OBITUARY: Lemu, respected judge and scholar who taught IBB and Abdulsalami

A lawyer. Judge. Teachers. Author. Mentor. The list goes on for Ahmed Lema, the famous priest who breathed his last for Thursday. His life was a purpose and a value, and this can be seen in the manner of honors that surfaced for the respected scholar. From President Muhammad Bukhari to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the governor, many have showered the deceased recalling some unique moments.

But for the rest of his life, Lem said he didn’t care what people remembered about him. “Every day I wake up to thank Allah and improve my relationship with Him. Everything people want to remember about me after death is their business. “I never do anything to be remembered for that,” he said in 2013 interview for the Daily Trust.

But after 91 long years on earth, many decades of those years spent in the legal and pedagogical service, Lem could not help but write his name and ideals in the corners of history.


Lema with her husband Aisha, who died in 2019

Lem’s father played a major role in shaping his life, especially in his search for knowledge. He did most of what he did to fulfill his father’s wishes.

“My father persuaded me to seek more and more knowledge not only about Islam and Arabic, but also about secular education. It was at this time that I began to feel that I wanted to become a true Muslim scholar so naturally, I began to feel happy that I was achieving my father’s goal. It will wake us up before the fire to learn the Qur’an and that practice at that tender age consciously or unconsciously puts you on a certain pattern of life, ”he said.

Asked how he had achieved a successful blend of Islamic and Western education, Lemu said, “It is Allah’s acceptance of my father’s request. My father was my teacher of the Qur’an. My father kept reminding me that all I needed was knowledge. I refused to forget what my father had told me about seeking knowledge even after his death on April 13, 1954. “


Lem with Saudi King Salman

Lemu’s father gave him the name Shehu Ahmad. He changed his name to Sheik, and the decision he later said embarrassed him.

“When I entered the Sharia Law School (now the School of Arab Studies) in Kano in 1949 and became a student of an intensive Arabic course, I discovered that the Sheikh was the Arab equivalent of Shehu. Because of my youthful exuberance, I felt that if Sheikh was the correct Arabic pronunciation of Shehu; why wouldn’t I change from using Shehu? And since then, I have started using Sheikh instead of Shehu, ”he said.

“But later I realized the shame I caused myself because of using the Sheikh. When I began contact with Arab scholars in 1969 after the formation of the Islamic Education Trust (IET), I was not comfortable presenting myself as a sheikh every time I met with these scholars at meetings and conferences; for the Sheikh of the Arabs is a title used for the learned or the aged, and I was neither.

“Lema became my last name when I went to primary school in 1939. In those colonial years of primary education, students who bore the same name in the same school or class were given the names of their towns or villages by their own names.”


Lemu became a teacher in the Bida Homeland Government in January 1953. The name of the school was later changed to the Provincial High School, Bida. Among the students who went through it at the school were Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) and Abdulsalami Abubakar, former heads of state.

In a 2013 interview, he described the duo as good students who adhered to school rules and regulations.

Lemu later left the judiciary, where he became a Sharia judge at the Sokota and Niger Appeals Court between 1976 and 1977, and later a chief Sharia judge at the Niger Appeals Court between 1976 and 1991.


In 2011, former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him chairman of a committee constituted to review post-election violence. At least 800 people were killed in the violence, according to Human Rights Watch.

Lem presenting the committee’s report to Jonathan

In an interview with Vanguard, Lemu said he feels pain because no board recommendation has been implemented.

“I was one of the prominent religious leaders who gathered to investigate the case of Nigeria’s membership in the Organization of Islamic Countries and to advise the government under General Ibrahim Babangid. After signing the consensus, the Christians returned to Babangid, led by the delegation, saying that they did not want the conclusion to be published and has never been published until today, “he said.

“The next vision was 2010. I was a member. Our hopes were aroused. The regime that followed General Abacha only ruined the whole thing, so to speak. Nothing has been done. So the question is why did we stick to the 2010 vision?

“The most painful of all was the one established after the election crisis after the election of former President Goodluck Jonathan. He appointed me chairman of the committee to investigate the causes of post-election violence. We wrote the report and this is between us and God, especially when there were some prominent lawyers and a prominent retired judge of the Uwais Supreme Court among us. We did a great job both as a Nigerian and a journalist, can you mention just two items that you consider in that report that was conducted. I want to be honest with you, we were all disappointed. “


Lema with Sanusi, former emir of Canoe, during condolences on a visit to Minni, Niger

Lemou said he was sad when he learned that in 1976 he was appointed a judge of the Sharia court because he “never liked the job”.

“When 19 states were created in 1976, including Niger, my name was forwarded for appointment to the judiciary of the state of Niger without my knowledge and consultation. When I did not see my name on the list of those who go to Niger or stay in Sokoto, I was told about the recommendation regarding my appointment as a judge of the Sharia Court. I felt seriously disappointed because I didn’t like the job at all. I didn’t like it. I referred the matter to Allah. I was so sad that I decided to travel from Nigeria for a while, ”he said.

Asked why he didn’t like the job, he replied: “When I told my father in 1948 that I had been admitted to Shairah Law School, he nodded to me, but added, ‘I don’t want you to be a judge.’ His fears stemmed from what he knew at the time because of the limited powers of judges whose decision could be overpowered by emirs or district chiefs. He couldn’t see how I could avoid such interference if I became a judge. “


Lem, the only survivor of the three partners of the founders of the Islamic Education Fund to mark the golden jubilee of the IET

Lemu wanted and spent his life after retiring in Da’wah (inviting or inviting people to Islam).

“I like to be a simple person. In December 1969, I told myself that I would retire to face the taxes and problems that are happening in Nigeria between Muslims and Christians. I was able to see and learn, understand and feel the real problem facing not only Nigeria but also the universal Muslim world, ”Lemu said. in a short video clip in 2014

Teslim Adeyemo, a coach and senior research staff at the Islamic Education Trust (IET), described Lemu as a “dawapreprenera” when talking about the IET. in an interview.

Lemu is one of two Nigerians who won the King Faisal International Award presented to him in 2014 for serving Islam. He was also awarded the National Honorary Order of the Niger (UN) and the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

He was born on December 1, 1929 in Lem, Niger State. He was married to Aisha Bridget Lem and together they founded the Islamic Education Fund (IET) with the aim of properly raising children and protecting women’s rights. Both of their children, Maryam and Nurrudden, are also Islamic scholars. Lemu also founded the Islamic Institute of Da’awa to fight extremism.


He received his early education at the Qur’anic School in 1932, followed by primary school (1939), then secondary school (now Government College) in Lemu, from which he obtained a secondary school certificate in 1948. He then joined Sharia Law (currently the School of Arab Studies) in Lemu, from which he obtained a high school (1950) and high (1952) teacher’s certificate (second level) for Arabic language, Islamic studies, Sharia jurisdiction and general education. In 1954, he went to the United Kingdom to study at the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London. He obtained a certificate of general education (advanced level) for history, Arabic, Hausa and Persian in 1961, and a bachelor’s degree in African and Oriental studies in 1964.