A Befitting Ode And Rare Requiem To My Good Friend And Attorney, Olakunle Felix Fadipe (1963-2014)
I was rudely and greatly shocked beyond my wits. I still am. Even as I am trying to put these befitting panegyrics together, the gruesome murder of my friend, classmate, confidant, a friend that sticks to more than a brother, a fellow believer and my personal attorney in Nigeria, Barrister Olakule Fadipe seemed like a somnambulatory nightmare. I am yet to come to terms with the sad reality that this gentle soul and few of the most trusted friends I have in Nigeria is gone and gone forever.
The harbinger of the sad news was my Personal Assistant in Nigeria and it came via a terse email; “Dear Sir, I hope all is well with you and Dr Margie. Shocked to hear that your friend and our lawyer, Barrister Kunle Fadipe was murdered yesterday in his house at Harmony Estate. I don't know whether you've heard about it, just informing you Sir in case you've not heard about it. Stay blessed Sir! My regards to Dr Margie!”
I thought it was a cruel joke and briefly ignored it. It was last Thursday afternoon here in Chicago. I had just flipped the channel to ESPN to watch the match between host nation, Brazil and Germany in the current FIFA World Cup Tournament Quarterfinals. My wife and I had booked our July 4th Independence holiday vacation at Wisconsin Dells Resorts at nearby Wisconsin State but shelved it at the last minutes because of traffic gridlock and the last minute jerk-up of the hotel rates commonly associated with such celebration here in the United States. We didn't want to have a part in the “madness” and so preferred to mark our holiday quietly together on our own terms with my mother-in-law and few family friends and neighbors.
I thought my PA made a mistake in his email but I have known Arinze by now that he would never play that kind of pranks. I was shaking and muttered to myself: “But Lord why didn't You show me this?” I rushed upstairs to my wife and broke the sad news to her. “What, your friend and lawyer in Nigeria?” she shouted. Dr. Margie Neal and Kunle only met once during our three-day stay in Lagos when we visited Africa in 2011, but the convivial connection between the two of them was instant. My wife was visiting Black Africa for the first time. She knows me that I hardly refer to any one as a close friend, except Kunle and so was expectantly looking forward to meet him.
Left: The late Barrister Kunle Fadipe murdered in his home on Thursday night in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. Right, Barrister Fadipe during an interview on Channel TV, Lagos, Nigeria.
When we arrived in Abuja in late 2010 for our book research, I told Kunle I would not be able to make it to Lagos but promised to touch down as soon as my friend joined me few days later. As my lawyer, I sent some paper work to him to tighten the legal end while our journey to Port Harcourt, Yenogoa and Otuoke with my wife prevented us from coming to Lagos as promised until we returned back to the United States. By March 2011, we returned back to Nigeria again, but this time, we made sure we kept our promise. Always hospitable since we became close friends at the University of Lagos during our undergraduate days, Kunle volunteered to host us in his house until I told him we had already booked and paid for our hotel in Lagos.
No sooner we arrived at our hotel than Kunle, and his wife Kemi joined us. We hadn't seen one on one for nearly 12 years since I left Nigeria with my entire family. Plenty to reminiscence and as we sat by the pool side at our Lagos hotel, he and my wife discussed at length on virtually all topics under the sun. His wife, Kemi whom I had known for twenty years back to their dating years was as sweet as ever. I told him we were exploring ways to visit my home town of Owo in Ondo State but he advised against it. “I know you Fayee,” he said in his usual sotto voce, “you'll not play ball with the Nigerian Police on the way and remember, Nigeria has changed not for good but for worse since you left. I'm more concerned about your American wife.”
The Beruitization of Nigeria is no longer news; the perennial gangland kidnapping, armed robberies, police harassment and accidental fire arm discharge, bribe solicitation, deplorable highway and traditional usual suspects, on and on. When you mix all these with the spate of Boko Haram blood-curdling incidents, one has to think twice as he advised so I got the message. We returned to Abuja and later finished our assignment in Nigeria and returned home to Chicago, but the bond between us has never ceased.
