February 1, 1971 in history


On this day, Kunle Adepeju, a student of the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Ibadan, got killed by a stray bullet in a protest in front of Queen Elizabeth II Hall of the University.

Kunle Adepeju and other conscious Students of the University of Ibadan had stood vehemently against the imbroglio that went down at the Nnamdi Azikwe Hall which was as a result of the students’ reaction to the shabby catering services in the Hall, and the dishonesty of the manageress who was accused of inefficiency and poor public relations. A petition for her removal was sent to the Vice-Chancellor of the University, but the school authorities were said to be reluctant to remove her over the allegations, and that apparently escalated into a demonstration which was started by residents of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall.

Before the week ran out, it had escalated to become a demonstration of the whole students force who gave their solidarity support to the Zikites. It was no longer a Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall problem. It had escalated to become a University of Ibadan students’ unrest.

Instead of finding a solution to the problem, the school authority compounded it. Instead of calming down the students in a more peaceful and orderly manner, it was the police that was brought in. The decision of the Vice-Chancellor, probably due to the ill-advice given by his cabinet was what led to the face-off and consequently, led his voyage into university administration to end in a comprehensive fiasco. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Adeoye Lambo could not understand why students were demanding such privileges as sumptuous foods and beer-drinking when majority of the people were wallowing in rural penury. He felt that the best solution to the students unrest was to bring in the police. He therefore, invited the police to the campus to quell the unrest.

In the early morning of February 1, I97I, a grave crisis rapidly developed when, during an emergency meeting of Deans, Senior Academic and other staff in the Vice-Chancellor’s office, a confrontation between police and demonstrating students turned into a riot. Much damage was done to university property, and clashes between police and students continued throughout the morning. After the arrival of a reinforcement of police contingent (the para-military) around lunch time, confrontation in the dual carriageway between Oduduwa Road and the main entrance to Queen Elizabeth Hall culminated in some of the police opening fire. One student, Adekunle Muyiwa Adepeju, was killed by a stray bullet from the police, and two others-plus one member of the junior staff of the bursary-were wounded.

Adekunle Adepeju

According to information, Adepeju was not even a member of Zik Hall. He was from Mellanby Hall. He was not the student union leader neither was he a member of the union either in his hall of residence or in his department. He was described as a thoroughbred gentleman and of noble character, amiable, kind, hardworking, intelligent and God-fearing. He was not in the fore front of the demonstration, but was just among the crowd. He fell by the bullet of the police.

Adekunle Adepeju, the only child of his parents, was a final year student of the Faculty of Agriculture. He was just 23 when he met his untimely death. serious face-off between the police and students resulting in the killing of Adekunle Adepeju.

The killing of Kunle Adepeju, a quiet young man who had a lot of passion with his flute and avoided protest, was the first time a student was killed on the University campus.

He unfortunately got hit by a stray bullet fired by a police officer who was told to suppress the protest. The young student was trying to help his fellow student up before he was hit by a stray bullet. His corpse was laid near the bus stop of Queen Elizabeth II Hall and was covered in a white bed sheet.

After Adepeju’s murder, the students were suelled with so much anger that they a protest started in Ibadan on this day which spread further to Lagos where protesters burnt down police posts and hunted policemen until  the situation was eventually brought under control by the authorities.



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