Reminiscences: My Journey to Kirikiri Prisons – 3

Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Early the following morning, my Pastor called again, and prayed for me. I was almost moved to tears as his mellifluous voice cooed through the telephone very, very early that Wednesday morning.

  He had earlier, in a meeting with my wife, agreed that it was only decent and upright to respect the undertaking I gave. So, I told him my decision to see Chief Gani Fawehinmi before going to the police, and he concurred.

More than two hours before my meeting with the Police, about 7.45a.m. (I think), I was in Chief’s G.R. A. Ikeja (Lagos) house. The uniformed ‘gateman’ said Chief was still in his bedroom; and I had to wait for the only person authorised to enter and notify him of my presence.

About two hours later, the chap had not come. I could not see the Chief and the time was getting close to the 10 a.m. appointment. I was in a frenzy. So, I decided to go, and on my way, grabbed a telephone and called Chief’s bedroom straightaway. Ten minutes later, I got through to Chief.  And he was livid! He was annoyed that I could not reach him when I needed to see him. He had once said I should wake him up anytime of the day, if I had any emergency (legal) problem.  Even before I laid out the problem, he insisted I took down the names of three persons I could reach who were capable of getting across to him wherever or whenever: his two wives and Funmilayo, his daughter.

 Eventually, after relating my dilemma, especially as it concerned my undertaking, he advised that we should meet in his office by 12 noon; that the letter would be stopped, and re-written; and if I must go, a lawyer would escort me. Was I relieved!


Six hours after I made the call, I was still in Gani’s chambers (with my partner and

Harry). Decisions: Letter was typed, stating our inability to accept the invitation due to the aforesaid reasons: and that my undertaking was made without legal advice, and it was therefore of no effect. The lawyer left for Milverton Road – and returned. He told us he met Dutse and his boss, and the lawyer from “our friends”. Of course, the first accused was nowhere near the place. There, our lawyer was shown a fresh charge sheet meant for us. He also found out that the DPP had advised that the case be taken before Justice Inumidun Akande of the Ikeja High Court (Court Room 6) a few months ago! And it was coming up the following day! They advised we should make ourselves available before the Judge. Just like that!

 I heaved again, discharged of my guilt concerning the undertaking, and prepared for the next battle at the High Court.  Unknown to us, that was the beginning of our trip to the most famous prison in Nigeria, the Kirikiri Maximum Prison. What a day!


AS if urged on by some positive force, I kept my toothbrush of the previous day in the car as I left for the Ikeja High Court. We always wanted to get to court as early as possible even before the judge or magistrate would sit.  Thus, we were in the courtroom before 9 a.m.; and the judge sat about 10 a.m. She went through all the cases firmly and dispassionately.

In fact, I got carried away with the amusing routine of the “senior prosecuting counsel” standing and recounting her futile efforts to get the IPO’s suspects or Black Maria to come to the court… and the no-nonsense hammering of the judge – promptly discharging some, and adjourning others. Then it was our turn. I had no fears at all: ‘this woman would be fair and square; and we would be out of here in minutes,’ so I thought.

 Of course, a third of the courtroom audience was made up of our people. Some work with us at National Encomium; some were related by ‘blood’ – and some close friends. Others were business partners – the men who printed for us, who supplied us newsprints and bond paper every week. Some of them had brought requisite land papers to stand as sureties for us. My nephew (Tunde), who was also one of our lawyers, was nervous. A tall gangling quiet fellow (Dunni) who was sent by my Pastor, alongside my Pastor’s silent and serious assistant, Christian Ike, to hold a watching brief.

Surprisingly, when the charges were read in the open court, the name of the fourth accused, Harrison Bayagbon, had been remarkably dropped – and stranger still – he was conscripted to become a prosecution witness. What a vindication. (My spirit tells me it would soon be our turn. It would become clear to all that the hullabaloo was a wild goose chase, afterall). 

Our lawyer was ready and confident; he is Edwin Anikwem, Esq. The indefatigable Lagos lawyer, Mr. Fred Agbaje (he later died on November 26, 2016) only got to know that morning, at the court premises, of the recent chapter in our unending history, and he also announced his presence as a friend of the court (amicus curiae).

Trouble entered the matter as soon as the judge decided to separate the first accused, Jonathan, from the second and third accused (that is my partner and I). She heard arguments for the first accused and refused him bail – because her court would not entertain an oral application for bail. Aha!!!

I prepared myself for a similar shock, and mumbled my fear to my partner. He apparently didn’t hear me, as his mind was still somersaulting from the pronouncement. 

Just as I was resigning myself to fate, the lawyers were battling to save our weekend, and badgering the Judge with authorities upon authorities “on precedence of oral application for bail”, tearing through the Law Reports.

Even the FAME lawyer, who for the first time, stepped down as the first accused’s lawyer, and identified with the complainant, objected. He undertook to vouchsafe our not jumping bail. Some gall!

The ebullient Fred Agbaje rose up in support… the Judge was not moved. She stood her ground, and ordered that we should all be remanded at the Kirikiri (Male) Prison till 4 November, 1999 – when next the case would be called!!

(To Continue)

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