The Phones No Longer Ring

By Reuben Abati

abati

As spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan, my phones rang endlessly and became more than personal navigators within the social space. They defined my entire life; dusk to dawn, all year-round. The phones buzzed non-stop, my email was permanently active; my twitter account received tons of messages per second.   The worst moments were those days when there was a Boko Haram attack virtually every Sunday.

The intrusion into my private life was total as my wife complained about her sleep being disrupted by phones that never seemed to stop ringing. Besides, whenever I was not checking or responding to the phones, I was busy online trying to find out if the APC had said something contrary  or some other fellow was up to any mischief.

A media manager in the 21st  century is a slave of the Breaking News, a slave particularly of the 24-hour news cycle, and a potential nervous breakdown case. Debo Adesina, my colleague at  The Guardian  once said I was running a “one week, one trouble schedule”. There were actually moments when trouble knocked on the door every hour, and duty required my team and I to respond to as many issues that came up.

Top of the task list was the management of phone calls related to the principal. In my first week on the job, for example, one of my phones ran out of battery and I had taken the liberty to charge it. While it was still in the off mode, the “Control Room”: the all-powerful communications centre at the State House tried to reach me. They had only just that phone number, so I couldn’t be reached. When eventually they did, the fellow at the other end was livid.

“SA Media, where are you? We have been trying to reach you. Mr President wants to speak with you”

“Sorry, I was charging my phone.   The phone was off.”

“Sir, you can’t switch off your phone now.  Mr President must be able to reach you at any time. You must always be available.”   I was like: “really? Which kin job be dis?”

The Control Room eventually collected all my phone numbers. If I did not pick up a call on time, they called my wife. Sometimes the calls came directly from the Residence, as we referred to the President’s official quarters.

“Abati, Oga dey call you!”

If I still could not be reached, every phone that was ever connected to me would ring non-stop. Busy bodies who had just picked up the information that Abati was needed also often took it upon themselves to track me down. My wife soon got used to her being asked to produce me, or a car showing up to take me straight to the Residence. I eventually got used to it, and learnt to remain on duty round-the-clock.

In due course, President Jonathan himself would call directly. My wife used to joke that each time there was a call from him, even if I was sleeping, I would spring to my feet and without listening to what he had to say, I would start with a barrage of “Yes sirs”!

Other calls that could not be joked with were calls from my own office. Something could come up that would require coverage, or there could be a breaking story, or it could be something as harmless as office gossip, except that in the corridors of power, nothing is ever harmless.

Looking back now, I still can’t figure out how I survived that onslaught of the terror of the telephone.

Of equal significance were the calls from journalists who wanted clarifications on issues of the moment, or the President’s opinion. I don’t need to remind anyone who lived in Nigeria during the period, that we had a particularly interesting time. The Jonathan government had to deal from the very first day with a desperate and hyper-negative opposition, which gained help from a crowd of naysayers who bought into their narrative. I was required to respond to issues. Bad news sells newspapers and attracts listeners/viewers. Everything had to be managed.  You knew something had happened as the phones rang, and the text messages, emails, twitter comments poured in. The media could not be ignored. Interfacing with every kind of journalist was my main task.  I learnt many lessons,  a subject for another day.  And the busy bodies didn’t make things easy.

If in 1980, the media manager had to deal with print and broadcast journalists, today, the big task is the dilemma of the over-democratization of media practice in the age of information. The question used to be asked in Nigerian media circles: who is a journalist? Attempts were subsequently made to produce a register of professionals but that is now clearly an illusion. The media of the 21st Century is the strongest evidence we have for the triumph of democracy. Everybody is a journalist now, once you can purchase a phone or a laptop, or an ipad and you can take pictures, set up a blog, or go on instagram, linked-in, viber etc.

All kinds of persons have earned great reputation as editors and opinion influencers on social media where you don’t have to make sense to attract followers. The new stars and celebrities are not necessarily the most educated or knowledgeable, but those who, with 140 words or less, or with a picture or a borrowed quote, can produce fast-food type public intellectualism, or can excite with a little display of the exotic -Kadarshian, Nicki Minaj style.  But I was obligated to attend to all calls. The ones who didn’t receive an answer complained about Abati not picking their calls.

My defence was that most editors in Nigeria have correspondents in the State House. Every correspondent had access to me. There was no way I could be accused of not picking calls, and in any case, there were other channels: instagram, twitter direct message, email, and media assistants who could interface with me. But this was the main challenge: while in public office, people treat you as if you are at their mercy, they threaten to sabotage you and get you sacked, every phone call was a request with a price attached, you get clobbered; you are treated like you had committed a crime to serve your nation. Relatives and privileged kinsmen struggled with you to do the job – media management is that one assignment in which everyone is an expert even if their only claim to relevance is that they once had an uncle who was a newspaper vendor!

The thinking that anyone who opts to serve is there to make money in that famous arena for primitive accumulation partly accounts for this. And that takes me to those phone calls from persons who solicited for financial help as if there was a tree at the Villa that produced money. Such people would never believe that government officials don’t necessarily have access to money. They wanted to be assisted: to pay school fees, to settle medical bills, to build a house, purchase a car, complete an uncompleted building, or link them up with the President. Everybody wanted a part of the national cake and they thought a phone call was all they needed.  If you offered any explanation, they reminded you that you’d be better off on the lecture circuit. Businessmen also hovered around the system like bees around nectar.

But what to do? “Volenti non fit injuria,” the principle says.  There were also calls from the unkind lot. “I have called you repeatedly, you did not pick my calls. I hope you know that you will leave government one day!”.  Or those who told you point blank that they were calling because you were in the position as their representative and that you owed them a living.  Or that other crowd who said, “it is our brother that has given you that opportunity, you must give us our share!”

The Presidential election went as it did, and everything changed. Days after,  State House became Ghost House. The Residence, which used to receive visitors as early as 6 am, (regular early morning devotion attendees) became quiet. The throng of visitors stopped. The number of phone calls began to drop. By May 29, my phones had stopped ringing as they used to. They more or less became museum pieces; their silence reminding me of the four years of my life that proved so momentous. On one occasion, after a whole day of silence, I had to check if the phones were damaged! As it were, a cynical public relates to you not as a person, but as the office you occupy; the moment you leave office, the people move on; erasing every memory, they throw you into yesterday’s dustbin.  Opportunism is the driver of the public’s relationship with public officials.

