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The judgement that came between me and General Buhari – Justice Umar Abdullahi, former president, Court of Appeal

Justice Umar Faruk Abdullahi is one of those judicial titans Katsina State produced in the mould of Justice Mohammed Bello and Justice Mamman Nasir. Like…

Justice Umar Faruk Abdullahi is one of those judicial titans Katsina State produced in the mould of Justice Mohammed Bello and Justice Mamman Nasir. Like them, he started his career as a state counsel, rising to become the attorney-general of the state in 1975. He moved to the bench, becoming a High Court judge in 1978, then a judge in the Court of Appeal. When Katsina State was created in 1987, he became the first chief judge of the state. He returned to the Court of Appeal where he served in various divisions, eventually becoming the president of the court in 2000 before retiring in 2009 on reaching the grand age of 70.


Let me start by asking you about those early days in Daura, where you had your schooling as a young person.

Alhamdulillah, I guess my early years were as ordinary as those of any young person. The routine thing was education, so it all started at the Quranic school, and later on, we were enrolled in primary school.

Was that in Daura?

No, it was in Katsina. After we completed our primary education we were supposed to go to the Katsina Middle School, but that year, they started experimenting with senior primary school, so we were the first set to have that experience of attending senior primary school. I can remember that about 96 of us were supposed to go to the middle school that year. We were divided into two.

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Which year was that?

That was in 1953. There were 63 of us, all from Daura, northern Katsina and the middle part of Katsina. We were sent to Malumfashi, and we were there for about three months. Somehow, in between, the authorities took the decision that we should better come back to Katsina. We went into the middle school and joined them. We were there up till 1956.

There were interviews and tests and some of us were picked to go to Barewa College while some went to Kaduna Technical College. My ambition was to become a clerical officer, so I wanted to go to Sokoto Clerical School.

Why did you want to become a clerk; what attracted you?

I was attracted by the typewriter. I avoided all the interviews for those going to Barewa College and Kaduna Technical College.

Our principal saw me hanging around he asked, “What happened to you? We were looking for you, where were you”? I said I wanted to go to Sokoto Clerical College and he asked, “What are you talking about? You are not going to any clerical college; you are going to secondary school.”

A lot of us were listed to go to Katsina Provincial Secondary School. So, on January 1, 1956, we all went to the Katsina Provincial Secondary School. At that time there were other students from other provinces—Zaria, Sokoto.

Can you remember some of them?

Yes, I can. In fact, even from senior primary school, there were people I knew from Daura, such as General Buhari, Suleiman Isah Yar’adua, Muhtari Zango etc.

Were they among the 18?

No; from primary school. Among the 18 were General Buhari, Muhtari Zango, Kabiru Daura, Suleiman Yaradua. Then there were some from Funtua. I remember Sani Aliyu, also Mahmud Malumfashi, Kabiru Malumfashi, and there was Zailani Musa from Kankia.

Are you in touch with some of these people?

Quite a number of them have gone, but there are some still around. We still meet when I go to Kaduna. We still get together and play like small children. I know that Suleiman Isah Yar’adua, Hassan Sada and Magaji Bakori are there.

People would be curious to know what kind of person Buhari was as a student.

He was always a very serious and average student.

Did he show any special trait for leadership besides being an average student?

He ended up being the head boy of our school. Some of us were house prefects and so on. So there was this intuition right from the word, go. He took whatever he wanted to do seriously. That is much I can remember about him.

Tall boys tended to be promoted; did height also sometimes influence decisions? 

Yes. As a matter of fact, we were enrolled into the cadet corps. Interestingly, General Hassan Usman would visit the school whenever he came to Katsina.

I remember that we did a lot of military exercise in the cadet corps unit with Major Ibrahim Funtua. So I started getting interested in the military. By the end of our secondary school, in fact, three of us—myself, the late Shehu Yar’adua and Buhari wanted to go into the army.

So, Shehu Yar’adua was also in that secondary school.

He was in the same secondary school; and we were in primary school together.

In those days you could not leave school until you knew where next you were going. There was a clear conclusion that three of us were going to the army. But as God would have it, just about two days before we left school, my cousin, the late Alkali Ibrahim Modi called me and said, “Umaru, you have finished school, what do you intend doing next?” I said I was going into the army and he said, “No, you are not going into any army, you are going to the Kano Law School.”

So, he made the choice for you?

