Let me start with a disclaimer: I did not attend Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly known as the University of Ife), Ile -Ife, as a student. However, the influence of eminent legal scholars in Nigeria is not limited to the institutions where they are based. Their messages are sounded far and wide beyond their local environment. Their former students as teachers propagate their ideals and ideas. Through their books, other publications and other academic engagements they make profound impacts on students and others with whom they have no direct physical contact.
Professor David Adedayo Ijalaye could be said to have lived and died in Ile-Ife though it is doubtful if he ever changed his domicile from that of Ondo State, as he hailed from Owo, to that of Osun State. He served his native community of Owo including as a member of Local Government Council in the late1970s.
As one of the “ancients” among the teachers of law at the University of Ife, Prof Ijalaye’s academic teaching career began from the city of Ibadan, the first location of the University of Ife at what is now known as The Polytechnic, Ibadan. It is a fact that early Ife Law Students began and completed their LL.B programme in Ibadan. Prof Ijalaye was one of their teachers.
As a distinguished Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Prof Ijalaye had assisted the University of Ibadan in validating the academic credentials of some UI academics from disciplines cognate to law but when UI sought his assistance in 1983 to help build its Department of Law on the foundation laid by Professor M. I. Jegede SAN, Professor Ijalaye politely declined. It was understandable. Prof. Ijalaye had served as the Dean of Law at Unife from 1974 to 1978 and as Deputy Vice Chancellor from 1978 to 1980. He was content serving the University of Ibadan as a Visiting Professor from 1983 to 1984. The University of Ibadan looked inward and got Professor Folarin Shyllon to take up this onerous task. If Prof Ijalaye had accepted this responsibility, his appointment as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State in 1984 could have truncated his service.
The Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch, instituted the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lectures in honour of its past Chairman, Prince Owolabi Afuye, who died in active service to the Bar in 1987. In my capacity as Secretary of NBA Ibadan Branch, it was my responsibility to organise the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture in 2003. The relevant committee discussed and resolved to approach Professor David Ijalaye. He gladly accepted to deliver the Owolabi Afuye Memorial Lecture for 2003. The learned Professor did not insist on the physical presence of NBA Ibadan Branch officials to discuss with him at Ile-Ife. Members of NBA Ibadan Branch who were also lecturers at OAU rose to the occasion and they did the necessary spade work. The choice of Prof David Ijalaye was a perfect one. Prince Owolabi Afuye was the immediate predecessor of Prof Ijalaye as Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State. Prince Owolabi Afuye was Attorney-General from October to December 1983 whilst Prof Ijalaye was the Attorney-General from 1984 to 1987. Both of them attended Imade College, Owo. The lecture held at the Auditorium of the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. Prof Ijalaye spoke on “The Nigerian Law of Rape in the context of Global Development”. Some changes have taken place in this area of law since he gave this lecture. The lecture is published in 2014 Ibadan Bar Journal Vol. 3 No. 1 pp.1-13. In 2004, Professor Ijalaye’s article on “The Arrest and Detention in Prison of Chief Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, Governor of Bayelsa State in the Context of Sovereign Immunity” was also published in Ibadan Bar Journal 2005 Vol 4 No. 2, pp. 117-121.
The Lead City University, Ibadan, is privileged to host the first Faculty of Law in a private university in Ibadan. The University also invited Prof Ijalaye to give a Distinguished Personality Lecture at its prestigious Adeline Hall after it moved to its permanent site. I didn’t need any special invitation to honour one of the Masters of the profession. It is a rare privilege to drink from their deep well of wisdom. Masters command such respect and they are deserving of such honour.
It is interesting that Professor Ijalaye interacted with all the established Faculties of Law in the City of Ibadan, the former and the present. He also intellectually stimulated the Bar. This explains the significance of looking at his Ibadan Connection.
One story I heard from Prof Ijalaye at one of his lectures which highlights the tension between statute law and entrenched customary practice concerns burial. The story exemplifies the difficulties in enforcing a law that is at variance with the culture and tradition of the native community. The erudite teacher of Jurisprudence said when his mother died she was buried in her bedroom according to her instructions consistent with a practice not uncommon in some Yoruba communities. Prof Ijalaye was the Hon. Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice of Ondo State at the material time. The Military Governor of Ondo State attended the burial programme to honour his Attorney-General. Prof Ijalaye then asked: Who would enforce the law that prohibited burial inside the house when the Attorney-General, the chief law officer, was the Chief mourner and the Governor by his presence and participation invariably supervised the exercise?
Professor David Adedayo Ijalaye SAN clearly left his footprints in the sands of time. He was in his lifetime the face of Ife Law. He was an astute University Administrator and academic leader who nurtured the Faculty of Law, OAU, Ile Ife, as a lecturer, Professor, Dean of Law, father figure, Emeritus Professor, to its enviable heights through his impactful research, articulate teaching, outstanding mentoring and unparalleled commitment to his students and junior colleagues.
Adieu Prof David Adedayo Ijalaye SAN.