BY: OJO ADEREMI
In January 1971, the students of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan complained against the manageress of the Cafeteria whom they accused of corruption, inefficiency, poor productivity and and poor public relations. A petition for her removal was sent to the Vice Chancellor. University authorities were however reluctant to remove her on the allegations. (1• J. D Ojo.1992. “Students’ Unrest in Nigerian Universities”. Ibadan Spectrum Books. Page 45.).
According to reports on the proceedings of the court case later filed and handled by Barrister Gani Fawehinmi, residents of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall had been on hunger strike for 48 hours before taking to the street to protest.
At the end of a week of demonstrations; started by inmate of Azikiwe Hall and later joined by other sympathizers, the crisis escalated, at the height of which the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Adeoye Lambo invited the police to the campus. This lead to a serious clash between the police and the students. (2• J. D Ojo. 1992)
Police men shot at students during which a student was shot in the leg. Kunle Adepeju, a student of the Faculty of Agriculture, was trying to help the wounded colleague when he was hit in the head by a stray bullet. (3• According to the article “Kunle Adepeju; A Hero From The Green” by Ojo Aderemi in The Green Magazine; A Magazine Published by the National Association of Agricultural Students. 2015)
The killing of a student on campus evoked an immediate hostile reaction from the public and in response to public opinion, General Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of the Federal Military Government, appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Kazeem. This commission came out with the positive recommendation that live ammunition should never be used in quelling student riots. The Government in its comments rejected this and held that the use of fire-arms was fully justified in the circumstances even though it led to the death of Kunle Adepeju. (4• J. D Ojo. 1992.)
On the first anniversary of Kunle Adepeju’s death, 1 February 1972, all the then existing universities in the country staged a peaceful demonstrations in their various locations.
The leaders of the NUNS (now NANS) assembled at Ibadan to commemorate the day by laying wreaths on Kunle’s grave. Today in history marks the killing Nigeria’s First Student Martyr -KUNLE ADEPEJU.