By Jide Afolabi
September 5 is such a special day in the annals of history. It is a day the world stood still to celebrate the lives of two legal luminaries, defender of the helpless and philanthropists per excellence.
It is even more special because one was born on September 5 while the other died on September 5.
Historians will never forget September 5 because it was this day in 1932 that the French Upper Volta was broken apart between Ivory Coast, French Sudan, and Niger.
For the Sports enthusiasts, September 5 is special to them because it was this day in 1960 that Cassius Clay popularly known as Muhammad Ali beats 3-time European champion, Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland by unanimous points decision to win Olympic light-heavyweight boxing gold medal at the Rome Games.
It was this same day in 1960 that the 35th American President, John F. Kennedy began underground nuclear testing and the same day, he signed law against hijacking (death penalty).
Hmmmmmmmm! September 5!
On September 5, 2009, the legal luminary, human rights activist, philanthropist, publisher, and politician, Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi died and we celebrated 10th Anniversary of his demise on September 5, 2019.
On the same day, we also celebrated another legal icon, legal luminary, human rights activist, philanthropist, publisher, and politician, Barrister Kunle Rasheed Adegoke popularly called K-RAD who was born 50 years ago.
While there is no point for comparison of the two, however, they both experienced excruciating poverty on their journey to stardom.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi was a strict human rights activist and hater of bad governance. His hatred for bad governance earned him enemies in politics, especially the military government. This earned him been detained severally by security agents. K-RAD also had his fair share of this in his journey in the defense of human rights.
I met K-RAD eleven years ago in Lagos shortly after my graduation. I was introduced to him by another leader in the struggle, a former National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Vice President, and former Students’ Union President of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, Comrade (Barrister) Amusan Moronkeji Johnson (Action J).
That same period, I was introduced to his twin brother (from another mother), Senator (Dr) Ajibola Basiru fondly called SRJ. He is currently representing the good people of the Osun Central Senatorial District in the Nigerian Senate. Others I was privileged to be introduced to included Comrades Akeem Lagbaja, Gbenga Justice, Gbenga Salam, Ismail Che, AY (former Chairman), Larry K, Jiti Ogunye, Bruno and many others who shook the very foundation of this nation and dismantled the military era. They were NANS leaders in the 80s and 90s when I was still a toddler.
Kunle Rasheed Adegoke (K-RAD) was born on September 5, 1969, in Osogbo, Osun State.
He was deeply interested in a formal education hence, he was enrolled at Ansar-u-deen Primary School, Osogbo in 1975 and graduated in 1981.
Young Adegoke proceeded to Ansar-ud-deen Grammar School, Osogbo in 1981 and graduated in 1986 in flying colours with brilliant performance in the West African School Certificate.
K-RAD after his Advanced Level studies at the Osogbo Grammar School gained admission to study English Language and Literature at the prestigious University of Ilorin in 1989.
Undergraduate Kunle began activism and political career while in the University. He was actively involved in student unionism. He was elected Secretary-General of the University of Ilorin Students’ Union and later, served Zone C of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, as the Secretary.
As a final year student in March 1992, K-RAD was expelled as a result of his activities in defending the rights of the his fellow students and a better Nigerian state.
But the brilliant and resilient Kunle would not reel in self pity as he quickly wrote another University Matriculation Examination (UME) in 1993 and, upon a brilliant performance, was offered admission to study Law at the University of Lagos in 1994/1995 Session.
Upon resumption at UNILAG, KRAD began where he left it at UNILORIN. He became a threat to obnoxious policies of the University management and great voice for the voiceless students.
As a result of his agitation for a better welfare for the students and a better University community, the unrepentant K-RAD was suspended by the school authority on his birthday on 5th September, 1997, and subsequently expelled same September.
K-RAD refused to succumb to the oppression of the management hence, he headed to court to seek justice against the tyrannical UNILAG management. He challenged his unjust suspension and subsequent expulsion and later got justice through Justice Tajudeen Odunowo of the Federal High Court, Lagos and was reinstated in May 1998. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons K-RAD has stoutly stood in defence of the oppressed and cheated in the society today.
In 2000, against all odds, the genius Adegoke completed his LLB studies with Second Class (Upper Division).
Owing to his brilliance, Adegoke represented University of Lagos at the All African Universities Human Rights Moot Court Competition in the University of Legon, Ghana where he again made the University and Nigeria proud.
The erudite Kunle Adegoke was called to the Nigerian Bar in February, 2003 as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria having susccessfully finished the compulsory one-year study at the Nigerian Law School in 2002.
He later went back to the University of Lagos and obtained Masters’ Degree in Law with 4.0 Grade Points in 2009.
Adegoke is a seasoned lawyer and has many laurels to his credit, after cutting his legal teeth with the distinguished law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP between April, 2003 and September, 2004, he went into private practice in a thriving partnership in the law firm of M. A. Banire & Associates for over a decade.
The successful law career has seen Adegoke opening his own chambers where he is the Principal Partner at Kunle Adegoke & Co. with offices located in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria.
Kunle Adegoke is an election petition expert. He was counsel to the former Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and represented him during the long battles to reclaim the people’s mandate between 2007 and 2010 and the infamous forgery trial that accompanied it. He was also counsel to many members of the House of Assembly in different states and members of the National Assembly.
He was a frontline team leader in the Benue State governorship petition between Steve Ugba and Gabriel Suswam in 2011, the Kogi governorship election petition between Prince Abubakar Audu and Governor Idris Wada, the Adamawa election petition between Markus Natina Gundiri and Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako and 2014 Osun governorship election petition between Iyiola Omisore and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Adegoke represented many members of the House of Assembly of Lagos State in 2007 – 2008 and 2015 in several election petitions; and was counsel to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in several matters including the case of Agbaje and Ambode.
Adegoke is currently on the legal team of President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 Presidential Election Tribunal.
Adegoke served as a member of the Strategy Committee for the election of AB Mahmoud, SAN as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in 2016.
As a result of his contributions to law practice in Nigeria, the Nigerian Bar Association appointed him to serve as the Secretary of the North East Task Force of the Nigerian Bar Association responsible for rendering legal service for the rehabilitation of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the North Eastern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
He also served as a co-opted member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
This year, Kunle Adegoke was shortlisted by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, a body that selects lawyers for conferment of the prestigious rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria. The Chief Judge of Lagos State swore him in as a Notary Public in 2017.
Adegoke is a public commentator, writer, author, and publisher and he has authored several books.
He was an All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirant in Osun state in 2018, a ticket he lost to unfavourable practices of the party.
Kunle Adegoke is a philanthropist and he gives to a fault. His large heartedness is indescribable. Though down to earth, he lives a simple lifestyle uncommon with Nigerians of his stature.
One very exceptional quality of K-RAD is his leadership style. Adegoke would not only welcome anyone that comes his way but listen to them with a rapt attention.
Kunle Adegoke is happily married to one wife and four beautiful daughters. This is the life of an enigma with a golden heart that we are celebrating.
Happy 50th birthday, Comrade (Barr) Kunle Rasheed Adegoke (K-RAD!
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