Yes. The following day, I went to see the principal and said, “I am sorry sir, I am no longer going to the army.” I told him the truth, explaining that my cousin said I shouldn’t go but rather go to the Kano Law School. He was very upset.

After seeing these generals become heads of state and nationally famous, did you have any regret?

I didn’t. It never occurred to me because I was satisfied with what I was doing. I never regretted for one moment, particularly as I was making good progress in my chosen career.

From the School of Arabic Studies in Kano, I think you went to Zaria to continue the training for law, is that correct?

That’s right.

Can you tell us a bit about your career?

The college we attended in Kano used to be called Abdullahi Bayero College. The Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) was not yet in place. A lot of us were in Kano doing A-level in Arabic and Islamic Studies. Then, all of a sudden, there was a legal course that was started in Zaria because the Northern Nigerian Government wanted to train lawyers in service. They took two people from each province to attend that course.

There was weeding every year, so we had to sit for test almost every two weeks. And the results of the tests were not marked in Zaria, they were sent to the United Kingdom Council of Legal Education. By the time you started with about 24, you would end up with six or five that would finish with the first part of the examination. I was lucky.

I remember that there were Katsina Alu, a former chief justice, and one Umaru Bello from Zaria, but unfortunately, he died. There was Lawal Abdullahi, who we called QC. He became a High Court judge in Plateau State, but he died. There was Mohammadu Wabili from Gombe. Unfortunately, he also died. There was also Timothy Oyefu from Ilorin, who was at one time the chief judge of Kwara State. At the end, about eight of us qualified.

Did eight of you go to England for the second part of that training?


How did you find England as a young man?

At one time there was excitement.

In the beginning?

In the beginning. The remarkable thing was that the way the arrangement was made to attend the lectures was quite challenging. You needed to compose yourself because there was nobody to force you to go to class or wake you up from sleeping.

I think we went in November because winter was just coming in. Initially, it was very difficult to settle. Then they started looking for accommodation for you because other people would be coming from other commonwealth countries. It was quite challenging because you were just on your own.

Justice Umar Faruk Abdullahi


Did you feel comfortable living in England or you felt alienated from the society?

We were all fairly young. We were adventurous, so we didn’t feel alienated. Somehow, we found ourselves in a group, where we understood one another. We did things together.

On weekends, other students doing courses outside London would sometimes come. We had a good team. We enjoyed ourselves before they went back to their universities.

I think you finished reading Law in 1966 and came back; was there an option for you to practise or you just had to go to the Ministry of Justice?

The whole purpose of the course was to produce lawyers for northern Nigeria, so there were people monitoring our progress. In fact, they made arrangement for us to come back home fast. When I came back in 1966, the course at the Nigerian Law School had already started, so I was late to attend the law school at that session until the following year.

How was it being a young lawyer in Kaduna; by then, had you settled as a family man?

Well, I already had a wife but she had not really lived with me until when I finished from the law school and came back. I was a state counsel for about two years, then I was transferred to the judiciary and became a grade 2 magistrate.

I was in the magistrate unit for four years. My last posting was in Zaria, then I came back to Kaduna. I was posted back to the Ministry of Justice and I went into doing some prosecutions. I was there for one year and was posted back to the judiciary as the chief registrar of the High Court.

I was the chief registrar for about one and a half years, then there was the 1975 change of government and the late Justice Nasir was the attorney-general. He had to leave with his colleagues in the Abba Kyari administration. The late Usman Jubril was posted to Kaduna as the governor and he appointed me the attorney-general of the state.

Was that appointment a surprise for you or you were the most senior person at that time?

Honestly, I just accepted what was given to me. I don’t sit down and start analysing why I am where I find myself because I know that the people doing it are doing it for my benefit. I don’t have to question their decision.

It was a political appointment so you were taken to the cabinet; how did you feel?

In those days, commissionership was not attached to the office of the attorney-general. You were just there as a professional and would work as such.

I was attorney-general for about two years, then I was pulled to the High Court as a judge. I was there for five years and was moved to the Court of Appeal, which was a promotion.

Was this movement from the ministry to the bench something you wanted or you were just posted?

Like I said, I had it at the back of my mind that those who were moving me from one place to another knew what they were doing. I think that in a way I was lucky because it was a way of grooming me to know both sides of the coin. I was really well groomed in all aspects of the legal system.

What was your strength—the bench or prosecution?