Today, the phones remain loudly silent, with the exception of calls from those friends who are not gloating, who have been offering words of commendation and support. They include childhood friends, former colleagues, elderly associates, fans, and family members. And those who want interviews with President Jonathan, both local and international – they want his reaction on every development, so many of them from every part of the planet. But he is resting and he has asked me to say he is not ready yet to say anything. It is truly, a different moment, and indeed, “no condition is permanent.”

The ones who won’t give up with the stream of phone calls and text messages are those who keep pestering me with requests for financial assistance. I am made to understand that there is something called “special handshake” and that everyone who goes into government is supposed to exit with carton loads of cash. I am in no position to assist such people, because no explanation will make sense to them. Here I am, at the crossroads; I am glad to be here

 

 

 

… And the beat stops for Anthony Ogbodo

• Hit-and-run driver sends The Guardian Sunday editor’s first son to early grave
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

TEN days ago, precisely November 17, sudden death took away 30-year-old Emokiniovo Anthony Ogbodo, first son of the editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Abraham Ogbodo.
It has been 10 days of anguish and numbness for the Ogbodo clan and it would take a couple of days, weeks, or maybe months more before life is restarted from where it was paused two Mondays ago.
The young man had traveled from Delta State that fateful Monday, arrived Lagos and put a call through to his mother. “I am already in Lagos and am coming home,” were the last words Mrs. Ogbodo will eternally recall whenever she thinks of Emokiniovo.
Painfully, fate had other plans, as it dealt a fatal blow that snuffed life out of the young man five minutes away from getting home.  He had crossed the busy Isheri-LASU highway to board a tricycle at Governor’s road to his father’s house in a nearby street in the area.
From that point on, he had less than an hour to live after a hit-and-run vehicle knocked him from behind. With his bag flung out of his grip, he fell headlong, hitting his head on the tarred road.
As blood trickled from his head, nose and mouth, he was left alone to bear his acute pain by bystanders and passersby for over 30 minutes until a Good Samaritan stopped, braved the hurdle of a police inquiry that had held back hundreds of onlookers, and evacuated the dying man to the nearest private facility, Unital Hospital. After a quick glance at his call log, the Ogbodos were contacted and given the tragic news.
Okpamwa Omovigho, the deceased’s uncle, who was by his side when Emokiniovo breathed his last, said it is one nightmare he is yet to wake up from. “It’s still very shocking, I can’t believe it. He was very kind; he loves his relatives and siblings dearly. He wasn’t given to things wild boys do, a very easygoing young man.”

Late Emokiniovo Anthony Ogbodo

Late Emokiniovo Anthony Ogbodo

Omovigho told The Guardian he was left on the scene because of fear of the hospital asking for police report. “He had a fatal head injury, it was that serious. We were asked to make a deposit of N30,000 before rescue effort could commence. For about 30 minutes, they were working on him seriously as blood was gushing from his nose. He lost a lot of blood in the process from the head and nose.
“At a time, they were trying to fix oxygen on him, but it didn’t work because blood was flowing into the pipe. When they couldn’t manage him again, they referred us to Igando General Hospital. As we were conveying him there, I noticed that he had given up but I was thinking maybe he fainted and he would be revived when we get to the general hospital.
“It was really painful there were no stretchers available to take him to the emergency ward in his condition. He was confirmed dead by the doctor that first saw him. We were directed to make a statement at the police station and policemen followed us back to the mortuary since the corpse was still with us. It was when we secured the police report that he was allowed into the mortuary.”
Things would never be the same again for the Ogbodos with the demise of the man known in the family circles as the grand organizer. He was the Go-To man, the Mr. Fix It. While many of the sympathizers believed if help had come his way and got an emergency care, the story might have been different, most people chorused that if God had not permitted it, it would not have happened at all.
In the words of the chief mourner, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo, “the boy was an exceptionally good spirit. As a father, I was anxious, I thought he was not moving fast enough, but he has his own way of doing things. He would never come to a place and will not be loved by all because of the kindheartedness he exhibited.

AB2“I cannot recall any incident that he fought with anybody, not even his brother. He was an apostle of non-violence. He was so selfless and what I saw in him was leadership. He was my grand organizer. If he were around, he would be the one to fix things in the house or call the people to get things done and send me the bill if he cannot handle it alone. He would be the last person to sleep to ensure everything is in place and in order and the first to wake. That was his life. He would deny himself to make others happy.
“He was the one that would pack clothes and give to our domestic staff and neighbours. I had him when I was very young; in the year I entered university. Because I didn’t believe in people pushing their CVs around and wasting their productive years, I had advised him that after school, he should start looking for a business to do. He came back to me and said he wants to venture into events management and was already undergoing a Postgraduate skills to fully equip himself for the business.
“The last time I saw this boy was in September during my vacation. I had gone to deliver a lecture at English and Literary department of Delta State University, he came and we spoke. That was the last time, I never saw him again and I didn’t have the courage to look at the body before he was buried.”
Baby of the house and the deceased’s sister, Lucia Ogbodo, said she would miss her brother’s hospitality. “He was a nice person and a free giver. Once he had, he tried to help others. I will miss him dearly. I just heard the news on Thursday. They actually didn’t tell me from school until when I was asked to come home. While in school though, I was informed he had an accident.”
She added that in the few days since coming to terms with the news of Anthony’s death, a lot has changed. “It’s a whole lot. I just feel something is missing in my life; something has been taken away. I feel incomplete without him being around.”
As it was with late Dimgba Igwe, former Vice Chairman of the Sun Newspaper, so it was with Emokiniovo Ogbodo. The unending incidence of hit-and-run victims underscores the failings of governance. If there were CCTV cameras fitted round Lagos, that killer-driver would not have gone unnoticed.