Born on December 8, 1963 at the Source; Ile-Ife, Kunle attended St. John's Grammar School Ile-Ife, then proceeded for his Advanced Level and later entered the University of Lagos where our paths crossed during our undergraduate days in the 1980s. He was the president of the Law Society at the University of Lagos in his set while I was the president of the University of Lagos Students Union. A very prodigiously talented fellow, Kunle had an uncanny teleological approach to the study and practice of law. He believed that the legal profession could be an instrument for societal change even though I constantly argued with him that the legal profession is an em-bourgeoisified craft of the powerful and the ruling class to maintain the status quo.
A very catholically-minded fellow, completely un- cocooned to his law practice after graduation as evidenced by his disquisition on varied topics and subjects. He cut his legal teeth at the law chambers of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi upon graduation from the Nigerian Law School in the late “80s and distinguished himself creditably. He later moved to Chief Theophillus Olawale Shobowale (TOS) Benson Law Firm in central Lagos where again he excelled before branching out on his own shortly before we launched our magazine; the samizdat Razor in the 1990s.
He did all the paper works and was our company secretary and corporate attorney through those years of the infamous Abacha military regime. Each time any of my workers ran into trouble, he was the first person to show up. Barrister Fadipe served on the board of the Federal Human Rights Commission set up by the military junta even though I objected to it, but he was able to put up a spirited argument for accepting the offer. “Fayee, it's better for one of us to be inside while some like you should be on the outside,” he said, “through such combined efforts, we can change this country.” I firmly believed in his sincerity and didn't doubt his altruistic mission at the commission and events proved him right as he didn't sell out.
As I ruminated over the circumstances of his murder over last black weekend asking the Lord why I wasn't shown, the Holy Spirit reminded me of our discussions in his office during my second visit to Lagos, Nigeria in 2011 before my wife joined me in Abuja. He said two attempts had been made on his life in his office in the past. Some hired assassins had invaded his law chambers by scaling the fence at night-Kunle was a workaholic who stayed as late as 12 midnight at times in his office-and shot his left leg before he miraculously escaped when public light was restored in his area. The assassins exploited the noise of the petrol generating set in his law chambers to gain entrance to his office.
I asked him who did he suspect as their principal and without hesitation told me matter-of-factly why they were after his life. I suggested to him he should consider leaving Nigeria. I could see him demurring and the agony in his eyes; he complained of his young kids, his love for the legal profession and the reality of having to start life all over again in the United States. I assured him I would facilitate everything warning that such evil-minded killers are difficult to shake-off and they may return again. As the concatenations of events leading up to his senseless murder at his home on Friday morning unravel in the newspapers, I knew those evil bastards had returned to finish off where they left few years ago.
• Dr Moshood Fayemiwo And His Lawyer, The Late Kunle Fadipe During A Press Conference In Lagos, Nigeria In March, 2011.
I knew Kunle intimately for nearly 30 years; he was very frank to everyone, at times brutally frank even to those of us his friends. During the Years of Ignorance when Satan ruled my life, I had never seen Kunle with any woman apart from his current wife, Kemi who he dated consistently with fidelity before they became husband and wife. I can say it anywhere that Kunle never collected a bribe and neither did he give any one bribe in spite of Nigeria's discombobulating culture. He shunned easy wealth and chose to run his own race. He was a loving husband, a devoted father, a pastor and a genuine man of God, a human rights activist and a forthright gentleman per excellence. There are few of him in Nigeria as far as I know. He made such a positive and great impression on my wife less than two hours they met for the first time forcing my wife to offer him great compliments as a Nigerian, which are rare. According to media reports, the psychopathic fellow that knifed him in front of his family in his living room demanded for about $3,000.
The deranged murderer came in to carry out his Satanic act under the same ambience of darkness when public light went out and his son was about to crank-up the petrol generating set in his house just like the hired assassins did earlier on. How was the killer or killers able to gain access to Kunle's house in the first place, if he had not been casing the environment and hiding in plain sight? Did he follow Kunle from his office to Harmony Estate and bided his time? Why did he demand for money in the first place, because Kunle hardly carry cash in his house or office? How was this killer or can we say killers able to stab this gentle soul with a knife to such an extent that Kunle lost so much blood and medical help was not forthcoming?
