Sadness and sorrow enveloped the Egba and Muslim communities yesterday, as the news of the death of the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA), Dr. Lateef Adegbite filtered to town.
Adegbite, an erudite constitutional lawyer who hails from Igbore in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, was said to have breathed his last yesterday evening in a Lagos hospital after battling with an undisclosed illness for few months back.
Before his death, Adegbite, a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the defunct Western State, was the Seriki and the Baba Adinni of Egbaland. Sources close to the family told Saturday Sun that Adegbite had been to London, Canada seeking medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, which eventually claimed his life. His death, ironically coincided with two other prominent sons of Egbaland, Chief Segun Taiwo, a kingmaker and Action Congress of Nigeria chieftain and the business mogul and renowned banker, Chief Oluwole Adeosun, who were both buried yesterday in Abeokuta, the state capital.
In a condolence statement released late yesterday and signed by his Senior Special Assistant media, Mrs. Funmi Wakama, Governor Amosun, described the late Seriki of Egbaland as one of the icons the state has produced for Nigeria. According to him, Adegbite, in his lifetime, shone like a star in the field of law and was well known across the world as the mouthpiece of Islam in Nigeria. He noted that the late Seriki was a man, who usually offered wise counsel to governments at federal and state levels.
The governor added that the demise of Adegbite is not just a loss to Ogun State but also to Nigeria as a whole. While praying that almighty Allah grants his soul Aljanah Fidaus, the governor commiserated with the Adegbite family, people of Egbaland, the Muslim community and Nigerians in general. “Baba Adegbite was a strong believer in one Nigeria and a motivator of youths who always preached tolerance and peace at all times,” he said. The National President of National Council of Muslim Youths Organisation (NACOMYO), Alhaji Kamaldeen Akintunde, described Adegbite as a distinguished Nigerian, promoter and defender of Islamic and champion of inter-religious harmony.
Similarly, former Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Sarafadeen Tunji Ishola described Adegbite’s death as a big blow to the Egba as a people as well as Ogun State and indeed Nigeria and the entire world. Sarafa, who is the Baba Adinni of Ogun State, said his death came too soon after the death of Sheikh Sodrudeen Bamidele Biobaku and added that the Muslim community would miss him greatly. “It is a sad news, but we pray to Allah to grant him Aljannat,” he said. Adegbite attended Methodist School, Abeokuta.
He also attended Arabic School, before proceeding to St. Paul’s Primary School in Igbore, Abeokuta in 1942, when he was aged nine. He obtained a scholarship to attend King’s College, Lagos, where he was co-founder and first national president of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, graduating in 1956. In 1959, the Western Region Premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo awarded him a scholarship to travel to England for a Law degree programme. While abroad, he attended the University of Southampton, graduating with a B.A. in Law in July 1962.
He thereafter studied at the College of Law for Solicitors, Lancaster Gate in London, and then at Gray’s Inn (1963–1965). Adegbite later won a Commonwealth scholarship for post-graduate studies in England. Adegbite was Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Matters in the old Western Region of Nigeria during the military administration of Brigadier Christopher Oluwole Rotimi. He was then appointed Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the Western Region in 1973.
In October 1976, he founded the legal firm of Lateef Adegbite & Co as the Principal Partner, with main office in Lagos and a branch office in Abeokuta, specialising in Commercial and Corporate Law. Adegbite was president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee from 1972 to 1985.
He was Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri from 1984 to 1990. He became a member of the Executive Committee of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was a Director of Industrial and General Insurance Plc.