Well, it is difficult to say, but the bench is more settling than the Ministry of Justice. In the ministry you have a lot more latitude and can leave to start your own practice, but in the bench, it is very difficult for you to leave. If you become a High Court judge you will hardly go back to practice – you cannot go and establish your chamber and start practising.

Is there a law against it or it is a convention?

It is a convention. Anyway, I was comfortable with the judicial appointments because there were a lot of challenges. And I like challenges. Fortunately, I had some very solid, good friends and colleagues who were always ready to help me go through.

I can particularly remember Justice Belgore, who was a chief magistrate. There was also the late Shehu Mohammed. They really groomed me.

They both became chief justices?

Shehu was in the Supreme Court when he died in an accident, but Justice Belgore became chief justice. Like I said, I was quite settled in the judicial arena and was making good progress because there were people who could always guide you.

Tell us about your appointment as the first chief judge of Katsina, your home state.

I was in the Court of Appeal in Jos when the state was created. Both Justice Bello, who was then chief justice, and the late Galadima (Justice Mamman Nasir), who was the president of the Court of Appeal, said it was a young state that needed an experienced hand to establish the judiciary, so I was the only target.

Did you feel it was a duty for you?

I accepted it as a duty; after all, it is my home state. I gave them one condition and they said they would give me leave without pay but I would retain my seniority in the Court of Appeal. I was comfortable with that.

How was it being the chief judge of Katsina?

Initially, it was tough because there were no judges, no courts. Katsina State was just a provincial headquarters, there was really nothing there.

So, you established the system?

I established the system. I recruited judges and magistrates, built courts and houses for judges. I was doing it with all the strength and experience I had.

In four years, I had recruited five High Court judges and appointed some magistrates. I built courts and the administration was firmly in place.

The funny part is that I found the work a little bit not to my liking because I thought I had passed that stage. I felt a little bit frustrated because there were no challenges.

In the Court of Appeal you are exposed to more challenges than the High Court. I thought it was a little bit too tight for me, so I said I would go back to the Court of Appeal.

So you lasted only four years there?

Only four years.

But you could have stayed for more years if you wanted?

I could have stayed, but I found that I no longer enjoyed the judicial work because it was a bit more localised. There weren’t very good lawyers to challenge you so that you could go into research and make sure you knew what you were doing as a judge. It was not a similar thing as the Court of Appeal.

Was there pressure on you as a local man?

No. In the first place, many people in Katsina did not know me because I did not stay there long enough. Most of my career time was outside Katsina, so I didn’t have pressure from people. That was the luck I had; and maybe the background of where I came from – a judicial family. I had to protect the name of the family, my own name and the system. That made it easier for me. I never had any interference from my relatives for whatever reasons because they were also judges.

So, you quickly went back to the Court of Appeal in 1982?

That’s right. I was in the Court of Appeal, Enugu for one and half years and was posted to Kaduna, also as a presiding justice. I was in Kaduna for about four years, then came to Lagos. That was when General Abdusalami Abubakar came into office. In fact, he was the one who appointed me as the president of the Court of Appeal.

Was your position as the president of the Court of Appeal the high point of your career in the judiciary? Was it a political appointment?

It was a judicial appointment; and you know that in the judiciary we are like the military – we respect seniority. You don’t have to lobby for a job meant for you.

People who do the appointment have the records, including your performance etc. So, if they are satisfied that you can do the job they give it to you. That was what happened in my case.

And you spent 10 years as the president of the Court of Appeal?


Was it something you enjoyed?

Like I said, Court of Appeal was virtually my home because right from its inception it was based on understanding, cooperation and hard work. I remember that the first president was Justice Dan Igbokwe. He and the late Justice Nasir were in the Supreme Court together. In 1976 when the Court of Appeal was created, he was made the president and Justice Nasir was his second.

They did all the groundwork for the establishment of the court, but Justice Igbokwe didn’t live long. I think he lived for about 9 months and Justice Nasir took over as president.

He was there for seven years or so. After he became the Galadima (district head of Malumfashi), the late Justice Akanbi took over from him and did some five or six years. I took over from Justice Akanbi and stayed long.

You were one of the longest presidents there.

I was one of the longest, even up till now. I don’t know whether somebody can break my record.

To a layman, the Supreme Court is the last word in the judiciary but you didn’t get to that level; is it something you missed in your career?

