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James Ajibola Ige
Commissioner for Agriculture
In office
January 3, 1967 – December 23, 1970
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Unknown
Governor of Oyo State
In office
Lieutenant Sunday Afolabi
Preceded by Paul C. Tarfa
Succeeded by Victor Olunloyo
Minister of Power and Steel
In office
May 29, 1999 – 2000
Preceded by Bashir Dalhatu
Succeeded by Lyel Imoke
Minister of Justice
In office
January 3, 2000 – December 23, 2001
Preceded by Kanu Godwin Agabi
Succeeded by Bayo Ojo
Personal details
Born (1930-09-13)September 13, 1930
Zaria, Kaduna.
Died December 23, 2001(2001-12-23) (aged 71)
Nationality Nigerian
Political party Action Group (Nigeria), Unity Party of Nigeria, Alliance for Democracy
Spouse(s) Atinuke Ige
Alma mater Ibadan Grammar school, University of Ibadan, University College London
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Christian Anglican

James Ajibola Idowu Ige (September 13, 1930 - December 23, 2001) simply known as Bola Ige was a Nigerian lawyer and politician. He became Federal Minister of Justice for Nigeria. He was murdered in December 2001.[1]


James Ajibola Idowu Ige was born in Zaria, near Kaduna in northern Nigeria on September 13, 1930. His parents were Yoruba natives of Esa-Oke village, in the old Oyo State (now in Osun State). Bola Ige left Kaduna and headed south to the Western region at the age of 14. He studied at Ibadan Grammar School (1943–48), and then at the University of Ibadan. From there, he went to the University College London where he graduated with a Law degree in 1959. He was called to the bar in London's Inner Temple in 1961.[2]

Bola Ige established Bola Ige & Co in 1961, and later became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.[3] He became well known in the country for his oratory prowess, as well as his advocacy work on civil rights and democracy. Uncommonly, Bola Ige spoke all the three major Nigerian languages, Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa fluently.[4] He wrote several books, and an anthology of articles and tributes about him was published shortly after his death.

Early political career

During the First Republic (1963-1966), at age 31 he was at the center of the Action Group crisis, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was pitted against his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola.[5] He became a rival of Olusola Olaosebikan for succession to Obafemi Awolowo.[6] Bola Ige was a Commissioner for Agriculture in the now-defunct Western Region of Nigeria (1967-1970) under the military government of General Yakubu Gowon. In 1967 he became a friend of Olusegun Obasanjo, who was a commander of the army brigade in Ibadan.[5]

In the early 1970s, during the first period of military rule, he devoted his time to the anti-racism campaign of the World Council of Churches.[2]

Towards the end of the 1970s he joined the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the successor to the Action Group.[2] When General Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the Second Republic, he was elected as governor of Oyo State from October 1979 to October 1983.[3] Adebisi Akande, later to be governor of Osun State after it was split off from Oyo State, was his deputy governor during this period.[7] In the 1983 elections, when he ran for reelection as the UPN candidate, he was defeated by Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo. Ige unsuccessfully challenged the election in court. However, Olunloyo lost the seat three months later to a coup staged by Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon.[4]

Ige Bola was detained after the coup, accused of enriching party funds. He was released in 1985, after the next coup, by Ibrahim Babangida, and returned to his legal practice and to writing. In 1990, he published People, Politics And Politicians Of Nigeria: 1940-1979, a book that he had begun while imprisoned. He was a founder member of the influential Yoruba pressure group, Afenifere. Although critical of the military rule of General Sani Abacha, Bola Ige avoided political difficulties during this period.[2]

Third republic

Following the restoration of democracy in 1999, Bola Ige sought the nomination of the Alliance for Democracy party as a presidential candidate, but was rejected. President Obasanjo appointed Bola Ige as minister of Mines and Power (1999-2000).[8] He was not able to make significant improvements to service provided by the monopoly National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).[9]

He then became Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2000-2001).[3] In September 2001 Bola Ige said that the Federal government had initiated a program to re-arrange and consolidate the laws of the Federation, publish them in digital form, and make them available on the website of his ministry.[10] He campaigned ardently against the imposition of the Saria Law in the Northern States of Nigeria.[1] In November 2001 he said that the Federal government would not allow the Sokoto State government to execute the judgement of a verdict passed by a Gwadabawa sharia court to stone a woman, Safiya Hussaini to death for committing adultery.[11]

Bola Ige was about to take up a new position as African's Representative on the United Nations International Law Commission when he was gunned down in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.