Abraham Ogbodo, Editor, The Guardian on Sunday

Abraham Ogbodo, Editor, The Guardian on Sunday

At 30, Emokiniovo’s flame has been snuffed out. Suddenly! Yet all his grand parents (maternal and paternal) are still alive and kicking. The pain of Emokiniovo’s father is the speed with which everything was concluded. It was so fast. It was like a high-movie tragedy.
“It was so breathtaking that I didn’t even have time to intervene as the father. I had just left the office when I was first informed of the accident and by the time I was close to home, I was advised not to come to the general hospital again. At that point, I knew the end had come for my boy.
“It was not a case of finance being an issue and we needed to mobilize funds if need be to take him out of the country in an air ambulance for intensive care. It wasn’t a case of that. It is so sad that an opportunity was not given to intervene. It was clinically concluded, but we have attributed it to God because if God didn’t want it to happen, He would have created some channels of intervention to save the boy.
“As human beings, we cannot know everything, it is only God that knows the end from the beginning. You can only get to know the implications of certain things that happen to you in the fullness of time. The irony is that nobody lives till the fullness of time. Could it be that in time to come, this boy could be so much of a burden to himself and the family or community that you will wish he is dead?
“But you cannot say now because you cannot get to know that unless you have a special privilege like John the Beloved, who God showed a revelation of the end time. If God plays the video of the life cycle of the boy that just died, and we saw the reason God took him, that is when one will be consoled but because you may not get to know that, you will just feel pained as humans. The statement by Paul to the Romans that in all things, we give thanks to God is, however, sufficient for me,” Abraham concluded.

Alex Fadipe… The regretful trajectory

• Two months after lawyer was killed in his house, doubts heighten as police vacillate on investigation
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Late Alex Fadipe

Late Alex Fadipe

There are over a thousand ways to die, one of which definitely is the body’s loss of blood. This was, however, the last thing on Olakunle Alex Fadipe’s mind on Thursday, July 3, 2014, the day he breathed his last after he received an unwelcome guest, Oluwaseun Kadri Oladapo, late at night in his home at Adeleke Odunuga street, Ifako Ijaiye.
It was a very dark cold evening and the clocks were striking twenty-three hours. Fadipe, a lawyer and visiting member of The Guardian editorial board, had returned from his chamber an hour earlier, his hands full with his briefcase containing his laptop and some sensitive files, plus a stack of the day’s dailies, which included his famous delight, The Guardian.
As expected, there was electricity downtime that kept many parts of Harmony Estate, Ifako Ijaiye in pitch darkness. Without being told, his first son ran downstairs to switch on the generating set. Fadipe looked obviously tired but there was still one task left to be done before the day would be finally over; that would wait until after dinner.
He was in the middle of reflecting on the day’s activities and his schedule of duty for the next day when Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) restored power. Again, his son had to make a quick dash downstairs to switch off the generating set and reconnect to the national grid.
Inside, Fadipe stared absent-mindedly at the television screen when he was suddenly jolted first by a snapping sound, then a combination of rushing wind and cries arising from sheer terror. In a space of a few short minutes, he witnessed the most unlikely robbery attack he has ever heard of.
It was a lone robber, whose only instrument of terror was a knife and with it, he barked instructions to the household of five, his word became law. Everything he asked for was provided; money, jewelries, other valuables and in fact a cup of water.
It was therefore against the run of action for the suspected assassin to have faced Alex Fadipe and stab him. The last thing he remembered was the unknown assailant rushing towards him brandishing a knife after overpowering his son.
For a split second, he was lifted off his feet and suspended in midair. Then gravity took over. Adrenaline surged through his body and his grip tightened on the assailant, vigorously trying to inflict his own damage and dispossess the intruder of his weapon. He was buoyed on by the rallying support of his family members.
But unknown to him, his body had received a fatal plunge from the assailant’s knife. By this time, it was too late for Fadipe to defend his territory. He felt weak, teeth clenched together, barely breathing, and all he could do was to desperately hang on. He fell on his back in a pool, smelt his own blood and slowly but in acute pain, the end came.

The assailant, Oluwaseun Kadri Oladapo

The assailant, Oluwaseun Kadri Oladapo

As a lawyer, Fadipe, 50, was one of the best. Well educated and very well read, his depth of knowledge was impressive. Not for him the grandiloquence for its own sake that masks the emptiness of many lawyers’ arguments nor the pedestrian submissions that is the signature of the unlearned. Fadipe was deep.
A purist, especially in matters of the law, injustice, for him, began with obfuscation of issues. Hence he was always clear in his submissions and insisted on clarity from others.
He was a brilliant lawyer and a very articulate one for that matter. To say he loved the law would be an understatement, for it was not just a job but also a calling for him. He believed in it as the only tool with which injustice can be fought and a truly thriving nation built.
He was capable of holding his own in the midst of the best in the profession, not the least because he had had the best of breeding and education. After a degree from the University of Lagos, where he was President of the Law Society and his call to the Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School where he was the Secretary General of the Students Council, Fadipe received his practical training under the late irrepressible Gani Fawehinmi and went on to become the head of the chambers of the late TOS Benson.
He once served as a Federal Commissioner in the National Human Rights Commission where he did his best to improve the lots of fellow Nigerians and also make the nation’s prisons as well as other places of detention truly reformatory.
Fadipe loved his country and wrote passionately about the ills afflicting Nigeria. He was total in his commitment to the nation’s unity, unwavering in his faith that Nigeria could be great and diligent at every opportunity to do his own bit.
He was eternally denied the honour of being the head of his family and father to his three children, as well as the pleasure of reading his last op-ed piece published in The Guardian of the next day, Friday July 4, titled: A Justice Delivery System So Unfriendly.
Without any premonition, it was the last epistle he shared with the world. How prophetic; how could he have known he was predicting his own fate. With 60 days gone since that gruesome murder, justice is yet to be served with the initial step of a police arraignment for the suspect.
The opening paragraph of the final epistle reads: “There are two major reasons among several others why our judicial system requires a declaration of emergency. First is the length of time an average case takes in court before judgment. This is a notorious fact that requires no expatiation. No case, however, simple or trivial takes less than two years to run its full course. The simplest of all cases, shorn of technicalities and excessive legalism by their nature are landlord and tenant matters, which are principally in the domain of the magistrates’ court except in few cases.”
This subject matter would immediately strike a chord among millions of Lagosians, where in most instances, the search for a roof over one’s head could be akin to looking for a pin in a haystack. Fadipe continued: “Because our laws frown at self-help, every landlord who desires to recover possession from his tenant for whatever reason is expected to initiate ejection proceedings at the magistrates’ court.
“In some cases, the need to recover possession may be traceable to tenant’s default to pay his rent, which may have accrued sometimes for upward of six months and in some cases for well over a year. Landlord’s effort to regain possession gets frustrated by the duration of proceedings, which can easily be described as adding salt to injury.
“A man who is owed arrears of rent is now made to spend as much as over a year in court to recover a single room apartment, which the defaulting tenant sees as a respite considering that for as long as the suit lasts, he is immune from payment of rent. At the end of it all, he may walk away with huge sums of money in terms of rent arrears.”