No. I think I was very happy and consumed in the Court of Appeal. There was a practice, and I think that up till now, anybody going to the Supreme Court would have to come through the Court of Appeal. In fact, it is a training ground for the justices of the apex court. It has been the practice for many years and we hope it remains the same.

The Supreme Court is not a joking place; I mean you need somebody who knows you from the word go. I think we need to stick to the old principles that if you want to go to the Supreme Court you would come to the Court of Appeal first and at least stay for some years – three, four, five years. By then you are well prepared because the system is the same; we don’t take evidence at the Court of Appeal, we rely on cold printed records. And if you are used to that, I think you would find it easier to sail through at the Supreme Court. They also don’t take evidence; they use printed records to arrive at a decision.

And on presentation, you need people who are articulate, good and there to help the administration of justice. They are there to do their duty as officers of the court to assist, not to mislead the court. You need people of integrity from the bar to do that. They don’t take advantage of loopholes in the system.

As an officer of the court you are supposed to assist in the best way you can to arrive at justice. The main focus is for people to get justice.

Do you have any regret that you didn’t end your career at the Supreme Court?

I consider the Court of Appeal as my home and I was very comfortable there. I was glad with what I was doing and what I achieved. When it comes to status, it is the same with justices of the Supreme Court. The president of the Court of Appeal is at the same level with the Supreme Court judge, so I am not missing anything.

In your career, what judgement do you still remember as something weighty?

Before the advent of the political arena in the place, I prosecuted some cases and got some people convicted for murder. There was one particular case that really stayed for a long time in my mind. I think it was in Zango Daura, where the father of two brothers asked them to go to the farm and do some work. One of them went, but the other one refused to go. Later, when it was time to have meal, the one who went to the farm came back home and asked about his brother but their father said he didn’t go to the farm. I think the father dressed him down. Then the person who didn’t go to the farm saw his brother sleeping, went back home, took a huge club and went to the place, with everybody around, and hit him on the head and he died there. The people arrested him and the matter was brought to the police.

There was a body they called Prerogative of Mercy. I remember that the late Emir of Daura was the chairman of that body. They went through his case and found no merit in it, so they dismissed it.

From the High Court, an appeal went straight to the Supreme Court, which dismissed it and it went to the Prerogative of Mercy, which looked at it and also dismissed it.

The point I am trying to make is that on the day that boy was going to be executed, I was the chief registrar, and as the sheriff, I was supposed to be present at the place of execution, so they sent me the invitation and I went to the prison yard. They gave me the list and I saw his name, but I was already in, so there was no way of escape.

I was the one who advised that he should be prosecuted. I prosecuted him and he was convicted. When his time came to go to the gallows, I was standing with some officials of the prison yard and some police officers. He stood right in front of me and asked, “Do you remember me?” I said yes and he said, “I did this to myself, so I do not blame any of you.” I couldn’t even reply because I was overtaken by emotion. He moved to the platform and was executed. It was something that stayed in my mind for a long time. What prosecutors face is not enjoyable, but it is a duty.

What political cases were you involved in that also stayed with you?

I remember the case of MKO Abiola. I was in Kaduna division when he was arrested for declaring himself president.

He applied for bail through G.O.K Ajayi, his counsel, but the conditions given were very stringent. Ajayi rejected the terms of the conditions, and as God would have it, Abiola was transferred to Kaduna division and his counsel went and filed a fresh application for bail.

Justice Umar Faruk Abdullahi


Was the case in your division in Kaduna?

Yes; where I was presiding. So jurisdiction shifted from Abuja to Kaduna. They filed application for a review of the conditions for bail. I remember that Justice Mahmud, who was later the chief justice, was there. He was my number two, and another fellow from Calabar. We had to look at the application.

We were not thinking of the political implication; we were only looking at the justice of the case, so we decided that if he was qualified we should grant him bail because there was an appeal against the stringent conditions given. We had to modify the conditions.

And so, we took the case and granted him bail. We modified the conditions to an acceptable level. What we didn’t know was that the powers-that-be didn’t want bail granted. It became a problem, particularly for me as the presiding justice.

How did you know it was a problem?

I knew it was a problem because at that time there was a Gwarzo. I think he was the National Security Adviser to the late Abacha. We were friends with Abacha; we used to play snooker in Kaduna Club. He (Abacha) was unhappy with the way we handled that case, not minding that we were not politicians, we were judges, but he was upset, particularly with me.

