagi Ibadan, Architect Adekunle, informed SPA Ajibade’s equally with gladness, passed over this news to him but SPA also rebuffed it.
He was already a very busy, resourceful lawyer and would not want anything to jeopardise this success. But Adekunle, a native of Erunmu, in Ibadan, witty and well versed in Yoruba Idioms, aphorisms and expressions, told the unyielding SPA-
and he said-
“won fe fi e J oye Ekerin Ilu
O n kun se E yan merin Pere l’owa ni ilu Yi ni?
“I learnt you were nominated for a top position in the land, do you think there are only 4 (four) people in the land for you to have gotten that consideration for appointment?”
Shortly thereafter Akin Apara of the Ministry of Justice, a very good friend, also called him and told him that the new governor Jembewon wanted to see him in a private chat and they went to the government house together to see the Governor.
He told SPA that he was being offered appointment as Attorney General, purely on track record, merit and integrity and he would like to work with him. He told the governor after expressing his profuse thanks for the worthy consideration, that he could only accept this position on about two or three terms-
1.) He had already secured a medical appointment at the University College Hospital London, where his wife was on a one year internship programme for theatre nursing. His wife had been with the UCH Ibadan since 1962 and this appointment had been scheduled for November and he would graciously seek for permission, to travel abroad with his children for this vacation having not visited U.K since 1960 when he left the UK for Nigeria after the completion of his law studies and call to the Bar at the Middle Temple Inns of Court.
To Jembewon, that was no issue and he granted the request almost immediately.
2. He heard from the grapevine that the Western State may soon be balkanized by the Federal Government and broken into three states, of which the Ondo Province where he comes from, would be carved out as a new state.
He would not wish to leave his thriving law practice in Ibadan for life in Akure, the likely capital, of the new state and that he would resign his appointment, as soon as this grapevine rumour becomes a reality, but that nontheless, with or without the new state he would not wish to stay more than one year in office as Attorney General.
This request was also granted by the governor.
On the 1st of November, 1975, SPA alongside other members of the cabinet and some newly appointed Justices of the High Court, like Justice Akin Apara, Yinka Ayoola, Bolarinwa Oyegoke Babalakin were also sworn in.
The exited governor, incognito with Justice Akin Apara, drove to the Felele house of chief SPA Ajibade’s to felicitate with him and share some drinks.
Justice Madarikan of the Court of Appeal, who had also spoken to and encouraged SPA Ajibade, also called him to congratulate him. Chief T.O.S Benson in a telegram message said- please accept our hearty congratulations, on your appointment as Attorney General of Oyo State. Olusa Chukura, Oladunni Ayandipo and many others also sent congratulatory messages.
As scheduled, SPA flew to the United Kingdom with his four children- Dele Molara, Bukola and Babatunde, for holidays and medical vacation and also to reunite with his wife, who had been in the UK on a training at the UCH, London.
The family came back from the UK around the 25th of January, and he was already being sort for, by the governor who probably thought, he was over staying his vacation.
SPA and Jembewon had since his appointment been bonded as jolly good fellows. On the 3rd of February 1976, the new Head of State Gen. Muritala Mohammed, in a Nationwide Broadcast, announced the creation of additional 7 states from 12 to 19 states.
Ondo, Oyo and Ogun states, were carved out from Western state.
Wing Commander Ita David Ikpeme became the first Military Governor of Ondo State and Col. Seidu Balogun also became the new Military Governor of Ogun state.
On the 7th of February, 1976, SPA Ajibade’s tendered his letter of resignation from the cabinet as Attorney General and Jembewon, now new governor of Oyo state regrettably, accepted the resignation with a specific instruction, for SPA to stay behind and assist in setting up the Ministry if justice in the new states and recommend suitable hands
Unfortunately, on the 13th of February 1976, Muritala Mohammed was killed in an unsuccessful military coup and his Deputy General Olusegun Obasanjo- “against his personal wish and desire” according to him, became the new Head of State. On the day of this coup there wasintermittent play of martial music heralding the new government, SPA was in the Ministry of Justice attending to official functions.
After series of phone calls, he left the venue of the meeting at the ministry of justice and personally drove his Mercedes Benz car to the governor’s office to see the governor.
On arrival at the governor’s office, he met the two other governors of the newly created state- Ondo and Ogun state, Ikpeme and Balogun, in Jembewon’s office.
They were discussing the coup and its implications. He advised them to quickly leave the governor’s office, because of security implications.
He advised Jembewon to follow him in his private car and the two of them drove out incognito out of the State secretariat.
He first of all drove Jembewon to his private residence in Bodija, where he changed his clothes and from there, drove him to his own residence in Felele in Ibadan, where he kept the governor.
SPA drove out of his Felele house residence, to find out more information about the coup and the situation in town.
It is interesting to note that shortly after he drove Jembewon, out of the governor’s office and the two other governors equally dispersed, a detachment of rampaging soldiers arrived to pick up the governor’s but unfortunately they couldn’t find them.
SPA ajibade arrived at his Felele house residence and took Jembewon to another safe location, until when it was safe for him to appear back to the public as well as to the office. This event bonded them the more.
Throughout the three months SPA was Attorney General, he was always working in his private chambers in the evenings, after close of work in the Ministry
While in the ministry SPA had deployed the services of Barrister H.B Fabunmi also an ex student if Christ School Ado Ekiti, to work in his chambers.
SPA moved back to his law practice and his thriving law practice, now at the Aje House, Ggbagi Ibadan, a well branded and organised law practice with modern high tech equipments, unsurpassed law library, conference centre and well organised lawyers cubicles and monitored with a CCTV camera.
