Meet The First Lawyer From Northern Nigeria Who Helped Drafted Nigeria’s First Constitution

Northern Nigeria's First Lawyer

Written by Deen Dabai

Deen Dabai, a microbiologist turned blogger, is the owner of arewamobile blog and a freelance writer at messagearewa blog. He has an interest in tech, SEO, Digital Marketing, Web Development & Social Media handling.

April 29, 2021

While northern Nigeria now boasts of so many lawyers and even Senior Advocates, it wasn’t always the same before. One might ask, who was the first person from northern Nigeria to become a lawyer? His name is none other than Alhaji AGF, Abdulganiyu Folorunsho Abdulrazaq SAN.

Background

Born in Onitsha, a metropolitan city of Anambra State in the Eastern part of Nigeria on 13th November 1927, Late Alhaji AGF, Abdulganiyu Folorunsho AbdulRazaq SAN, was the first indigenous northerner to become a lawyer. He is the first child of his parents, AbdulRazaq and Munirat who both hailed from the Ilorin-West Local Government Area of Kwara State.

Education

Young AGF started his early education at United African School in Ilorin. He was seven years at that time. He stayed for one year (1935-1936) before leaving the school. Before that, he has been attending Islamic schools for the acquisition of basic Islamic knowledge.

In 1938, Mr Ganiyu joined Church Missionary Society (CMS) Central school, Onitsha for 5 good years where he obtained his primary education.

For his secondary education, he attended two different schools. He first went to Kalabari National College Buguma in current day Rivers State from 1944 to 1945. After leaving Kalahari National College, he then joined African College Onitsha in that same year to 1947.

Before leaving Nigeria for Ireland, Alhaji AbdulGaniyu attended University college Ibadan for 1-year foundation studies which prepared him for undergraduate studies in Ireland’s top-ranked institution.

He obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in the year 1953, Bachelor of Legislative Law (LLB Hons) and Higher Diploma in Education from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland in 1954. He also obtained his masters of Arts (MA) degree in 1956, and he was able to get the prestigious title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, in 1985.

Career & Public Service

After obtaining a certificate of Bachelor of Legislative Law in 1954, AbdulRazaq was eventually called to bar in February 1955 at the Honourable society of Inner temple London. It is a professional body that provides legal training, selection, and regulation for barristers and judges. That gave him the honour to become the first lawyer in Northern Nigeria.

After returning to Nigeria, Abdulganiyu had been a private legal practitioner under the firm of law named Abdul Razaq and Co, until Nigeria got her independence in 1960.

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He was assigned to be a special member of the Northern House Of Assembly. After spending two years in the assembly, he was given an ambassadorial appointment to Ivory Cost, a position he held from 1962 to 1964.

Aside from being the first lawyer as well as the first to bear the title of SAN in northern Nigeria, AbdulRazaq founded the first Private Secondary School in Kwara State, the Ilorin College, Ilorin (ICI) now Government High School Ilorin.

Titles Acquired And Additional Notable Positions Held

In gratitude for his service and dedication, he was conferred with so many national and traditional titles. Some of these titles are; Tafidan Zazzau (Tafidan Zaria), Mutawali of Ilorin, Grande Officer De La Ordre National De Cote D’Ivoire and Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

In the course of his public services and other legal practices, AbdulRazaq held various notable positions, some of which include;

1. Legal adviser to the Nigerian Peoples Congress (NPC), Delegation to the Nigerian Constitution Conference, London,1957
2. Member, of the Nigeria Delegation to International Conference on Problems of Federal constitution, Lagos, 1959.
3. Legal Adviser to Northern Peoples Congress NPC, Delegation to the Nigeria constitutional conference-London and Lagos 1960.
4. Member of Drafting Committee of Nigeria Independence Constitution 1960.
5. Legal advisers to members of Northern Delegation and Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference, 1967.
6. Chairman of Committee on Executive and Legislature of Constitution Drafting Committee 1977.
7. Member of Constituent Assembly 1978.
8. Member, Small Business Commission of Northern Nigeria 1960.
9. Member, Nigerian Delegation to International Commission of Jurists, Lagos 1960
10. Chairman, Daily Mail, a Nigerian national newspaper published in Kano from 1960-1962.
11. Member, (Representing Nigeria) of the OAU reconciliation Committee of Algeria/Morocco 1963
12. Member of parliament (Northern Region House of Assembly).
13. Nigerian Ambassador to Ivory Coast (1962-1964).
14. Federal cabinet Minister Of State for Railways (1965-1966).
15. Nigerian Delegate to 23rd UNO General Assembly New York, the USA in 1968.
16. Kwara State Commissioners for Finance, Health And Social Welfare (1967-1972).
17. Member of the Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Since 1967.
18. Member of the panel on Nigeria National Productivity Merit Award 1991.
19. Member of Bauchi Disturbances Judicial Commission of Inquiry 1991.
20. Member of Privileges Committee of the Nigeria Bar (Supreme Court of Nigeria)
21. Vice President, Nigerian Stock Exchange (1983-2000).
22. Member of Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar since 1955.
23. President Nigerian stock Exchange (2000-2003)

Marriage, Family And Death

AGF AbdulRazaq died on 25th July 2020 at the age of 93 and was survived by a 90-year old wife Alhaja Raliat Amope AbdulRazaq. Their marriage is blessed with successful prominent children, and they include Dr. Alimi Abdulrazaq, a legal luminary and Chairman of Bridge School House, Lagos; Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the incumbent Governor of Kwara State, Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe, a former Senator representing the FCT, Mallam Isiaka Abdulrazaq, a distinguished technocrat; Mrs. Ayi Lawal, a stockbroker and a businesswoman and Alhaji Baba Abdulrazaq, onetime local government chairman in Kwara State.

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