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“leaving Nigerians less secure, poorer and more in debt than when he came to office in 2015.”
showed immense immaturity in superintending over the enormous judicial, executive and legislative powers he wielded as Oba. And, he began the abuse of these powers from the first day of his kingship. A few months into being in office, the colonial government reprimanded the Awujale for extorting forestry fees from his subjects, and in 1928 he received two more reprimands for grafts, one of which was for collecting a bribe in February of that year to favour an ascension to the Onipe of Ibu stool. While he was implicated for attempting to cover up a case of homicide in March of the same 1928, by October of the same year, he was alleged to have attempted to rid the town of Joseph Igu, also widely known as Frugality, an anti-corruption crusader, who was a pain in the neck of traditional maladministration.
Ejigbadero, who was a supposed mascot in the Papa Ajao, Mushin, Agege and Alimosho areas of Lagos during his notorious reign. Ejigbadero was also the chief executive of Jimsol Nigeria Limited, a company that specialised in nail manufacturing on Matori Road, Mushin in the 1970s. More importantly, as a land baron of note, he was dreaded for his shrewd disposition towards the ownership of land. He had sold land to a man simply known as Raji Oba in Alimosho but thereafter wanted the land back.
Ejigbadero came back home, changed into his resplendent dress and sprayed more noticeable cash again. Unfortunately for him, however, the deceased’s wife, Sabitiu had recognised him from where she was hiding when he committed the murder. He was subsequently arrested by the police and slammed with a two-count charge of murder. Ejigbadero’s alibi was that he never left the party, which dragged on from 6.30 p.m. till the wee hours of the morning of 23 August, 1975. From the High Court judgment of guilt and hanging by the neck, which was pronounced on him by Justice Ishola Oluwa, his appeal was presided over by Justices Mamman Nasir, Adetunji Ogunkeye and Ijeoma Aseme, down to the Supreme Court, where Justices Darnley Alexander, Atanda Fatayi-Williams, Ayo Irikefe, Mohammed Bello and Chukwunweike Idigbe held fort. On 22 October, 1978, Ejigbadero was found guilty and sentenced to death. A funny drama at the Supreme Court was that, as Justice Idigbe pronounced the lead judgment, being illiterate, Ejigbadero kept asking his lawyer, in conk Ibadan dialect, “Sowemimo, emi ni won so?” (“Sowemimo, what did the judge say?”).
popularly known as Dr Ishola,
hailed from Araromi in the Okitipupa area of Ondo State. Renowned for carjacking,
bank holdups and heists, Oyenusi, o
n 8 September, 1971,
with six other members of his gang, was executed.
With the certainty of tides,/Just like hopes springing high.”
The Lion of Ojiagu at 63
My ex-boss, former Governor of Enugu State and Senator representing Enugu East, Chimaroke Ogbonnia Nnamani will be 63 years on Tuesday. At different fora in the last 16 years, since I left Enugu State, many people have demanded that I avail them information on the chemistry that ensured I succeeded in working in the Coal City state. My submission is always that Nnamani protected me from the sharks of government, who you would find in every polity across the regions of Nigeria.
Nnamani helped cut my teeth in public service. Before Enugu, I was a mere theoretician who didn’t know that life existed outside the confines of theoretical postulations. He is a detribalised and ethnic-blind person to the core. I left my Imalefalafia, Oke-Ado, Ibadan office in 2003, contemplative of stereotypes about the Igbo man. One by one, those stereotypes collapsed, like the walls of Jericho. If I had been to the South-East before then, it was only a few times. My sojourn however afforded me a peep into the purity of the mind of an Igbo man and knowledge of virtually everywhere in Enugu State. With Nnamani, where I hailed from did not matter; it was my contributions that defined me.
At meetings when my colleagues naturally veered into discussing issues in their mother tongue, Nnamani would caution them: “Do you want Adedayo to think we want to sell him?” he would query and in his characteristic jocular manner, turn to me to ask when I would be marrying an Igbo lady, so that I could break the language barrier!
The height of it all was sometime in 2005, when he asked Osita Ugwuoti, of blessed memory, to hand over to me as head of the governor’s media team and his Special Adviser on Media. With Nnamani, your output, not your ethnicity, mattered. When we left office in 2007, he insisted that I must also go to the Senate with him, where he entrusted his finances in my care, without knowing, as the Yoruba say, the bird that laid my egg. When the world expressed shock that he queued behind Bola Tinubu in his quest for the presidency, rather than his kinsman, I saw a recreation of my Enugu experience in that equation. The Yoruba were in the core of his personal relationships as governor.
Nnamani is not your run-of-the-mill man. He requires hyper activity from anyone working with him. He’s is a tireless, boundless energy, whose type is rare among leaders.
Here is wishing the Lion of Ojiagu, Agbani, a very happy 63rd birthday.
Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.
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