To SPA, his sudden twist and turn in life and in law practice was a sudden and sharp change. To him-“what I am is not what u was projected to be, that I am what I am today is a bewilderment ”
He left secondary school at about 22 years when some of his colleagues and classmates, had left Christ school, at the age of 16 years.
To him, it was another turning point in life, considering the fact, that he came from a father that had 22 children and 10 wives.
The law firm of SPA Ajibade became well known and established.
The law firm now in control of a substantial percentage of expatriate clients like Joseph Tatouk, Motek of Oge Alakija, some Lebanese rich clients, corporate organisation’s and banks like- Arab bank, Habeb Bank, Union Bank, Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and so many others in the Western Region and also in Lagos, Lion of Africa Insurance Company and so many other insurance companies were also in its kitty.
A number of lawyers had certainly passed through his tutelage . The incumbent governor of Ondo State – Rotimi Akeredolu passed through the chambers and was also succeeded by the incumbent Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Olanrewaju Akeredolu who also became the new Chief Judge of Ondo state in April 2018.
On the departure of Mrs. Olarenwaju Akeredolu from SPAACO chambers some new lawyers like, SBA Ajayi, Christopher Ojei, Okin and many others, also passed through the chambers. SBA Ajayi has passed on but Ojei and Okin described their principal, Chief SPA ajibade during their sojourn in the law practice as a serious minded legal person, highly organised and a stickler for honesty, discipline and integrity.
To Ojei, the firm was ably run with finesse and purposefulness. To SPA, the beauty was not in winning all your cases by all means but in doing your very best. The firm’s Secretary- Godwin Oyobotu was a highly dilligent and efficient law clerk . He worked extra hours and extra miles to ensure quick and timely delivery, after all, according to Ojei, the firm pays its lawyers and staff very well, not only, in terms of salaries, but in emoluments and that he (Chris) was one of the highest paid young lawyers in practice, before he left the firm to establish his own law practice which he patterned after the law practice of SPAACO.
To him and Barrister Okin, SPAACO, does profit sharing with his lawyers and he kept to this very faithfully.
That so many years after Okin’s departure from the practice of SPAACO, he was still earning his commission, from the briefs he had handled for the law firm.
To his lawyers in chambers, SPA was always a father figure. Despite the inconvenience of a Christmas vacation Chief SPA Ajibade was able to attend the wedding ceremony of Christopher Ojei, with handsome contributions, which he had also done, when Chris Ojei was moving out of his father’s apartment, to secure his own private accommodation.
The Military government of Col. Jemibowon conceived the idea of an Ajoda new town development authority, that was conceptualized to relieve the population pressure of Ibadan. and thereby create a new form of urban society
A German firm Messers S.F Bau, was appointed by the military government to design a master plan for the new town.
The neighbourhood design concept, was adopted for the preparation of the master plan of the Ajoda new town and the development was to follow a three stage process.
The German firm, swung into action and also even though, not needed, collaborated with indigenous professionals, as requested by the government.
Unfortunately, this consultancy went awry, and the military government of Col. Oladayo Popoola of Oyo State set up a Commission of Enquiry, in 1985, known as the Ajoda Commission of Enquiry in respect of the Ajoda new town development and the consultancy firm of SF Bau GMBH company.
The firm is located in Monchengladbach Nordrhein-Westfalen, Western Germany.
The law firm of SPAACO, ably let by Chief SPA Ajibade was in 1985 engaged by the German Company to defend it, as its legal counsel, before the Ajoda commission of Enquiry, that was led by Justice Akin Apara as chairman and town planners. Oladapo and Agoro as members.
The Panel sat at the plenary chambers of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Agodi Ibadan.
At the Ajoda commission of enquiry, chief SPA Ajibade ably represented the interest of his client Messers SF Bau with legal dexterity, diligence, candour and competence
The legal fee paid to the firm of SPA was certainly good and substantial
In the course of the enquiry, Chief SPA Ajibade travelled very frequently between Nigeria and Germany to consult with his clients.
There were so many other land mark cases most especially relating to his corporate clients and the insured of the Royal Exchange Assurance company that the firm of SPA Ajibade had handled to represent his clients, in many courts across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
Chief SPA Ajibade has retired from legal practice and the firm is now being ably led by his successor, son and Senior Advocate of Nigeria- Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN. (PH.d) as managing partner of the now leading corporate and commercial law firm.
Dr. Babatunde Ajibade Ph.d SAN, graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1988 and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. He obtained an LL. M degree in corporate and commercial law from the popular king’s college London in 1990 and a Ph.d in corporate international law in 1996. He became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2007, the first member of the 1989 call set, to be conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The firm has its law practice at the SPAACO house Liberty Stadium Road, Oke Ado Ibadan and its Lagos Office at their SPAACO house building on the Lagos Island- Suite 201, SPAACO house 27A Mc Arty street, Onikan, Lagos.
Success without a worthy successor is certainly unsuccessful .
Chief SPA Ajibade, now retired from Law Practice and looking back, with grace and candour in the last 60 years of a distinguished law practice can now at all times, gleefully sing the Christian liturgy song- “Nunc Dimittis,” in appreciation of GOD’s grace and mercy.
The canticle of Simeon in Luke 2:29-32 in the Bible- Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word…” is certainly a beautiful Nunc Dimittis, song for Simon Peter Abiodun Ajibade.
Hon Femi Kehinde is a legal practitioner and former Member, House of Representatives, National Assembly Abuja, represented Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency of Osun State (1999-2003).