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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Aliyu Umar SAN: A Great Legal ICON – By Bello Muhammad Sharada



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Friday is one of the blessed days of Muslim faithful. Few hours to the call of dawn prayers of Friday at exactly four on 17 April, Barrister Aliyu Umar SAN gave up the ghost, after a protracted lung cancer.

Aliyu Umar is four in one. He was kind hearted, legal expert, Islamic and political activist.

Aliyu Umar, hailed from Kwalli of Kankarofi ward of Kano Municipal. Until his death he was living at Tarauni, and  he bears Fagge as his political base, but his religious activities and generosity have no bounds.

He was born June 19, 1952. Aliyu Umar had his primary school at both Kuka and Kwalli between 1961 and  1967.He attended famous SAS from 1968-1972. Later he read law at Ahmad Bello University and graduated in 1977. He proceeded to Law School Lagos and called to the bar in 1977/1978.He was at Seattle in Washington and institute of advanced legal studies in Lagos to further his legal knowledge.

After his studies, he joined LEA Kano as a school teacher and later as headmaster. He joined Kano Ministry of Justice as state counsel, Senior state counsel, Chairman rent tribunal and Principal State Counsel and later Director Public Prosecution. He served Kano diligently, fairly and with human face up to the level when he retired as Director Public Prosecution, DPP.

Umar  was appointed Special Adviser in legal matters to Kano state governor in 1983. He was one time  NBA Kano chapter chairman. He was junior partner at B.M Dalhatu and Co and later he established A.A. Umar SAN & Co as principal partner to pursue his private legal practice, until his demise

I first came in contact with Barrister Aliyu Umar as a politician twenty four years ago. Then, he contested Kano Central Senatorial district under one of defunct Abacha five parties, the DPN. At that time we went along with others to give our voluntary support to his candidature as we learnt about his religious disposition and capacity to represent us well. He lost the ticket to Hajiya Najaatu Muhammad. Hajiya defeated both Ahmed Usman former deputy governor to Senator Kabiru Gaya and late Aliyu Umar SAN in the primaries.

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In terms of party politics, Aliyu Umar  was once a state legal Adviser to DPN, APP and PSP. In 2003, at the eve of elections,  Senator  Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, The Sardauna of Kano bring Aliyu Umar into the ANPP fold. After wining election, he was appointed commissioner of justice and attorney general in Kano.

Those who know Aliyu Umar attested to his simplicity. His generosity. His tolerance. His humbleness. His straightforward ness. His cracks of jokes. He was one lawyer that you took your case to him, to defend you, but at the end of it, shoulder your case, take your responsibility and fight your cause. He only received genuine cases. He pursue that only is right in his estimation. He never defend fraud and criminality.

Judges in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos testified him as a single most punctual lawyer, who was always ready for court businesses and shun frivolous and unnecessary adjournments. He act based on the  dictates and rules of the game. It pains him greatly if laws or processes are circumvented.

Even though he is legal practitioner and partisan politician, he was equally religious man. He build mosques and madrassas, he supported anything Islamic with his livelihood. From 2000-2011 Late Aliyu Umar participated fully in anything related to  Islamic Sharia in Northern Nigeria. Any Islamic organization that seek his legal assistance, they got it free.

His star shine more when Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, as Kano state governor, assigned him justice portfolio in his cabinet. He was appointed and allowed freely to work in the best interest of Kano. One third of the success of Shekarau administration can be ascribed to Aliyu Umar. He performed diligently with industry and complete observance of  due process. In the whole modern Kano history, there was no government that adhere to rules of law than that of Shekarau courtesy of Aliyu Umar. Judges, counsels, private lawyers don’t connived with government in his time.

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During his stay as Justice commissioner in Kano, he work steadfastly and straight forward. Aliyu Umar is a very close Shekarau friend but never allowed sentiment to override his sense of judgement.  Two perfect examples, worth mention here are. Immediately when a judgement by state High Court  was given in favor of suspended Ungoggo LG chairman in the afternoon, when the court  papers reaches Shekarau via Aliyu Umar, instantly he instructed his reinstatement. The case is not in favor of state government. Similarly, Muhyi Magaji Rimin Gado, then as vice chairman of Rimin Gado LG institutes a case against the state, he eventually win the case.

Lawyers, men and women in the silk  will remember him as exemplary and down to earth practical legal icon. He was responsible in defending Hisba corps formation. He was successful up to supreme court at every stage in the proceedings. He saved Kano from scammers in the fertilizer deal of 2004. He was instrumental in securing compensation of $75m from Pfizer when they came for the trial of Trovan vaccines using meningitis victims in Kano Infectious Diseases Hospital. His Pfizer efforts led committee of privileges to award him the prestigious SAN in 2013.

He build  a strong system of reward and promotion in the government legal circle. He assisted lawyers to improve their capacity through training and re-training at local and international arena. He improved the salaries and allowances of those in the legal practice. Aliyu Umar died when Kano was is total lock down because of Covid19 pandemic, which cut mass number of willing sympathizers to participate in the Janaza. He died a statesman and hero.

Bello Muhammad Sharada, write from Kano and can be reached via bellosharada@gmail.com or his Twitter handle: @goggo4347 BelloSharada

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