It was learned that yesterday’s death of the prominent Islamic Cleric and senior legal practitioner, Dr. Abdulateef Adegbite, may have been a consequence of unexpected interruptions to his routine medical checkups, a key one of which arose from a new Canadian policy under which he was denied a visa to travel to that country two months ago.
Although family sources say they do not want to trade blames over the cause of the late cleric’s death, some medical accounts show that his health grew critical after he was denied an important travel opportunity by the Canadian High Commission. At the time, his health grew so bad that rumors began to fly that he had died, but they were dispelled by his wife, Hajiya Modinat Adegbite, who told Saharareporters that Alhaji Adegbite was only ill at home but was still alive.
The Canadian High Commission reportedly denied all visa applications, citing new a directive to thoroughly screen applicants regardless of their status.
That development affected Dr. Adegbite’s plan for treatment in Canada, and may have contributed to the deterioration of his health for close to two months before he was eventually flown to London for the treatment he needed. Alhaji Adegbite, 79, was battling symptoms of old age and had been taking care of himself through such trips until his experience with the Canadian High Commission two months ago.
The Secretary to the Late Chief Adegbite at his Law Chambers in Lagos, partly identified as Mr. Yusuf, said all efforts were made to ensure Dr. Abdulateef’s record and status were immediately verified to enable him proceed to Canada when his health grew worse, but that the High Commission did not yield.
“His friends and associates tried all that they could to enable him clear the visa for his treatment in Canada, but all proved abortive” said Mr. Yusuf.
He further described the circumstances in which Dr. Adegbite’s children finally made the decision to fly him to London for his treatment, noting that in the one and half months that his family was actively trying to obtain the Canadian visa and his being taken to London, Dr. Adegbite was receiving medical attention at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital [LUTH].
A member of his legal chambers in Lagos said before Dr. Adegbite’s July attempt to fly into Canada, he had been visiting that country twice a year, one for his sabbatical rest and the other for medical treatment. Dr. Adegbite’s last return from Canada was on 18th March, 2012 and he celebrated his 79th birthday one week later, on 26th March, 2012.
One of the cleric’s more memorable recent activities was his well-publicised advice to the United States to exercise caution in designating the violent Islamic sect in Nigeria, Boko Haram, a terrorist group.
Dr. Adegbite clarified his position later in an interview with Citizen Journalist, Segun O’Law in Lagos, saying that he wanted the United States Government to give the Nigerian government more time to deal effectively with the militants, and that the government was already making progress. He warned that a precipitous decision might result in Nigerians being stereotyped abroad as members of the sect. O’Law said he observed at the time that Alhaji Adegbite was struggling with his health during the interview.
A former Attorney General of Western Nigeria, Dr. Adegbite was Seriki Musulumi and Baba Adinni of Egbaland. He helped found many Islamic societies and associations, including the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) in 1954, and was the first President of the Association. He was also a member of several national, international, professional and business organisations.
Until his death, was the Secretary General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. He was also the Principal Partner of Lateef Adegbite and Company, a law firm with major focus on Commercial Law Practice.
Late Adegbite is survived by his wife, Hajiyat Modinat Simisola Adegbite, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was buried today at his family home in Abeokuta, Ogun State, according to Islamic rites.