The widow, Kemi Fadipe

The widow, Kemi Fadipe

Painfully for the family, while preparation was in top gear to commute his body to mother earth, Barrister Fadipe’s mother-in-law, who witnessed the incident, passed away on July 16. She died as a result of the shock and trauma of her son-in-law’s gruesome killing. She will be buried in October, according to the family.
Presently, it is difficult to speculate or impute motives into the incident. No task is more arduous than attempting to answer the question ‘Why?’ As a lawyer of repute, searchlight will naturally be beamed on the risk factor of his vocation.
A source at the Fadipe chamber confirmed to The Guardian that there is no case they are currently handling or recently concluded that could generate so much hate to the extent of someone wanting to take Fadipe’s life.
“But you can never tell with humans. You can never know the intention of man. Even if the suspect confesses to assassination, it could even be because of one trivial matter that doesn’t make sense. Even when we were handling difficult cases, nothing happened,” the source informed.
Contrary to speculations that Fadipe was on the trail of a highly sensitive matter at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the chamber noted that they presently do not have any case with the EFCC. “We have concluded the ones we were handling.”
Attempts to glean information on the concluded cases with the EFCC met a brick wall at the chamber and from the commission’s head office in Abuja. The Guardian’s check at the legal department of the EFCC turned up no record of the late Fadipe.
However, while the public awaits police official inquest into Fadipe’s death two months after, The Guardian’s investigations leads to a possible assassination of the human rights activist.
When he was arrested by the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) before being handed over to the police, he said he resides in Abeokuta and that he was a wanderer; making a living as a carpenter and only came to Lagos to look for money, but in a chat with The Guardian, he confessed to living in Fagba, at Iju Ishaga area of Lagos, which is not far from Fadipe’s office and residence.
It was further revealed that prior before the time he committed the crime, he lived behind the late lawyer’s office, so he knows Lawyer Fadipe very well. He was easily recognizable to people living around the chamber as soon as he was arrested.

Fadipe children (in white) looking dejected at the burial of their father

Fadipe children (in white) looking dejected at the burial of their father

According to the OPC, he squatted with another friend, named Bayo at Olufemi Ajayi street, directly behind the chamber. That Bayo is now at large.
Furthermore, the motorcycle, which the suspect used that night, is still where it was parked two months after. In Harmony Estate, motorcycles are not allowed to ply at night, it is only tricycles, popularly known as Keke Napep that operates in the estate.
The suspect parked the bike he used not too far from the entrance to the estate. “As we speak, the bike is still there. It is curious that the suspect claimed to be wandering, but considering the distance of Fadipe’s house to the estate gate, it pulls wool over his claim,” one of the deceased’s relative informed.
“Our house is not the best in the estate, our fence is one of the highest and the gate is always locked, so he could not have sauntered in if he wasn’t on a mission. He knows his target and he got what he wanted.
“All details point to assassination. It might come in form of a robbery but it is not robbery. His name is Kadri and not Seun. He gave Seun to the police. His landlady confirmed Kadri has been a troublemaker. Behind our office where he has been squatting, they know him as Agba.
“It is funny how the police will base its investigations on the statements of the suspect, who has given three different names, has different identities and claimed to have lived in three different places within a short space of time. The conclusion of such investigation cannot be trusted.”
Fadipe’s family and lawyers at his chamber have reasons to doubt police genuineness in resolving the murder case, considering its legendary reputation of pussyfooting around even in high profile and unresolved murder cases.
Ogunbayo Ayanlola Ohu, popularly known as Bayo Ohu, was murdered in cold blood on September 20, 2009 by unknown gunmen. Five assailants were said to have attacked him, stealing his laptop and mobile phone.
Ohu, until his death, worked as the Assistant News Editor of The Guardian. Till date, Ohu’s killers are yet to be found by the Nigerian Police.
Another unresolved gruesome killing in the history of Lagos is that of Chief Funsho Williams, a gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Williams was killed on July 27, 2006 at his Dolphin Estate home in Ikoyi.
Six accused persons charged with murder were recently set free by the Lagos High Court for lack of evidence.
In the Fadipe case, the matter is yet to be filed at any court two months after.
Lawyers at his chamber, two weeks ago, met with the state’s Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Ade Ipaye, to intimate him on latest development.
He promised to call for the case file as soon as the police make its submission, to enable his office look into it and proffer their legal advice on the matter.

The house where the assailant lived

The house where the assailant lived

A highly placed police officer at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in Panti, Yaba, in one breath, explained away police’s inability to arraign the suspect in court.
“Even if the guy confesses to assassination, the deed has been done, Fadipe has been killed and the result of the investigation cannot bring him back to life. At the moment, he is not fit for court. The case would be arraigned once he is declared fit by the police hospital in Falomo, where he is kept under watch.”
A clue police investigators would find useful is the fact that there had been a previous attempt on Fadipe’s life some years ago. Five armed robbers attacked him in the office and shot him on the leg but the bullet did not penetrate inside the bone.
During that incident, he was alone. Everybody had closed for the day, while he stayed back to do some work in the office. When they attempted several times to shoot him in the chest, the trigger couldn’t fire. They gunmen finally shot him in the leg out of frustration when their aim at his chest failed.
According to a source at the chamber, “we started thinking about that incident and it occurred to us that the guy that came alone that night came only with a knife. The person that sent him might have been aware of the previous attempt on his life and warned the suspect not to carry out the assignment with a gun because they must have assumed that Fadipe was protected by magical powers, known as juju.
“If he had not done his home work well, why would he attempt to take a human life relying only on a knife? You dare not take the risk of entering into someone’s house to hold them to ransom without a gun. He had done his work well thinking it is only Lawyer Fadipe, his wife, a relative and his two little kids that were at home, not knowing that the first son came back from campus on Sunday the week the incident occurred.
“Whenever the first son is around, you hardly see him because he rarely go out. The suspect never knew another male was at home, because when the first son went out to switch off the generating set, he actually assumed it was Lawyer Fadipe, which explains why he attempted to stab the young man on the neck. He was, however, lucky to be alive because it wasn’t a deep cut.”
Sadly, a few days before the incident, precisely June 26, another of Fadipe’s sons had a dream where his father was killed in an accident. There was never any premonition that the deceased would be murdered in his own house and before his children.
It has been 60 days of distraught for Mrs. Kemi Fadipe. What she witnessed on the night of July 3 would be so hard to erase, not even in her rare moments of pleasure going forward.
She has never grown weary of repeating herself to investigators and journalists that her husband’s killer was a professional killer, insisting that a thief would not stab her husband the way he was stabbed even after money and other valuable items the assailant demanded had been given to him.
What would only alleviate pains of the inconsolable loss is justice to avenge the death of the human rights activist.
“We don’t still know the mission of my husband’s killer up till now. What I want the government to do is to help me find out what the killer actually wanted, because we offered the money he demanded and we were about giving the laptop he asked for when he stabbed my husband to death. He is not a robber.

