Adekunle Adepeju was a second-year student of the Agricultural Economics Department, University of Ibadan, as at the time of the incident. Prior to his death, the students of the University of Ibadan protested the poor state of the University which included the quality of the catering services exacerbated by the apparent dishonesty of the hall manageress.
The students felt the manageress was inefficient and had poor public relations, and so they petitioned the Vice Chancellor, Professor Lambo, for her immediate removal.
The management was reluctant to remove the manageress and this resulted in the demonstration which was started by students of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan. The Vice-chancellor invited the police to help contain the students’ protests which began on Saturday, January 30, 1971.
According to several accounts, Kunle Adepeju was a quiet young man who was noted for going about the campus with his flute. But on the 1st of February, 1971, right in the front of Queen Elizabeth II Hall, University of Ibadan, Kunle Adepeju was hit by a stray bullet which a police officer had fired into the protesting crowd. His lifeless body was laid near the bus stop to Queen’s Hall and covered in a white bed sheet.
It was reported that he was helping a fellow student whose leg had been shot. Kunle’s body fell, dead before touching the ground. Many other students were wounded; this killing created a strong hostile reaction from the public.
A 4-day protest ensued in Ibadan and spread to Lagos. According to Reuters, demonstrators burned down police posts and hunted policemen who took off their uniforms to escape the violence.
In memory of a true hero, Adekunle Ademuyiwa Adepeju, the entirety of Nigerian students remembers his great bravery. The power of his sacrifice, effort, courage, bravery remains a strong fulcrum for justice.
Today, on arrival to the University of Ibadan Campus, one of the many structures one would see is the University of Ibadan Students’ Union Building popularly known as the Kunle Adepeju Building which houses the late Kunle Adepeju statue.
The location of this structure itself seems to be deliberate to remind every student there is a vibrant and progressive students’ body that will always defend students’ rights.
Thanks for reading, OldNaija.
- LATE ADEKUNLE ADEMUYIWA ADEPEJU; A QUINTESSENTIAL HERO – Alao Abiodun Joshua, Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan.
- How Angry Protesters Stormed University of Ibadan in 1971 Over the Death of a Student – Teslim Omipidan, OldNaija.com