This killer didn't have a gun on him and there were at least three adults in the living room, how was it difficult that the assailant could not be subdued? There are many questions that demand answers. I am still speechless and unable to come to terms with the demise of my good friend and brother. My hearts and that of my wife go to Kemi and their three children. Kunle shouldn't have died, because he was a good man; he knew the Lord and was a very genial and straight-forward fellow. The “bad guys” are the ones thriving and living while the few good ones never last in Nigeria. This is heart-wrenching but our consolation is that Barrister Kunle Fadipe didn't just sneak into this planet earth, but he walked gallantly, bestrode his environment and made his mark.
He assisted the poor and had great dreams for his fatherland but as it is now the norm in a rudderless nation such as Nigeria that is so lawless and anything goes, Lawyer Fadipe was cut down in his prime. It's a pity! Rest in peace my brother until we meet at the Lord's re-union. I will terribly and sorely miss you. But on a more unfortunate note in this episodic event is the larger implication of the ambience of violence and culture of brutality that has enveloped Nigeria. There are three sets of generations now alive in Nigeria; the pre-independence Nigerians born from the 1930s to 1960 who witnessed British colonial administration.
These remnants of Nigerians described by Prof Wole Soyinka lived under a different culture and subscribed to certain ethical values. The second generation was those of us born in the 1960s which Barrister Kunle Fadipe belonged. Between 1960 and 1985, we lived under certain enviable and noble culture of love for education and hard work. From 1985 and now, pointedly when the military cretin known as Ibrahim Babangida seized power in that hapless nation, the third generation of Nigerians were born with new national culture.
Those of us who belong to the second generation were the children of immediate post-independence Nigeria who valued education and had high hopes for our motherland. Half of us are now the professional class that has either been killed assassinated or ran out of Nigeria. A recent research conducted here in the United States revealed that nearly 80 percent of the professional class: medical doctors, scientists, professors, writers, lawyers and attorneys etc. are now scattered all over the world. The ethos we were brought up has been eroded by the “Babangida Era” of the mid-1980s that do not value education anymore with nil- premium on hard work.
The situation is compounded by the damage done to Nigeria by the nearly one and half decade of the Babangida and the Abacha military regimes. Now violence has become an instrument to settle scores, inflict pains and resolve conflicts in Nigeria. By the time the psychological effects of the current misanthropic activities of Boko Haram, besides religious warfare, run full circle in Nigeria, all semblances of the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts in any sane society would have completely disappeared. As Ambassador Campbell once stated, Nigeria is not just dancing on the brink of disintegration, but turning into a failing state each day where security of life and property cannot be guaranteed and hell will presently let loose on earth.
E-TRIBUTE TO THE LATE BARRISTER KUNLE FADIPE BY ADMIRERS AND FRIENDS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
RIP great man! Adieu Greatest Akokite!! You will be greatly missed. The Lord will comfort your wife, children and entire family... 'Leye please take heart! This is a very tough situation to comprehend; but the will of God. Very sad indeed! ---Kunle Kujebe, Lagos, Nigeria.
Uncle so it is true that you are no more R.I.P---Fadehan Christopher Adesegun, Sagamu, Ogun State.
Unbelievable, this is sad! Rest in peace. You came, you saw, and you conquered. They lost, you won. You achieved greatness, they got nothing. Many respected you for who you were and you will continue to live in the hearts of those your paths crossed. Heartbreaking still, RIP. ---Temitope Bajela-Olajide, Lagos, Nigeria.
Mr. Fadipe- this was not our plan at all! We always plan to see again! Why???? Oh dear! What of mummy Fola and the kids? Please tell me it's not true still!!!---Tosin Showobi, London, UK.
Kunle, rest in peace. I will miss you. ---Allen Dapo-Aramide, Warsaw Poland.
This is sad news for me. And I am yet to believe it as I am emotionally down. I just don't understand this wicked world we are in. I am sad because Kunle Fadipe is my person inside out as he was a lawyer with a prominent law office of Otunba TOS Benson and Co belonging to the First Federal Republic Minister of Information where I also had my working career as personal secretary before he was appointed alongside others as Federal Human Rights Commissioner by Abacha junta. The entire ex- members of TOS Benson and Co will miss him a great deal. He was a consummate human rights lawyer, a writer and social commentator in mass media. This is cruel of whoever is behind the killing of Barrister Kunle Fadipe. Oppressed people he renders free legal services to will miss him a great deal. I am crying now and in sad mood. I just don't know why we have wicked and bad people in the world. ---Mr.Emeka Anozie, Lagos, Nigeria.