The assailant's landlady, Alhaja Afolabi Kikelomo

The assailant’s landlady, Alhaja Afolabi Kikelomo

“I thought he was a robber, but when I saw the way he was stabbing my husband, I said it was only a professional killer that could act that way. He was even ready to kill anyone, who stops him from carrying out his mission. The way he was asking for things, he was too much in a hurry and he was not patient at all. He was asking for too many things at the same time. His mission was to come and kill.
“Although I did not have any premonition before his death, but my son had a dream that his father was killed in an accident on June 26. He saw his father in a pool of his blood. After he told us about this dream, my husband, who was supposed to travel on June 24 to return on June 26, decided not to make the journey that period because of what my son told him.
“I miss everything about my husband. I miss his comfort, his care. He was a good man and a good father. My only request is that government and the Nigeria Police should help us get justice so that my husband would not die in vain,” she said.
The first son of the late lawyer recounted how his father was killed: “I went outside to switch off the generator since the PHCN had restored power. Suddenly, someone held me with a knife; I over-powered him. Thinking there were many of them, I ran inside and shouted, ‘thief’ thief.’ My dad asked him to calm down and asked what he wanted. He said he wanted N500,000 with a laptop.
“My dad told him he did not have up to N500,000 at home, but he brought out some money and gave him. As my daddy tried to go downstairs to get the laptop, he hit my dad and stabbed him. All of us attacked him and tried to overpower him. Immediately, we called the members of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) at our main gate. When the OPC people arrived, they captured him and handed him over to the police.”
Sixty days after, the Fadipe chamber has moved on without him. One thing is certain, there would be no part of his will proscribe the chamber and winding down of his legacy like it happened to the reputed Gani Fawehinmi chambers.
Work has since resumed in August after a few weeks closure in July to mourn Alex. As usual, clients have been visiting the chamber even though there is no much activity because the courts are presently on vacation.
On the homefront, it has not been easy but the Fadipe clan is gradually adjusting to post-Alex Fadipe era. It is taking a lot of effort from the young man expected to step into his late father’s shoes, particularly since he witnessed first-hand his dad’s dying moments.
He saw it all, from the physical combat in their living room, turned battle ground all the way to the hospital theatre where a last ditch effort was made to resuscitate Alex.
Thankfully, he is coming out gradually; same for his mum, who in two weeks, almost got her life shattered with the loss, first of a heartthrob, and thirteen days later, forever missing the comfort of a dear mother to lean on.

Encounter with Fadipe’s killer at Police Hospital, Falomo

ODITA SUNDAY, The Guardian’s senior crime reporter caught up with Oluwaseun Kadri Oladapo, the killer of Alex Fadipe at the Police Hospital, where he is receiving treatment for wounds sustained at the scene of the murder

How are you doing now?
I am getting better, but I am still feeling pains seriously on my leg.
How did you find your way into the lawyer’s house?
When I arrived the estate that night, it was only their compound that had light, there was total blackout in other places. On that fateful day, I went to the man’s house, jumped the fence and found myself in the compound. The power generating set was on, so I waited patiently because I know that the Power Holding Company would soon restore power.
Immediately the light was restored, the man’s son came outside and I attacked him. He began to drag the knife with me, so he was injured in the process and I was also injured too. I entered into the house immediately and demanded for N500,000. The man said he has no such money but he offered me money in an envelope. It was his wife who gave me the money.
What do you want to do with the laptop you asked them to give you?
I requested for telephones and laptop, they gave me telephones but they said there are no laptops. I was about to leave when the man’s wife held my clothes. It was at that juncture everyone in the house descended on me and was shouting ‘don’t let him go! Don’t let him go!’ They hit my head with a glass cup, table stool and other objects, so I could not escape.
Why did you kill Fadipe?
I did not know whom I used the knife on and whom I did not use it on because I was struggling for survival to escape. The security people asked me if I was the only one, I said yes. I do this kind of things before but not always. I go into people’s compound and steal telephones and money. It was the knife I took from their kitchen that I used to do the killing. I was overpowered and the knife I came with got bent and it was taken from me. It was later in this hospital I was told that the man I killed is IG’s lawyer; it was then I realized I am in big trouble.
Where do you live?
I live at No 20 Oladitoun Street, Fagba, Lagos.
But you told the lawyer’s family members and the police that you came from Abeokuta?
I use to live with my sister in Abeokuta, but I don’t live there anymore. It was my condition that made me say I live in Abeokuta; I was in a confused state when they shot me.
What is your real name?
My name is Oluwaseun Kadri Oladapo
Are you married?
I am not married
Do you have parents?
My father is late but my mum and my other siblings live in Ondo State. I am a native of Ogun State but I was born and raised in Lagos.
What legitimate business are you into?
I am an aluminum window technician.
Why did you leave your business to face crime?
I traveled to South Africa in 2011 and I was sent back. I am 24 years old.
Tell us who sent you to kill him?
No one sent me to kill him, if anyone had sent me, I will reveal the person because the pain is too much for me. I did not want to kill him, I only came for money.
I hope you know that you killed an influential lawyer?
I never knew him very well; it was when I started recovering that I was told I killed the IG’s lawyer.
Why is it that it was Fadipe’s house in the whole of that estate you could enter?
That was the only place where there was light. All other houses did not put on their generator.
How do you feel now that you have killed someone?
I am really unhappy and I don’t know what to say.

