By Salihu Woru Mohammad
Monday 11th November, 2019 yet marks another milestone in the history
and people of Ilorin Emirate and indeed Kwara State in general. It
will be the occasion of the celebration of the 24th year anniversary
of His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari (CFR), the Emir of
Ilorin on the throne of his forefathers.
His Royal Highness, Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari (CFR) was born
into the highly esteemed royal family of Ilorin on the 22nd April,
1940. He is of double and noble parentage because his father of
blessed memory was a Prince while his mother was also a Princess of
the same ancestor-Sheikh Alimi, they are descendants of the same
grandfather. His father, an ardent believer in Islamic and Western
education put him under a renowned Islamic scholar in Ilorin, the late
Mallam Salami, popularly called Audu Imole for Qur’anic education in
1945. The young Ibrahim showed his fast learning ability as early as
his childhood days. He started his primary education at the United
Primary School, Ilorin in 1947 and completed same at Omu-Aran Native
Authority School, Kwara Stae.
He gained admission to Government Secondary School, Zaria now Barewa
College, Zaria and Offa Grammar School, Offa in 1957; His thoughtful
and resourceful father decided that he should go to Offa Grammar
School despite the attractive situations in Government College, Zarai.
Such conditions included free tuition, transport, feeding school
uniforms, textbooks, notebooks and of course hardworking teachers of
At the end of his fourth year at Offa Grammar School in 1960, his
father sent him to a school in Qakham in the country of Rutland,
England to further his education. At Qakham, young Ibrahim was faced
with daunting environment. The weather was unfriendly; he was the
only black student not only in his class but also in the school. He
was a subject of ridicule, jest and harassment by the white students
who were curious to understand a person individually engaged in
assailing young black Ibrahim with their scathing tantrums. It
required a person with uncommon endurance, tolerance and patience to
cope with these hostile experiences. Prince Ibrahim did, he did so
with splendor. The sense of maturity displayed by him at such a
tender age and in the face of such frustrations was highly
commendable. It is noteworthy that Prince Ibrahim Sulu Gambari
demonstrated these sterling qualities both at the bar and the bench
creditably later in life. He was an epitome of serenity at the bench.
Prince Ibrahim Sulu Gambari got to Qakham in the country of Rutland,
England in 1960 and passed GCE ‘O’ Level in 1961. He enrolled for GCE
Advance level in 1962 at West Minister College, Victoria England (now
a College University of London) and passed out with flying colours in
1963, and thus qualified him for admission to study law. He faced his
studies squarely and had no time for irresponsible activities.
With the dint of hard work and resolute determination, Prince Ibrahim
Sulu Gambari made the LL.B Degree on 2nd Class Lower Division in 1966.
Prince Ibrahim Sulu Gambari was not satisfied with the first degree in
law. He engaged in serious studies and passed the Master of Law
Degree (LL>M) of the Kings’ College, London in 1967. In the same
year, he passed the B.L. (Barrister at Law) at the Hon. Society of the
Middle Temple, London – the professional qualification in law. This
was a great feat. By the time he had the LL.M. and B. L. in the
United Kingdom, his classmates in Nigeria were just finishing the
Another noteworthy feat in academic performance of the Prince Ibrahim
Sulu Gambari was when he enrolled late (about 3 months late) at the
Nigeria Law School for 1967-1968 sessions and still passed the
Having equipped him adequately for legal practice, Prince Ibrahim Sulu
Gambari served his pupilage at the Chambers of the legal luminary,
legal colossus, legal advocacy personified, Queen’s Counsel; (Q.C),
Chief H. D. Davies of blessed memory. Barrister Ibrahim Gambari made
his mark promptly, his proficiency in legal practice was marvelous.
He was accordingly elevated and assigned to handle litigations of
different. Prince Ibrahim Sulu Gambari was not satisfied with the
first degree in law. He engaged in serious studies and categories in
court. Because of his ability and thoroughness in legal matters, the
principal partner asked Barrister Ibrahim to represent him on complex
legal matters in courts.