WHY MUST THE GOOD DIE YOUNG? Whoever is behind your demise will surely see the wrath of God. May you rest in the bosom of the Lord. ---Mr. Festus Olugbenga Agboola, Lagos, Nigeria.
We will miss Barrister Kunle Fadipe. I can't still believe that your life was cut short by some hoodlums. This is sad news too many. May your soul rest in peace.---Mr. John Oziegbe, Lagos, Nigeria.
I MOURN MY FRIEND.When Kunle celebrated his 50th birthday, I was there to reminisce our youthful years. My earlier impressions of him were of boldness, strength and astute keen intelligence. He inspired me even as a classmate, to learn essay writing. By virtue of which I won awards in essay writing, even in the secondary school. A few days to WAEC, he asked me to teach him a few basic topics in Mathematics, the only subject he was yet to master. With an unparalleled focus, Kunle got his credits in Mathematics. The focus that later propelled him to excel in his HSC papers to gain admission to read law at UNILAG. Our friendship was so sincere, and mutually faithful, his mother wondered how we would cope, if we went to different universities. He was a school prefect that feared no foe and showed no preferential treatment, no matter whose horse was gored. Kunle would not allow injustice to endure, yet he could not hurt a fly.
I had occasions to disagree with him, admire him, argue with him but never ceased to acknowledge his truthfulness. He had a fault. Yea, He was never afraid to criticize evil. He would never tolerate injustice or evil, even if perpetrated by his friends or associates. In his last days, his often quoted verse was that he became encouraged by the bible verse that stated “the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Last week before I travelled, I spoke with him, and wondered how he was able to confront the various evil and wickedness he was fighting as a lawyer. Kunle was the only Nigerian I knew, who had vowed and kept it, that he would never pay for justice or favor, whether at the courts or at the police stations. I admit, he had too many battles to fight; not for himself but for his friends, community and associates. He always found a legal solution to every riddle. His subordinates called him, “Irunmole.” Being a pastor, I used the title only once. He was an enigma to many.
I arrived in Nigeria about two hours ago, to the rude and shocking “rumor” that assassins had visited him. I trust him. He would NEVER give in easily. I BEG the Inspector-General; Please don't ever believe that they were thieves.Whosoever sent them must be found. He had too many battles to fight and just for the sake of the society and his clients. Today I understood the anguish and agony that David felt at hearing the death of Jonathan. I grieve for you my friend, Kunle. And if you were to talk now, you would sarcastically retort: “Et tu Demola,But you are a pastor!!!”
I therefore take solace, that if anybody of this age fears not to die, you would be number one. You have often said so, that you would not mind to die for the truth, even as recent as last week. Those who killed you and their killers got it wrong. You already raised an army of lawyers to fight for justice. You have inspired others to have hope, that truth will always prevail. I therefore can join you to say “Where, O death is your victory….” I feel you, I miss you.
But thank God, You acquainted yourself with Him, who loved you most. JESUS. Adieu my friend. I'll see your wife and children in the morning. I cannot finish this piece without remembering your own testimony about four years ago, when some people came to your office that they had been paid to assassinate you. You pointedly told them, they had the wrong person, for you always used your law practice to help the masses. No sane human being could say that you had unjustifiably offended him/her. Although you were shot then, you overcame them. Even now, in death you have overcome them. A committed activist, a truest patriot, a loving husband, a model father, a faithful friend, community leader and national figure, My international lawyer. Good night. —Dr Ademola Ayodele, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital-LUTH-Lagos, Nigeria.
Very sad news coming from Nigeria this morning, RIP Barrister Kunle Fadipe killed by hired assassins, great lost to Ifako-Ijaiye... Thank you for all you did for me personally---Omo Sho, London, UK.
*Dr. Fayemiwo, quondam professor of Biblical Exegesis at Kingdom Bible College and Seminary, Tucson, AZ is CEO, Alternative Lifestyle Communication, DBA Chicago and co-author of the latest book: “Coming to America.” Visit his company's website at www.allternativecommunication.net.Please all private email for urgent attention should be sent to this email contact address: [email protected] Thanks.