Esther, the Nigerian dress, makes history at the Smithsonian

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

The dress on display in Lagos

The dress on display in Lagos

American fashion icon, Ralph Lauren, who built a global multi-billion dollar enterprise, when asked the secret of his fame, once responded with a quip: “I don’t design clothes; I design dreams.” This is the statement Patience Torlowei, an artist from Nigeria and a specialist in the textile sector, has brought to life with her stunning dress, Esther.
Simply known among friends and associates as Patience, the founder of Patience Please, the first registered lingerie manufacturer in Nigeria, has caught global attention with Esther, her rave-making special piece of art that has berthed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
Esther is an encapsulated story of the struggles and pain of the Niger Delta; and more importantly, illustrates the power of hope and of one person to change the world by giving people hope.
The dress itself, is a stunning silk ball gown designed and hand painted by Ms. Torlowei. History was made when Esther became the first item of high fashion to be ever requested by the Smithsonian as a permanent exhibit.
However, before making its final journey to Smithsonian, Esther was hosted to a send-off cocktail party in Lagos and unveiled at the weekend before a select distinguished audience at the Metropolitan Club.

Foremost Accountant, Akintola Williams, the designer, Patience Torlowei at a send-off reception for Esther  in Lagos at the weekend.

Foremost Accountant, Akintola Williams, the designer, Patience Torlowei at a send-off reception for Esther in Lagos at the weekend.

Before unveiling the spectacle that has launched Nigeria at the biggest home for arts collection, distinguished nonagenarian, Mr. Akintola Williams, was full of praise for Esther. To him, there could be no better way to remold Nigeria’s battered image.

“This special piece of art making deserves our support. On August 3, she will be leaving our dear country to become a part of the Smithsonian Institute’s permanent collection as the first piece of high fashion ever to have been accepted by the Museum of African Art,” Mr. Williams explained.

“In light of Nigeria’s current image on the world stage, it is clear to me that such high and unique achievement as Esther deserve our support and our acknowledgement of this feat by a Nigerian designer and artist, who has made a mark in a significant moment of our country’s history,” he added to a rousing cheer.

Like all of life’s greatest stories, which would always be incomplete without the tinge of pain and sadness, the story of Esther, was narrated by her designer, Patience, in a stirring address that moved the audience almost to tears.

All men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers and it was this special dream that Patience rescued from the brink of botch, which has now deservedly earned her an international acclaim.

Evelyn Oputu, Patience and Abba Folawiyo

Evelyn Oputu, Patience and Abba Folawiyo

“We all go through life looking for a way to leave our own personal mark on the world. Some live their lives never discovering how they can do this, but I was, however, lucky enough to find my tools to leave my mark in the world of art and fashion,” Patience said to a stilled audience, which was already hanging on to her words.

“When things want to happen in life you have to prepare for them, you must go through the required fire. I came to Nigeria in 2009 with a heavy heart, a heart to change my country, to make a mark and Nigeria a hub for under-garment manufacturing, the first in Africa. I know I have to be refined, but I am grateful I met a few people who pulled me through that difficult moment of my life.

“One of the people I met that dusted me up and led me the distance is Ms. Evelyn Oputu. I remember what Oputu once said to me, ‘Patience, why are you so much talented; you are the best designer I can think of, how come it is not putting food on the table for you?’ It got me thinking hard and long on why I returned to Nigeria. I cried my eyes out and asked myself why did I come to Nigeria to be wretched. I was doing well in Europe.”

Dress4   Unknown to Patience, her name turned out to be a virtue, a bitter pill she had to chew. With such encouragement from the former Bank of Industry Managing Director, Patience picked herself up and once again dusted the tatters of her dream.

“I did a work for Oputu. She called me and told me I have to make her a dress for an event the next day in Abuja. So, I stayed up all through the night to get the dress ready and deliver it in the morning. Later the next day, she called me to say, ‘Patience, expect some calls.’ I didn’t worry about that any more, I was prepared to move back to Europe.

“I had started packing my bag when I got a call to be at a place where an event was being held for children. Incidentally, the jacket I wore resembled the one I made for Oputu, which according to her, caused a distraction while she was delivering her speech. Apparently, this dress was that good and they wanted to know who made it.

“One of the people I made it for went back to America and I got a call few weeks later, ‘Patience, what did you do to this dress you sewed? People have not stopped talking about it and even children are acknowledging me. I have never worn any thing in my entire life that has got me so noticed and it fits me like glove.’ That made my day, but there was more to come.

Evelyn Oputu, Patience and Maiden Alex Ibru

Evelyn Oputu, Patience and Maiden Alex Ibru

“She wore the dress to New York, it was to the Smithsonian Institute conference and everyone wanted to know where she got it from. Coincidentally, they were marking a fashion show for an ongoing exhibition and I was selected. I was given a date for this event in August shortly after my mum had passed away in July.

“Eventually the exhibition with the theme ‘Earth Matters’ was held in February and there were eight exhibitors from Africa; I was the only one from Nigeria. The other designers had sponsorships from their countries, four were presidential sponsorships, I had no one to sponsor me. I had to go with my meager sum but I love what I was doing.

“I chose to do something about Africa, with stories covering Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, South Africa and Nigeria. When I came up on stage, there was silence in the hall, followed by uproar and a standing ovation. Others were bidden goodbye from the exhibition, I was asked to stay back.” And that began Patience’s journey to stardom.

“I started to get media interviews because of this dress; they wanted to know the value of the dress so they could buy it; but instead I offered to donate it to the museum. I named her Esther, because of my mother. All this happened to me just after she died.”

The Smithsonian Institute, established in 1846 is a group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government. It has an eclectic holding of 137 million items, a nucleus of 19 museums, nine research centers and a zoo.

Dress6Esther’s designer, Patience has a factory based in Lagos and her design label produces quality lingerie to compliment a woman’s inner beauty and self-respect. She launched her first line in 2006 with Patience Torlowei BVBA, a bridal wear company.

Within two years, the brand has supplied wedding and cocktail dresses to over six countries in Europe alone. In 2008, the company added lingerie to its offerings because of the lack of wedding lingerie available to budding brides. This was further pushed by Patience’s personal love for exquisite underwear.

With a high demand coming from all over Europe for Patience Torlowei designs, she looked to Nigeria, her home country, for production, giving back to a country fighting to join the first world. By educating young unemployed people and giving consideration to the environmental, social and corporate governance issues, she has helped create a sustainable and responsible business that yields returns to a lot of young people.