So, one day Gwarzo was passing through to Kano and he branched to the court. We exchanged pleasantries and he said, “Look, I am going to make an arrangement for you to see the head of state; he was very upset about your ruling.”

I said, “I am a judge, I am supposed to follow the administration of justice and do what I think is just. If this is the reason you are going to invite me, please don’t, because I am not going to come.”

About two weeks later, he came back to Kaduna and said, “Please, the head of state is organising a breakfast and I am going to put your name to attend.”

Was that during fasting?

During fasting; and I said, “So you are going to put my name to attend the breaking of fast so that I would apologise to him? Why don’t you tell him that this is the legal process, why pin it on me? I am only doing my job.”

Did you eventually meet Abacha?

I didn’t go until much later. I think he came to realise that maybe he was either being misinformed or he didn’t appreciate our position as judges. It was a chance meeting; there was a seminar or something he attended. After he opened the seminar, he saw me. People were rushing to greet him but I didn’t move, so he came down to me and said, “We are still friends?” I said yes.

I believe there was another friend of yours who was upset with a judgement you were also involved in. I am talking of President Buhari. He keeps saying there was his classmate, a Muslim that didn’t quite support his ambition; is that correct?

I stopped him from becoming president.

How did you feel about it?

I felt bad because I believed that if Buhari had been properly advised he wouldn’t have gone the way he went. Why should I even bother myself to go and explain to him? Justices do not explain reasons for their judgements, they just pass them. And after passing your judgement, you don’t have to explain to anybody. So I took that position not to explain to him.

Initially, when we were going to sit, my wife then was the electoral commissioner in Edo State. I read it in an open court that my wife was with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and I would want to withdraw from the case. But both counsels on both sides said it was not enough reason, saying they knew what I could do, so I should please stay on. Then we went ahead.

We finished that case; and during a conference we all agreed where it should go. On the eve that we were going to deliver the judgement, one of our colleagues, Justice Nsofor, who was part of the conference, came in looking worried. I asked what was the matter and he said he didn’t think he could go along with us. I told him that it was no reason to be unhappy as he was entitled to his judgement, after all, majority decision is always the judgement of the court. I said he could write his dissenting judgement and there won’t be a problem.

I asked what he wanted to do and he said he wanted the judgement to be moved from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock so that he would be able to write something. We agreed to do it for him.

Were you the presiding justice?

Yes. I was the president of the Court of Appeal. We gave him all the latitude. The following day we went into the court and delivered our judgement. He also delivered his minority judgement and that was the end of the matter. I still want to believe that Buhari was not advised on this matter.

By his lawyers?

I don’t know. What we came to know later was that Mike Ahamba, who was Buhari’s lawyer, approached Nsofor and said, “This is a very important case in my life; to say that I got nothing out of it is not good for my standing, so give me your vote.” That was why Nsofor came in looking perturbed.

Was he initially with you?

He was with us and we were all going over the judgement to put finishing touches.

Do you have any regret about your decision to stand against Buhari’s ambition to become president at that time?

Yes; but we did our job as judges; we relied on facts, presentation and the law. We didn’t rely on our personal opinions. And as the head, I was just first among equals.

And you could not overrule?

I could not overrule. We had to go the way we had to go; and if I didn’t like it I could write my minority judgement. We all agreed, so why pin it on me? Was it because we were classmates and from the same state, and what have you?

Did it affect your relationship with him?

To be honest, it did because he kept on repeating that in many fora and places and I felt he was carrying the thing too far.

You never had the chance to discuss with him?

No. In fact, I avoided him completely. I wouldn’t say I didn’t meet him throughout his eight years. I met him once and there was a reason for that.

Was it in Kebbi?

No; near Kebbi; they were all part of Kebbi State.

Emir of Zuru, another general?

That’s right; we were very good friends; in fact, family friends. So we knew each other very well. He had wanted me to visit him in Zuru but I was not able to do so. One day, there was a marriage ceremony of the child of one of the judges, so they provided an aircraft and I joined them and went to Zuru for the marriage.

In the arena, the Emir of Zuru came in and was shaking hands; we were all standing and he came in front of me and said, “You, in Zuru today?”

I apologised and I said I didn’t do well because I should have come. I promised that since this was not his calling, I would come back. He said I should not bother.

I was at that marriage ceremony when the former attorney-general came and we greeted each other.