In dire quest for public service experience, Barrister Gambari joined
the then North Eastern State of Nigeria as a State Counsel in 1969, by
dint of hard work; he made progress in his career. By January, 1975,
he became Principal State Counsel, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor
General of the newly created Gongola State. On the 1st January, 1977,
he was appointed as Acting Judge of the High Courts of Bauchi, Borno
and Gongola States to work as a Judge of High Court in three states
that are hundreds of kilometers away was tasking. The work was
enormous as the responsibilities were prodigious. Barrister Sulu
Gambari shuttled between these states even at odd hours to ensure that
court proceedings were held as at when due. Rough roads and bad
weather did not deter Prince Ibrahim Sulu Gambari in accomplishing all
set goals. It is only a man with proven ability and sense of duty
that could be entrusted with such high level of responsibility.
As far back as 1973, Barrister Ibrahim Sulu Gambari has been appearing
at the Supreme Court or cases involving North Easter States of
Nigeria. In celebrated criminal cases, the then Chief Justice of
Nigeria, Sir Alexander, and presiding Justice remarked in his judgment
on the 15th March.
The learned Solicitor General under reference was Barrister Prince
Ibrahim Sulu Gambari whose high level of advocacy was acknowledged by
the then Chief Justice of Nigeria. On June 8th 1978, he was appointed
a substantive Judge of High Court of Borno State.
His enviable track records as a substantive Judge earned him at 43
years the appointment as Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan
Division on the 2nd January, 1983. He served in this capacity
meritoriously for eight years. By July, 1991, he was appointed as
Presiding Justice of Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal. He held
the post creditably up till his appointment as the 11th Emir of Ilorin
on 18th August, 1995. The coronation ceremony took place on the 11th
November, of the same year. He was much earlier appointed the Ciroma
of Ilorin on the 30th November, 1984.
His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR ascended
the throne of his forefathers fully matured to cope with the
responsibility of the exalted stool. His Royal Highness has
distinguished himself in various aspects of human endeavours and has
been duly recognized by all and sundry. He is the Chairman Kwara
State Council of Chiefs by virtue of being the Emir of Ilorin.
He was conferred with the National Award of Commander of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria (CFR) in the year 2000. He was appointed the
Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State in
2001. He was honoured with Doctorate Degree of Law, Honoris Causa of
the same University on the 1st July, 2002. Ilorin Branch of Offa
Grammar School Old Students Association appointed him as the Grand
Royal Father of the Association – his Alma Mata in 2008. On the 9th
May, 2015, he was conferred with the title of Grand patron of the
Association by the National Body of Offa.
His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari was the head of the
Planning of Implementation Committee that handled the Sokoto Caliphate
Centenary Celebration. He was the Protem Chairman of Arewa
Consultative Forum before the elected Chairman, Alhaji M. D. Yusuf of
blessed memory, took over, may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
His Royal Highness contributed immensely at the National Confab in
Our Royal father still plays Lawn Tennis at his palace because of his
belief in Roman adage: “Menasana in Copora Sana” that is, in a sound
body there is a sound mind.
His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR was
reposted from Nnamdi Azikwe University Awka, Anambra State to
University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State as its Chancellor with
effect from 5th May, 2015.
My good people of Ilorin Emirate, it is pertinent to remind ourselves
that the curtain came down on the Roman Empire, the Mughai Empire
Crumbled in 1858, the Mongol empire crashed in 1368; the Russian
Empire followed a similar shameful way in 1917. The list is not
farfetched as citizens of those empires mounted the rostrum of
individualism and selfish interest rather than collective goals and
ambitions. The Ilorin Emirate cannot be allowed to journey this same
Our pride in Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State generally is “Harmony”,
that is, peace plus unity and progress, devoid of rancour, chaos,
crisis and disjointedness. It is feared that if the unity, consciously
entrenched and engraved by our forefathers in the Emirate is lost to
political sentiment, it may spell doom for the present and future of
the Emirate. In order words, the gains of unity would be a better
option than the pains of disunity and disintegration.
Our forefathers, Alfa Alimi, the successive Emirs of Ilorin Emirate,
the religious leaders and Ulamas labored to build what we now pride as
the Emirate legacy of speaking with one voice which has been the
source of our power in the country.
Long Life the Legendary Emir of our Time.
Alh. (Dr) Salihu Woru Mohammad, is the Magaji Nda of Ilorin, writes from Ilorin.