Among the audience that saw off Esther to the Smithsonian included such fashion afficonado as Abba Folawiyo, Maiden Alex-Ibru, Lilian Unachukwu, Seni Williams, among many others.

Bidding Esther goodbye and ending the night of glitz, Prof. Pat Utomi, thanked the designer, for her masterpiece and wished her well in her future endeavours.

 

 

 

 

Return of ‘Koro’: A rejoinder

By Musiliu Obanikoro

I read the piece written by Mr. Tope Templer Olaiya on the Greater Lagos section of The Guardian Newspaper of Thursday February 20, 2014 on page 14 titled: “Return of ‘Koro’” and decided it is important to set certain records straight compared to how they were painted in the piece.

   I am particularly worried that as much as Mr. Olaiya attempted to sound balanced on his analysis of the implications of my appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the partisan politics in Lagos State, he largely represents my person as a promoter of election violence and I am compelled to reject such representation.

   First, it didn’t come as a shock to me that my appointment is causing uneasiness in some quarters, especially when it is seen as a political calculation to strengthen the opposition to the way and manner the affairs of Lagos State are being managed. For those with the mindset to conceive a larger picture, my appointment offers Lagos State an opportunity to command the representation it deserves in the National Executive Cabinet. It was based on excellent and impressive performance in my previous engagements in the service of my fatherland.

   There are indications that I have utilized such opportunities in the past to raise the profile of Lagos State to a new level in relation to excellence of ideas, and the pursuit of greater good of Nigeria. My interest at all times- and this appointment offers another opportunity, is to work with willing and positive Lagosians and Nigerians to better the lots of my people. 

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Secondly, it was abhorrent to read from the piece a reecho of the ritualization of our political culture by a supposed All Progressive Congress (APC) stalwart, that I swore to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at the Holy ‘Kaaba’ in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, that I will ‘not go anywhere’- referring to my defection to the PDP as a Senator. For the records, I do not engage in such kind of repugnant activity. My political poise is based on sound ideology and my leanings shift when the walls become slippery.

 

   The piece again reechoed another supposed APC chieftain labeling my campaigns as ‘always violent’. He cited the 2007 Oregun incidence when my campaign train was attacked by the opposition to draw credibility to this argument. The one sided nature of the report did little justice to my person. For the record, my campaign train did not attack itself on that fateful day. It was a well-orchestrated plan by the party in power in Lagos State that was struggling to hang on to power, to discredit my campaign organization. That is obvious from the continuing use of the same incident to malign me today.

 

   I am a family man with strong family values. I have been married for 35 unbroken years and managed a family I am proud to say, is a successful one. I have raised children amongst who are successful graduates in different human endeavours and who are already contributing positively to their fatherland. These values are arguably not that of a man that can be described as violent. I doubt if these individuals labeling me as violent can parade such credentials in their personal lives.

 

   The same elements are perhaps hyping a pretentious Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) recruitments allegedly aimed at training certain youths for election purposes in 2015 by my party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Since FERMA had strongly disclaimed such activities under its guise, it is better to waive it aside as the restless antics of an unsecured group and individuals. The Lagos State Government controls enough security apparatuses to stem any suspicious act of violence as it is being brewed within its jurisdiction, if it fails in its responsibility, it should not lay the blame on the doorstep of the Federal Government or the PDP in the bid to score political points.

 

   I would like to conclude this response by offering a little advice to the writer of the piece that necessitated my response. The hallmark of the fourth estate of the realm is the production of balanced reporting that adds significant values to the lives of the readers. Your respected role is to provide a mirror for leaders and followers to view and review themselves without adding blemishes that are controversially painted by your pen. In this particular piece, you have consciously or unconsciously did that to my person. What I seek are positive suggestions and advices as well as your prayers on the roles that fortune bestows on me to serve Nigeria. 

 

Muanya is newspaper journalist of 2013, Ojo best education reporter

A CORRESPONDENT with The Guardian, Chukwuma Muanya, has emerged the newspaper journalist of the year. This was disclosed at the 2013 Nigeria Media Merit Award held on Saturday in Ikogosi, Ekiti State.
Another journalist with The Guardian, Olawunmi Ojo, won the Ibrahim Shekarau Prize for Education Reporter of the year. Ojo’s “Yaba ‘University’ of Technology: A dream in limbo” gave him the award.
Muanya won the Ernest Sisei Ikoli for Newspaper Reporter of the Year and Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year.
His story “Deaths from measles drop, anti-malaria project threatened”, beat The Nation and National Mirror to win the coveted Ernest Sisei Ikoli Prize for Newspaper Reporter of the Year. Muanya again defeated the TELL’s duo of Adejuwon Soyinka and Mordi Raymond to win the Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year with the story “When ignorance, ill-equipped hospitals complicate breast cancers in Nigeria.”
The Guardian also did well in other individual awards, narrowly losing the News Photographer of the Year to Sunday Olufemi of TELL. Ayodele Adeniran Olushola and Emmanuel Arewa of The Guardian were the first and second runners-up in that category.

Winner of Education Reporter of the Year, Ojo Abiodun Olawunmi (right), Editor, Martins Oloja; Head, South West Bureau, Muyiwa Adeyemi; runner-up, Agricultural Reporter of the Year and Real Estate/Construction Reporter of the Year, Temitope Templer Olaiya; and runner-up, News Photographer of the year, Ayodele Adeniran Shola, all of The Guardian at the Nigeria Media Merit Award held in Ado Ekiti at the weekend.

Winner of Education Reporter of the Year, Ojo Abiodun Olawunmi (right), Editor, Martins Oloja; Head, South West Bureau, Muyiwa Adeyemi; runner-up, Agricultural Reporter of the Year and Real Estate/Construction Reporter of the Year, Temitope Templer Olaiya; and runner-up, News Photographer of the year, Ayodele Adeniran Shola, all of The Guardian at the Nigeria Media Merit Award held in Ado Ekiti at the weekend.

Also, the Assistant Lagos City Editor, Temitope Templer Olaiya, finished first runner-up in two categories namely Bukola Saraki Prize for Agriculture Reporter of the Year and Nigerite Prize for Real Estate/Construction Reporter of the Year with the stories “Mile 12 Market and the ugly story of food waste” and “Jakande Estates: A lofty idea crippled by neglect.”

