Early in my career as a young attorney, I had a sweet encounter with Mallam Adamu Ciroma, then Dallatun Fika. The sweet and unique encounter lingered in my memory for almost 3 decades after. I was cutting my teeth under the tutelage of the trio of Late Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Late Dr. Hamed Kusamotu and Chief Tunde Olojo, via Shinkafi, Kusamotu, Olojo & Co.
It was in a libel matter which was instituted by the firm on behalf of Late Mallam Adamu Ciroma, against The Nigeria Tribune. The Tribune misreported the evidence of the late strong man of Kwara (Dr. Olusola Saraki) in the celebrated case of Saraki vs Kotoye.
It was reported that Dr. Olusola Saraki gave shares to Mallam Adamu Ciroma to secure the banking licence of Societe Generale Bank. This was contrary to the evidence on record. Mallam was peeved, hence the Suit. Initially, I was wondering what the issue was but when he explained the ethical issue involved as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), my respect for him soared. He lived and breathed integrity. He displayed patience and was always ready to go by the rules. After the victory in the trial Court and the Tribune’s appeal was becoming prolonged, he was always showing understanding for the process until the appeal was disposed of and he won. It was before Justice Yahya (J.C.A.) then at the High Court of Kaduna State.
Each time I went for the case, I would go to the Mallam’s house on Reeve Road where he would always give me dinner. Before the dinner, we would both go to Bello Mosque very close to his house to observe Magrib prayer and we would both stay in the mosque till after Ishai. It was from him I learnt the culture of staying over between Magrib and Ishai prayers.
I noticed his deep connection with the Almighty without any display or airs. He was always modest and very polite. I was just about 30 years old, yet Mallam would sit with me in the car and drop me at my hotel on wharf Road. Despite my very young age, he never doubted my ability and he often told me that greater achievements are often recorded by the younger ones. He encouraged me and I gained a lot of confidence from my interaction with him.
On one of my visits, and after the court proceedings, he sought to know if I was interested in accompanying him to Potiskum. I answered in the affirmative and pronto, I joined him on the very informative and educative ride to Potiskum from Kaduna.
He spoke about life generally and his views of Nigeria and I am convinced that had he been privileged to rule Nigeria, perhaps the situation would be different today. He was deep and very sound with a huge sense of justice. I often recall one of his great sayings during the third term debate to wit: if they extend their tenure, can they extend their life span?
This saying remains a food for thought for both the proponents and opponents of the alleged 3rd term agenda and indeed a food for thought for all of us. The great Patriot studied in the University of Ibadan where he distinguished himself. He married a Yoruba lady of Egba extraction which clearly shows that he was a detribalized Nigerian in the mould of Gen. Obasanjo, Gen. Babangida, Late Umaru Shinkafi and a few others.
His politics was based on conviction and not mere passing convenience. He refused to be blackmailed into joining a sectional agenda when he was in the PDP. When some folks decided to be less honourable in handling the affairs of PDP, Mallam quietly and honourably withdrew and he stayed at the background.
While only God has no one to compare with Him, the type of Mallam Ciroma is rare to come by nowadays. His passage is a major blow to the human race. The Nigerian nation has lost a huge moral barometer and an astute Statesman who will be missed dearly.
May the Almighty Allah repose his gentle soul and reward him with Aljanna firdaousi.
–Raji, SAN, wrote from Abuja
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