Home Governance 50 YEARS AGO — REMEMBERING ‘KUNLE ADEPEJU — by Adebukola Adepeju

50 YEARS AGO — REMEMBERING ‘KUNLE ADEPEJU — by Adebukola Adepeju

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Today, February 1, 2021 is the fiftieth anniversary of the killing of Adekunle Ademuyiwa Adepeju, a 23-year-old undergraduate of the University of Ibadan (UI). Kunle Adepeju, a second-year Agricultural Economics student, resident at Mellanby Hall was gunned down during a student demonstration. In January 1971, the resident students of Nnamdi Azikwe hall made allegations and petitioned the University authorities about the mismanagement, inefficient and sub-quality welfare and catering services by the Manageress, Mrs. Grace Apampa. The subsequent reluctance of the authorities led by the then Vice Chancellor, late Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo, to remove her from office quickly escalated into a demonstration which saw Lambo invite the police to quell the peaceful protests. Kunle himself had not been part of that protest. Rather, as he tried to make his way to his (Mellanby) hall from lectures, he came upon the clash between the protesting students and police force. Shots were fired, and as people took cover, Kunle bent over to help an injured student in the crowd when he was fatally injured. However, when he was killed, eyewitnesses reliably informed Kunle’s family that the police left his lifeless body, covered by a white sheet, stained with his blood, and laid on the ground by Queen’s Hall. The University authorities did not deem it fit to notify Kunle’s parents of his killing until a day prior to his funeral on Friday, February 5, 1971. Rather, his mother learned of her son’s death through a radio broadcast. His father got to know through the tailgating convoy of Ibadan Tennis Club mates that trailed him home from, Iyaganku, where he had gone to play tennis, after close of work, where the news was broken to him. Women and mothers wept bitterly while men and fathers gazed in sombre silence as the news of Kunle’s killing spread nationwide. According to reports, anger arose in the students and other people sympathetic to their plight such that the protests quickly shifted from poor welfare to state oppression. A mammoth crowd, numbering thousands witnessed his funeral at his family church, St. Anne’s Anglican Church, Molete, Ibadan, where tributes and orations in his honour were made by late Mr. Wahab Goodluck, the founding President of the Nigerian Labour Congress and Mr. Wole Soyinka, as he was then known. Consequently, there was a further four-day protest in Ibadan and Lagos, which led to the decimation of police posts and…

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