A business mogul and Agba Oye of Ibadanland, Chief Harry Ayodele Akande, finally succumbed to the cold hands of death early yesterday morning in Lagos after a brief illness at 77.
Late Chief Akande was an astute businessman of international repute whose legacy and influence cut across continents. He was the Chairman of Akande International Corporation (AIC), with interest in healthcare, engineering, building construction and power.
He was a one-time presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). According to the statement issued by his son, Olumide Akande, and made available to Sunday Telegraph, Chief Akande’s greatest passion was for a better Nigeria which guaranteed equity and justice for all.
“It is our fervent hope that this will be a reality in the not too distant future,” his son said. Olumide noted that the passing away of his billionaire father was a huge shock to his immediate and extended family, friends and associates. “We are all grappling to make some sense of it,” he quipped.
“As we seek the repose of his gentle soul, we ask you to in turn to uphold us in your prayers while we pass through this very turbulent period of our lives occasioned by the loss of someone as dear as him,” added.
The Agbaoye of Ibadan had served as a business advisor and consultant to many other businessmen, including governments of several nations. He scored many firsts in the nation’s business climate to the envy of many of his competitors. He would have scored yet another first in 2005, as the South African retail store, Shoprite, had several meetings with his company,
AIC Limited, and agreed his company would be the exclusive operator and manager of its brand across West Africa, except Ghana where the Shoprite brand was already established. Consequently, there were a series of business meetings between Akande’s representatives and Shoprite Checkers first in South Africa on April 16, 1998, and then at Akande’s office on Victoria Island, Lagos on May 27, 1998.
Shoprite was also said to have flown in representatives who were shown possible locations for retail stores at some locations, including Lekki Roundabout, Trade fair Complex and National Theatre, Iganmu. But when the South African retail giant was ready to commence operations in Nigeria, it allegedly sidelined Akande’s AIC and incorporated another company, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, and began using the new entity to operate in Nigeria, thereby breaching agreements between them.
The billionaire was upset and this led to a prolonged legal battle with Akande securing a 2018 major victory against the South African retail group for breaching a contract between both parties in Suit No LD/488/2010 —AIC Limited (Claimant) v Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Ltd of South Africa and Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited (Defendants).
However, Shoprite owners appealed the judgment, while the Ibadan, Oyo Stateborn billionaire secured another victory in May 2020 at the appellate court. Though the three-man panel of Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, didn’t agree to Akande’s cross-appeal, demanding 50 percent of $92.3 million as loss of profit he suffered due to the incorporation of Retail Supermarkets Limited, it unanimously affirmed the judgment of a Lagos High Court that awarded $10 million (N4.7 billion) damages against Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited.
Apart from the $10 million award, the court had directed the South African retail giant to pay 10 percent per annum on the damages, with effect from the date of judgment until the final liquidation of the entire sum. Consequently, the shrewd businessman has initiated a fresh legal battle at the Federal High Court to halt Shoprite Checkers’ exit moves out of Nigeria until the entire sum demanded is paid to the last kobo.
The billionaire, through his company, has got an ex parte application for an order of Mareva Injunction restraining the South African retail giant, its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non-cash assets from the court’s jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde, has described the death of Chief Akande, as a great loss to Oyo State and Nigeria. The governor, in a condolence message to the Akande family, stated that the passing on of Akande at this time meant that Ibadanland and Oyo State have lost another great man.
A statement by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde quoted the governor as praying God to grant repose to Akande’s soul and grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
According to Makinde, Akande’s fame as a businessman and his decision to join Nigerian politics to make a difference were classic, adding that his conduct gave courage to the younger generation of businessmen, most of whom he said have gone ahead to emulate Akande and are making good their dreams.
The governor said: “The news of the death of the Agba Oye of Ibadanland and internationally renowned businessman, Chief Harry Akande, came to me as a shock. “His death meant another great loss to Ibadanland, Oyo State and Nigeria.”