Sunday, May 27, 2018 6:54 pm
President Muhammadu Buhari felicitates with journalist and author, Kunle Ajibade, on his 60th birthday, May 28, 2018.
President Buhari joins the media industry in specially celebrating the renowned author of “Jailed for Life’’ and “What a Country!’’ for his literary prowess and contributions to topical issues in the country over the years.
The President, according to a press statement signed by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), recalls the many hurdles Ajibade had to overcome, and the sacrifices he made in the pursuit of seeing fairness and justice institutionalized in the country, including going to jail for trumped up reasons.
President Buhari commends Ajibade’s patriotism, resilience and desire to see Nigeria become a better country.
The President prays that the almighty God will grant the author longer life, good health and more wisdom to serve the nation he loves so much.
Ajibade was born on 28th of May, 1958 in Nigeria. Ajibade attended Muslim Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, College of Arts and Science and the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, where he obtained his first degree in English Studies. Shortly afterwards, he earned a Masters degree in Literature-In-English in the same institution.
After graduation, he worked as a Copywriter with Grant Advertising in Lagos; Senior Correspondent, The African Concord; Assistant Editor, The African Guardian; and now he is Executive Editor, TheNEWS and P.M.News.
His Arrest, Imprisonment, and Release
In 1995, the military administration of Sani Abacha announced the arrest of a number of Nigerians on suspicion of participating in a coup attempt. The list included former head of state Olusegun Obasanjo, his deputy Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, among others.
During the trial of the coup plotters, TheNews, one of Nigeria’s prominent investigative and combative news magazines published a story titled “Not Guilty – Army Panel Clears Coup Suspects.”
He was charged for ‘publishing materials which could obstruct the work of the coup plotters tribunal’ and for ‘misleading the public’. The crime was being “‘as an accessary after the fact of treason” and the punishment was life in prison. It was the first time journalists would be tried (and convicted) with coup plotters in the country. The account of his three years in jail is documented in the book titled: Jailed for Life: A Reporter’s Prison Notes. The book won the Victor Nwankwo Book of the year award in 2005. He is also the author of What a Country! In 1998, he was a scholar of the Feuchtwanger Fellowship.
Other journalists arrested at the same time were George Mbah of Tell Magazine, Chris Anyanwu of The Sunday Magazine, and Ben Obi of the Weekend Classique.
They were all convicted and sentenced to life in jail, while Yar’adua was sentenced to death. Ajibade was taken to Makurdi prisons, according to him, “to die incrementally”.
There was international outcry and the sentence for Ajibade was reduced to 15 years.
On 8 June 1998, General Abacha died in office. Ajibade was released on 18 July of that year by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Ajibade is married and has children.