Abdul Mumini Ishola Hanafi, SAN is the Managing Partner of Hanafi & Associates, Abuja, a member of the Board of Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Secretary General of Games Village, Residents Association and Islamic Foundation Abuja, and a remarkable patriot of Ilorin Emirate in Kwara State, Nigeria. Hanafi is a seasoned legal practitioner and a property development specialist. He combines legal expertise with innovative thinking in his career.
He hails from the Sogbodile family in Ilorin and is the third alumnus of the famous Government High School, Ilorin, who would be admitted as a member of the prestigious Senior Advocates of Nigeria. The new Silk is a servant of Allah with a penchant for giving and striving to live in line with Hadith and Quranic injunctions.
In this chat, he explains his humble but inspiring beginning of his legal practice.
What was the beginning like?
The beginning started with my loving parents. My father, the late Alhaji Hannafi Ayinla Sogbodile was a personality that ensured all his children graduated from various universities. He was a peacemaker, community leader and arbitrator per excellence. Couples relied on his arbitration acumen on disputed matters. My father travelled widely in the country and was a successful planks merchant. May Allah forgive his shortcomings. He died at the age of ninety-five years. My mother, Alhaja Maimuna Hanafi, hails from Adara quarters in Ilorin; she is a pride to us, gentle in character and submissive to her husband. If I were to come to this world twenty times, I would still choose the same parents.
Did you have pleasant childhood schooling experiences?
Yes. In the typical Ilorin tradition, once a child stops bedwetting he or she is enrolled at an Islamiyyah school. The enrollment into the school was with one’s age grade. We saw it as an opportunity to hang out with our mates. We go to conventional schools in the morning and subsequently to Islamiyyah schools in the evening and on weekends. We played pranks as little kids. Chiefly whenever our father was not around, we sneaked to the houses of friends on an eating spree. We extended such pranks to my father’s wives (he was married to four women). I remember I ate in any of his wife’s homes freely. Similarly, I grew up like every other kid, playing football around the area, but all these were under strict Islamic culture. My father’s house was close to the homes of two great Islamic scholars, Sheikh Kamalud-Deen Al-Adabiy and Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory which made it easier to have Islamic knowledge. I started the conventional primary school at the age of five years at Alore Local School Management Board Primary school. I completed my Quranic recitation at the age of ten years. In 1980 I gained admission into Government High School Adeta, Ilorin. Alhaji A.J Abdulrazak, the father of the present Governor of Kwara state, established the school. To the glory of God, I was one of the outstanding students at the school. I posted uncommon results with seven A grades’ in my West Africa Examination Council examination.
Why Law as a Profession?
Allah decided that for me. Alhamdulillah. However, I owe one of my teachers for his guidance on it. He guided me rightly onto the path of the profession. After my exceptional performance at the secondary level, I went back to Islamiyyah school of Sheikh Kamalud-Deen, Zumuratul Adabiyyah School of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Okekere, Ilorin, with the view to continue and further my Islamic education, but because Allah has decreed, I am to be a lawyer, that teacher at the secondary school, saw me and inquired about my intention to further my education but, I had no immediate answers to give. He subsequently visited our house and told my father about the chances of combining Islamic education with Law education. He mentioned Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, as the best University for it and combined Honours in Civil & Islamic Laws as a course of study. Of course, the passion my father had for western education and being a discerning Muslim, he could not say no. He encouraged me, and the rest is history. I applied to Usmanu Danfodiyo University and was accepted. Glory be to Allah, the Disposer of all affairs.
How smooth is your road to the Silk Cadre?
Alhamdulillah. I thank Allah, my Creator, for His mercies for the attainment of the rank. It has been my life ambition. After I graduated from the university, I proceeded to the famous Nigerian law school in Lagos, where I graduated with a second-class upper degree. I did the National Youth Service in Ogun state at the Legal Aid department of the Ministry of Justice Ogun state. Because of the desire to excel in the profession, I berth in Lagos, at the office of J.I.O Ojeleke & Co, on Lagos Island, opposite the famous Dabiri family house. Afterwards, I joined the prestigious law office of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore SOOB, an offshoot of FRA Williams law firm. It was in this firm the inspiration to become a member of the Silk cadre fired up in me. One of the Principal partners, Lawyer Shotunde SAN, became my role model. He is an embodiment of inspiration. As a young colleague, I assisted him severally at the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Lagos. His brilliance and agility in handling cases at the Supreme Court prepared me adequately for the path to the Silk. And when the Supreme Court of Nigeria relocated to Abuja from Lagos, I moved to Abuja and with my brother, Barrister Aluko, floated the Hanafi & Akuko as a senior Partner from 1998 to 2006. In 2007, I established Hanafi & Associates. The array of litigation, advocacies, arbitrations and appearances at all levels of courts in Nigeria; prosecuting or defending cases paved the way. But certainly, it was not a smooth ride. I achieved it through the grace of Allah, hard work and determination. Also, my Islammiyyah education became helpful at every turn of the curves and lanes towards the feat. Alhamdulillahi rabbil Alamin.
Who influences you the most in your career?
Sheikh (Dr) Muhammad Ibn Habibullah, Ibn Musa, popularly addressed as Sheikh Kamalud-Deen Al-Adabiy. His style of profound preaching, explanatory sermons and Islamic songs, while explaining the words of Allah greatly influences my Law practice and conduct. His songs were with profound wisdom and made a lasting impression on my mind. The Islamic renditions were in Arabic but the interpretation is thus: “While a strong man, who is, with uncommon abilities including business acumen, finds his means of livelihood and sustenance/living standards extremely difficult, a dullard, unintelligent and physically challenged man will find his sustenance easier and steady. And in another, “Do good to people always, to enslave their minds towards goodness and honour you, because if you do well to people, they will always want to come near the good”. These two extracts from his numerous Islamic songs form the basis of my relationship with my clients, the mode of my practice and my relationships with people of the society as a whole. May Allah grant him peace in his grave and raise him as His beloved. Sheikh Kamalud-Deen was one of the erudite Islamic scholars who lived in modern times in Nigeria.
What is your Philosophy of Life?
Do not harm and do not revenge harm, try to overlook people’s faults be very tolerant, do not always insist on your rights, and allow people to cheat you.