On 23 December 2001, Bola Ige was shot dead at his home in the south-western city of Ibadan. He had been entangled in squabbles within his Alliance for Democracy party in Osun State. The previous week, the long-running feud between Osun state Governor Bisi Akande and his deputy, Iyiola Omisore, had apparently contributed to the death of an Osun State legislator, Odunayo Olagbaju.[1] The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo deployed troops in south-western Nigeria to try to prevent a violent reaction to the murder.[12] Although various people were arrested and tried for involvement in the murder, including Iyiola Omisore, all were acquitted.[13] As of November 2010 the killers had not been found.[14]

In a speech at his funeral, he was quoted as saying that he was sure that Nigeria was worth living for but he was not so sure that it was worth dying for.[15]


  • Ige, Bola. Golden quotes : a selection of my favourite inspirational quotations. Ibadan : Pocket Gifts ; Oxford : African Books Collective [distributor], c2000. x, 163 p. ; 19 cm. ISBN 978-129-496-5
  • Ige, Bola. Detainee’s diary Ibadan : NPS Educational, 1992. 262 p. ; 23 cm. ISBN 978-2556-45-9
  • Ige, Bola (1995). People, Politics And Politicians Of Nigeria: 1940-1979. Heinemann Educational Books. ISBN 978-129-496-5.
  • Ige, Bola. Constitutions and the problem of Nigeria Lagos : Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 1995. 36 p. ; 21 cm. ISBN 978-2353-43-4
  • Bola Ige (1991). Kaduna boy. NPS Educational. ISBN 978-2556-35-1.

External links

  • Banjo, Ayo (Ed.) Bola Ige: Passage of a Modern Cicero. An anthology of views, reviews and tributes, dedicated to the Nigerian politician assassinated in 2001. B/w illus, 215pp, NIGERIA. BOOKCRAFT LTD, ISBN 978-2030-49-X, 2003 Paperback
  • Ladigbolu, A. G. A., prince. The success of Bola Ige administration in the old Oyo State of Nigeria . [Nigeria] : Lichfield Printing Co., [2003] vii, 160 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. ISBN 978-30498-2-8


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Troops deployed in Nigeria". BBC News. 24 December 2001. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kaye Whiteman (1 January 2002). "Bola Ige - Dedicated lawyer building bridges in Nigerian politics". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "About the Law Firm". Bola Ige & Co. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  4. 4.0 4.1 FEMI ADEOTI (October 23, 2009). "Olunloyo on 1983 Oyo guber". The Sun. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Bola Ige". OnlineNigeria. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  6. Alhaji Lateef Jakande (July 27, 2009). "My Rivalry With Bola Ige". The News. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  7. "Emergency Declared in Nigeria After Killing of Justice Minister". New York Times. December 25, 2001. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  8. Duro Onabule (June 5, 2009). "Any favour for Sanusi as Gov of Central Bank?". Daily Sun. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  9. Jim I Akhere. "Power Sector Reform in Nigeria: Plans, Progress and Challenges" (PDF). Nigeria Peoples Forum - USA. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  10. "GOVERNMENT TO REALIGN FEDERATION LAWS" (PDF). United Nations Public Administration Network. 14 September 2001. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  11. Yakubu Musa, Kano And Isah Ibrahim Maru (November 18, 2001). "FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, SOKOTO FIGHT OVER WOMAN'S DEATH SENTENCE". This Day. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  12. Alex Duval Smith (26 December 2001). "Nigerian troops deploy after minister's murder". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  13. "2003 County Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria". U.S. Department of State. February 28, 2005. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  14. Iyabo Lawal (September 14, 2009). "Family, friends remember Bola Ige". Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-07.[dead link]
  15. Sola Odunfa (2 July 2004). "Is Nigeria worth dying for?". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-11-07.

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