Who was this; Malami?


He said the president wanted to see me and I asked if he was sure about it. I said if he was serious about it, when I went back to Abuja he should come to my house and pick me because I could not see myself making arrangement to go and see the president. We made an arrangement and he came.

We went to the Villa and he took us to a small sitting room. Three minutes later, Buhari came out. We shook hands and he said, “Baba, I have not seen you for quite a while.” And I said, “You didn’t look for me, Mr President, but let’s pray before we start talking”. So we prayed, sat down and had some tea.

So you made up?

Well, we made up, so to speak, and we kept on chatting. We were chatting for up to 15 minutes.

But not about the court judgement?

He didn’t tell me why he sent for me and I didn’t ask. He said, “I am going to Qatar tomorrow, when I come back I will send for you.”

I said fine and we parted. He didn’t look for me and I didn’t look for him. This is where we are.

Were you aware of annual visits by his old classmates to Daura?

Yes; to greet him either for Sallah or whatever. I never attended, for the simple reason that I used my common sense. It is true that we had been close and grew up together, but he had this notion that I was the one who stopped him from becoming the president of this country, so I didn’t know how he would react when I got to his house. And I didn’t know how I would react either. I advised myself to keep away, and that was exactly what I did. I never attended those visits.

What do you feel about the general impression that the judiciary in Nigeria is corrupt, that it doesn’t give justice and sometimes rely on technicalities? Also, sometimes judges are influenced.

To be honest with you, I feel worried over these allegations. But I know, with no doubt in my mind, that there are still very good judges. But you know that in an institution like the judiciary, one person can scatter a lot of things. I believe that all these allegations are not for nothing.

What worries me is that there are some who have fallen by the wayside. In other climes, when a person like a judge has done something wrong, there are processes, you can take steps to get him removed from the system.

I will not say that those allegations are farfetched, there are some elements of truth in them, but so long as we keep on accommodating those kinds of characters in the judiciary, I think we are doing a lot of disservice to the country.

How did you react to the Onnoghen case, where a sitting chief justice was exposed and eventually hounded out as corrupt?

That’s a classic case, I must say. I know Justice Onnoghen very well because he worked under me in the Court of Appeal before he got to the Supreme Court and eventually became the chief justice. But those traits that eventually came up were not available to me, so I regarded him as a good and clean judge all the time.

A lot of people believe that the judiciary, rather than the people now choose our leaders, including governors and the president; are you worried that such high political profile cases end up being determined by few judges?

I think this is a misconception. I mean the process is guided by law. The independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which organises the elections, has guidelines, rules, procedures and so on. And there is an electoral act, which gives guidance to everyone to follow.

But somehow, it is as if there’s conspiracy to overload the judiciary with the problem. Everybody keeps quiet until a judgement is delivered and they jump on the judiciary. I don’t think it is fair.

You have retired; are you glad that you left all these problems behind?

Absolutely. This is because during my time we were doing things in accordance with rules and regulations. Now, there are a lot of agencies involved in this thing and some are there to breach the law, but the end result is what is placed before the court.

You have left the system for 13 years or more; how is life in retirement?

I think I have tailored my life not to overburden myself. I receive a lot of invitations to participate in workshops etc, but I choose the ones I want to attend once in a while.

But I now play a greater role in the Body of Benchers because I am a life bencher; I was even a chairman at one time.

What does the body do?

They are supposed to be in charge of disciplining lawyers and regulating call to the bar of new lawyers, as well as cooperate with the Council of Legal Education and the Law School. When students are trained and they pass their exams, the body of benchers will have a look at them and determine who is fit to be called to the Nigerian Bar. I spend my time fully on that.

What other things do you do with your time now?

I read. I have a good library; you can see the Quran there.

Do you have any hobby aside reading; any physical activities?

I used to do some walking when it was safe to do so, but it is no longer safe. I used to go out along these streets around the neighbourhood, but some of my security-conscious friends said I should better do it in the house, so I now do it at home after Subhi prayers. I do a lot of rounds around my house -10, 15, 30 minutes, then I call it a day.

How is family life for you?

Fine. My children have all grown up; we grew up together.

I think you have always been married to one wife, why?

Yes, but not all the time. There was a time I had three at once. My first wife was my relative; she was my cousin. She died; and the second one also died about two years ago, so this one is the only one left. I don’t intend to go any further; I will stay here.

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