At the event which attracted leaders of the media industry, The Nation was declared winner of the Babatunde Jose Prize for Newspaper of the Year while Channels Television won the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Award for Electronic Media.

Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi described the nation’s media as a vital tool of peace and development.

The governor, who lauded the media practitioners for their courage and untiring efforts, said: “Yours is a profession charged with the noble responsibility of informing and enlightening the public and carrying out oversight of the social and political processes of the society.

“The Nigerian press has come of age as the beacon of hope and renewal in our national experience.

“Despite the various challenges that appear to have come to bear upon it in more recent times, the Nigerian media has always been at the progressive vanguard of an ethos that continually seeks to advance and preserve the cause of our society, its systems and the institutions from its earliest incarnation to the present.

“I have equally observed, first-hand, how a vibrant and  effective, particularly print media, can crusade against injustice and lend its weight behind the cause of truth, whilst advocating the best for the good of the people.

“This has been the honourable tradition upon which the media has thrived through the years in our environment.

“Being the only formal institution granted an oversight function on government, its activities, organs and departments in the Nigerian Constitution through several decades, the media has a very sacred role in enabling the attainment of the Nigeria of our aspirations…

“The Nigeria Media Merit Award is considered as one of the most reputable prizes for media excellence in our country, instituted by some of the great veterans of the Nigerian press to encourage and reward distinction in the practice of journalism, while promoting a symbiotic relationship between the media industry and the society…”

Recalling his role during the military era as a broadcaster at Radio Kudirat, he said: “I have always considered myself as a student and practitioner of journalism having had a stint both in print and electronic media…”

Describing the NMMA as a celebration of media excellence in the country, he said: “It is a celebration of remarkable openness that our country has achieved where journalists can carry out their duties to some extent without the fear of intimidation.

“Three years ago, you probably wouldn’t have considered coming to Ekiti. It is no longer a state of one week one trouble. Stability is the rule of the game now in Ekiti State. Evidence of our work abounds in our infrastructural drive.”

 

Paul Oloko: Camera As Institution

By Armsfree Ajanaku

Paul Oloko

Paul Oloko

AS journalists constantly in hunt for the news, there are many important moments that the limitations of time and space do not allow us to capture. Invariably, those moments fizzle into oblivion, where memory may attempt some indifferent sketch. Some of those are the moments of our own personal stories and experiences as they relate to the exact nature and dimension of what we do.

Being in the vortex of a daily attempt to capture the complexities of human engagements within the constraints of time and space tends to blunt the tapestries of our own involvement. This is accentuated by the fact that the objectivity required by our calling compels us to maintain some distance from the fray.

So the reality is that the journalist cannot objectively provide accurate and compelling accounts about the cauldron that is society, if he is right inside it. What tends to get lost as a result of this supposition, are the nuggets of our personal experiences, especially as peripatetic professionals helping society to catch a quick glimpse of its reality.

As such, because the reporter is supposed to maintain some objective distance and not become an intruder in the flow process of information, our personal stories on the beat, including the heroics, the struggles and the triumphs tend not to make the pages.

Albeit unaccounted for, some of these stories are about daring, almost foolhardy acts in our quest to ensure real facts are laid before our audience. Fact, which would invariable lead to the establishment of the truth within a universal context, is the province of the journalist. In pursuit of these building blocks of truth, the journalist must at certain points assume that his very existence is less important than his pursuits.

It is so because the journalist knows that any society devoid of these building blocks of truth exists in a very dark realm, and would as a consequence become a place of constant turmoil.

One professional who has amply demonstrated this unshakable quest for presenting those crucial building blocks of truth is the late Paul Oloko; ace photographer of The Guardian who recently passed on. Oloko was one professional whose lenses produced images that haunted and healed. In the context of Nigerian photojournalism, his camera was an institution, which constantly provided narratives of the existential drudgery of the Nigerian condition. Oloko’s camera was pro-people. It travelled to meet and document the realities of those on the margins of society.

The Guardian late photojournalist, Paul Oloko

The Guardian late photojournalist, Paul Oloko


He never shied away from engaging with the disadvantaged, and he told their stories with the instincts of an ally. Oloko did not shy away from capturing faces that carried the pains and burdens of being Nigerian. The unseen tears of Oloko’s subjects eloquently narrated the stories of the crushing injustices of Nigeria’s indifferent system.

In his relentless photographic documentation, we do not merely see the pains and miseries. We also see Oloko’s subjects through the fine prints of The Guardian in action in the battlefields of the people. His lenses captured the gestures of a people in the fight, however feeble, for survival. He loved to document the engagements of students, market women and the coalition of forces that demand an end to the status quo.

As a corollary, in Oloko’s over two decades of photography, we get acquainted with his quiet, but irreverent offensive against bad governance in all forms. He had an uncommon knack for capturing those monuments of decay, manifesting in heaps of refuse that once threatened our sanity, just as he also put his lens in service of the public by chronicling the unacceptably horrible dilapidation of many of our roads.

Reporting for the flagship, several special assignments brought us together. I was always struck by the depth of his commitment and his fearlessness. I can recall his trim and Spartan appearance, as he would close an eye to take his shots. Nothing thrilled him more than getting a front page picture. On one occasion, we had gone to report one of the many unending pipeline fires in Ijegun, a suburb on the outskirts of Lagos. I still remember this scene vividly. It was one of those bedlam in which everyone had commenced a rapid dialogue with their feet. The fire was advancing rapidly, threatening the entire community. As we had seen many times, a classic case of Nigerian dysfunction was playing out; men of the fire service who managed to arrive the scene after the fire had done substantial damage did not have hoses that could reach a point to put out the fire. So as the fire advanced, gutting a crucial oil infrastructure, the firemen were beating a tactical retreat.

In the midst of it all, I could catch a glimpse of Paul Oloko; he was surprisingly heading in the opposite direction, searching for a vantage position to take a shot. I voiced my worry about his safety, pointing out that even the fire fighters were taking to their heels. His reply had a tone of finality: “this is the picture for tomorrow’s front page.”

There is no doubt that his ability to defy the odds was one quality that made him tick. He was a man who dedicated himself to using photojournalism as a veritable instrument for representing the voiceless, all limitations notwithstanding. Adieu Oloko, rest blissfully in the bosom of the Lord.

Ajanaku, a former associate of The Guardian lives in Abuja.