The combination of names -Bamidele Aturu - was forced into our consciousness sometime in the late 80's. The news broke that a Youth corper had defied a military state governor. "Dem swear for am!" was probably the refrain on many lips because state military governors had an awesome influence on the existence of the lesser mortals in the Nigerian polity! The story had it that Bamidele Aturu, a graduate of Physics Education, had distinguished himself as a Youth Corper in Niger state, where Lt Col. Lawan Gwadabe held sway! The latter had called him up to the podium to be honoured for a distinguished service in the state at the passing out parade. Bamidele, with rare courage, not only spurned the honour, but also chose that grandiose stage to tongue lash the military government.

"I cannot take honour from an irresponsible government," he said defiantly. The shoving, slapping, and ill-treatment that followed that audacious behaviour was better imagined. Through the instrumentality of notable Nigerians, Bamidele Aturu was back in school. This time, he chose my alma mater - Great Ife - to study law. After his stint at the law school, he began a law practice that was dedicated to the service of God and Humanity.

About a year before his death, an unforgettable incident happened to me. My older sibling, Emmanuel - a US-based Medical Doctor and Attorney had called me on his arrival into the country in an early morning Arik-air flight from JFK. At past 6 am when I was about setting out to the airport, he called me to hold on that the operatives of the Department of State services (DSS) were questioning him. About one and half hours later, I thought the questioning should have been over; I decided to go to the airport. As I approached the airport, he called me that they were just moving him to the Institution's facility at Alfred Rewane Road in Ikoyi. I knew I was more useful staying at home and making all the contacts. The first person I called was Bamidele Aturu who told me to give him a short email, stating the facts. The next person was Omoyele Sowore, the SaharaReporters publisher. Aturu dispatched a strongly-worded petition to the DSS headquarters in Abuja and continued to follow up the case. Within two hours, Sowore had published on SaharaReporters my brother's profile. A lady from American Embassy called me and wanted to know if my brother holds an American passport, which I responded affirmatively. By 6 pm the same day, he was a free man! Meanwhile, Bamidele Aturu's service was pro bono!

A few years before his demise, he started an intellectual discourse on his birthday (October 16) for the betterment of the Nigerian polity. He was a very unassuming, humane and humble human being. He was an indefatigable defender of the weak and vulnerable in the society. He was firmly entrenched in the love for and of his God. It was a fact attested to by one of his Office staff members. He said, "Oga came downstairs one day and saw that the place was unkempt. He took the broom and started sweeping the floor." It was the simplicity and urbanity that Aturu chose as his preference while on this side of the Eternity.

For a soul that understood the essence of his assignment and fulfilled it with unrelenting fervour, it is somewhat belittling to pray for him to rest in peace. Brother Bamidele Aturu rests on the bosom of his LORD, awaiting the resurrection of his body. It was wonderful understanding selflessness from you, brother. Adieu and sleep on, beloved!

-Rotimi Fashakin


Bamidele Aturu

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