Home Features COVID-19 LOCKDOWN and my days in detention: Useful lessons- Adeyemi Afefulu

COVID-19 LOCKDOWN and my days in detention: Useful lessons- Adeyemi Afefulu

by Church Times
By Adeyemi Adefulu, MFR
detention

Adeyemi Adefulu

In recent times many people have called me to agonize over the current stay at home period and are obviously getting stressed up. Some of them may withdraw knowing it be, effortlessly,developing hypertension. This is I dare say is very sad.
Any one who has heard the biblical directives- “In every situation, give thanks” and “rest still and know that I am the Lord” and still worries has not really internalised the eternal message therein. My experience has taught me that in the end everything passes away. Even COVID-19 will pass away. For those who worry, this may be the beginning of their passage. Each of us will be well advised to exercise restraint in any trying circumstance.
The first thing to do is to stop agonizing over this period. As trying as Covid-19 is the heavens are not about to fall. Let me share my little experience with you.
I was 37 when the military struck in 1983. I had been in government for 4 years and 3 months. To this day, I am grateful to God for the opportunity to have served and wish I had done more. I gave the very best of my life in service. Service was always what I wanted to do and when the chance came I grabbed with both hands.
But I received an unjust, crude and inhuman recompense from the military government headed by General Muhammadu Buhari. Col. Oladipo Diya who was Military Governor in Ogun State thought I was so close to Onabanjo that there was no getting Onabanjo without getting Adefulu his political son. The whole purpose of his governance was bile. He came with vengeance in his heart. But those who seek to destroy what others built don’t go far. No wonder he is no more than a footnote in the history of Ogun State. His name Diya meaning avenger, was turned round to Kunya, the persecutor.
I was subjected to the most scurrilous of interrogations and mental and physical torture. But my interrogators soon learnt that they had a wrong candidate. Chief Bisi Onabanjo had run the most accountable of administrations and his accomplishments to this day remain a reference point.The intense search found that I had been prudent in my affairs before and during my days in government. My affairs were so scrupulously recorded that I dazed their several panels with documents and accountability. At a stage a Col Adeleke ( I think that’s his name from Ondo town) after the final interrogation of the SIP- State Investigation Panel said to everyone, “now this is off the record- I want to learn from this young man. How were you able to keep records like these? If anyone had asked me to account for how I spent my salary over the past 6 months, would not have been able to do it. Yet you have given us compelling records several years old which predated this job. Did you expect that this day will come? You were obviously doing well in your profession, why did you accept a thankless job like this?”I will leave the story of my answer to the panel out of this short discourse.
Suffice it to say that I was in detention for 18 months 16 of which were spent in Abeokuta Prison and 2 earlier months in detention camps. They preferred no offense and no charges, not one accusation. I woke up from day to day with no idea of when my nightmare will end. I just stared at the outside from the distance daily and life went on without me. If I had died nothing would have stopped.
From across the road from the elevated grounds of Abeokuta Prison, i looked at the gate of the Governors Lodge which, in my hey days, swung open any time I was spotted in my hey days,for 16 months. I no longer mattered. The truth of life is that no man really matters. With or without you, life goes on.
Now back to my story, how about that for the Covid-19 worrier? As I said, I was well under 40 with a young family of 5 children. Getting heart attack from my experience or ending in Aro Psychiatric Hospital would have been very easy to accomplish.
But,fortuitously,  I had learnt from very early in my life that “it is not life that matters but the courage you bring into it”. Faced with challenge one must always look at the good or positive side of any situation. I therefore summoned courage early and  I said to myself “with all the terrible injustice being meted to me, somehow this was still an opportunity that must not be wasted.” That meant I must use every moment well.
From that moment, I ended up going to bed exhausted every night. At a stage I started reading the Bible determined to read it from cover to cover ( I skipped the very difficult parts) complete with commentaries here and there. I learnt to speak French taught by a prisoner from Togo, studied case files for prisoners on the death row and wrote unsolicited legal opinions for their lawyers.I wrote to some Attorney General colleagues of mine seeking reprieve for well reformed prisoners and I got quite a few of them pardoned. Mrs. Airat Balogun the then AG of Lagos State was particularly helpful.
One of my prisoner friends was a man called Baiyewu who was a childhood friend of Ayinla Omowura. When Ayinla became a famous musician Baiyewu was his Manager. They were both from a similar rough background, fought with knives and and bottles. On one occasion they had one of their scuffles. Ayinla has sacked Baiyewu and desperately wanted to collect the motorcycle he had bought for Baiyewu. He rode in his Mercedes Benz in search of a motorcycle. They met and a fight ensued. Baiyewu hit Ayinla with a bottle on  the head and Ayinla died instantly. By the time I became a guest in Abeokuta Prison, Baiyewu had given his life to Christ and became an incredible influence in the prison. Every prisoner felt the influence of Baiyewu. He called them to prayer very early in the morning and late at night. This condemned prisoner became a good friend of mine. If any man was ever totally and completely changed by the in living of the Holy Spirit, Baiyewu was a truly changed man. He saw Christ before he saw death because he told me, in confidence, a week before his execution, that his end was near. Three days later Col. Diya came on a visit to the prison and signed that all the “fat” prisoners on death row be killed. His predecessors had left the prisoners alone. Baiyewu was hung along with 13 other prisoners in Abeokuta Prison wearing his best prison gear leading the others in song as they matched  to the gallows. We wept bitterly. But that’s a  story for another day.
Needless to say that despite the terrible condition of Abeokuta Prison I was very very busy. Today,  those who are in the comfort of their homes for the COVIC-19 lockdown are complaining so much! They are tired but this is futile. We must always learn to accept the things we cannot change.
My conclusion and counsel to everyone is that the challenge for you today is “what can I do at this time, how can I profitably utilize the time in my hands.” You may want to re arrange your wardrobes or kitchen, get rid of the many things you have around which you don’t need or do some reading, learn some gardening or baking etc. You may even want to think about your future or rebuild the broken walls of your life. One thing I am sure of is that no matter how long this lockdown lasts, I will not be able to finish the assignments I have set for myself. This can turn out to be a wonderful time you will never forget. It will not come again. The secret is to use  it well and profitably. Enjoy your COVID-19 Lockdown.

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