EMERITUS HON. JUSTICE KUNLE ADEIGBE
- In a nutshell, can we know who retired Justice Kunle Adeigbe is?
Answer: I am Emeritus Hon. Justice Kunle Adeigbe, who was born on Friday, 31st October, 1952 to both parents from Osogbo, Osun State. I retired from the Osun State Judiciary on 31st October, 2017 at the statutory age of 65 years, after serving as a Judge of the High Court of Osun State for 11 years 3 months.
I joined the bench of the High Court on 3rd August, 2006 after practicing as a Lawyer in my private Chambers, known then as ‘Kunle Adeigbe & Co, Legal Practitioners, Consultant and Notary Public situated at Awolowo Avenue, Bodija Ibadan for over 16 years.
I started full-time legal practice in Ibadan after I voluntarily retired as a News Producer/Principal News Editor at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Agodi, Ibadan on 31st October, 1990 after practicing as a broadcast journalist from 1977 to 1990.
I was initially employed by the then WNGBC owner of WNTV/WNBS, as a Stenographer in July 1975, and was deployed to the Administrative Division of the Station, from where I was designated as Confidential Secretary in the office of the newly promoted Staff Development Manager of WNTV/WNBS, in the person of Mr. Yemi Farounbi (as he was known then) for some time, and was later transferred to the News and Current Affairs Division of the Corporation as a Confidential Secretary to the Director of News and Current Affairs, Mr. Kunle Adeleke (as he was known then); where I served until the creation of States in 1976, and the station was named “NTV Ibadan”. When the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) was founded thereafter, with Mr. Kunle Adeleke as General Manager, I chose to remain with the “NTV Ibadan” where I was deployed to the Newsroom as a News Assistant/Sub-Editor.
That year, I proceeded to the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, (NIJ), Breadfruit Street, Lagos for a 2 year diploma course in Journalism, with full sponsorship by the Television Station. I returned from the course in 1979 and assumed duty as a Reporter for the Station.
By October 1979, I gained admission into the University of Ibadan to read Language Arts, from where I graduated with a B.A. (Hons.) Degree in 1982 and returned to the Station after my NYSC in 1983.
Later in 1983, I was also offered admission into the University of Ibadan for my one-year Master’s Degree programme in Language Arts (M.C.A). It was during this post-graduate course that I discovered that the University has started its Law degree programme, I applied and got admitted for the LL.B degree course, which I completed in 1986/87 academic session.
I had to abandon the Master’s degree programme in Language Arts for the Law degree, as both could not be combined at that time, since I could not use the same matriculation number for both courses.
I then returned to the Television Station after the Law degree course, but I could not proceed straight to the Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos until 1988, as I had to wait for one year for approval of my application for sabbatical leave from the NTA before I could go to the Law School from 1988-1989.
On being called to the bar in 1989, I returned to the Television Station, Ibadan to serve the NTA for one year, which was the condition for granting me the sabbatical leave.
On 31st October, 1990, I voluntarily retired as a News producer/Principal Editor of the Station, to start my private legal practice from 1990-2006. I was elevated to the bench as a Judge of the High Court in The State of Osun from 2006 to 2017. I retired from the bench at the statutory age of 65 years on 31st October, 2017.
2. You gained the initial public attention as a broadcast journalist, how and where did you acquire the basic and necessary training?
As earlier mentioned, I was employed by the WNTV/WNBS Ibadan in July 1975 as a Stenographer after a competitive aptitude test conducted by the Test Development and Research Office (TEDRO) and marked by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Yaba, Lagos with an oral interview by the Management of the Station.
On my appointment, I was deployed to the Administrative Division of the Station, from where I was made to serve as the first Confidential Secretary in the Staff Development Unit of the station, headed by Mr. Yemi Farounbi then, who was newly promoted as the Staff Development Manager. It was from that unit that I got transferred to the News and Current Affairs Division, headed then by the newly promoted Director of News and Current Affairs, in person of Mr. Kunle Adeleke. I was then made the First Confidential Secretary to the Director of News and Current Affairs up to 1976.
While serving there, new states were created, including Oyo State and I chose to remain in the Federal Service “NTV Ibadan”, and I was redeployed to the News and Current Affairs Divisions as News Assistant/Reporter. I was then sent by the station for a 2-year Diploma programme in journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Breadfruit Street, Lagos, without pay, to acquire formal training in Journalism from October 1977 to June 1979.
I successfully completed the diploma course, with distinctions in Television News writing, English Language, Typing and Shorthand. I returned to the Television Station in June 1979, where I was promoted Sub-editor in the News Department.
3. As an erudite editor who made his marks, particularly in NTA, you handled professionally in 1991(sic.) the story of an event concerning President Babangida in Obafemi Awolowo University, then University of Ife. Your handling of it was and is still a lesson in ownership/self censorship for journalism practice. Can you repose this memorable event and your editorial judgment for today’s media practitioners?
Before I went to the Law School in 1988, I was already promoted Principal Editor/News Producer in the News and Current Affairs Division, under my able and amiable Manager, News and Current Affairs, Mr. Biodun Aladekomo (as he was then known). I became the News Producer/Editor for one of the two shifts in the Newsroom.
On this particular day in 1987/88, I had a News material turned in by one of the Senior Reporters, named Mr. Segun Soroye (now deceased). He had gone to cover the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife graduation ceremony where the then President, General Ibrahim Babangida had been represented as the Visitor to the University by Vice-Admiral Koshoni, who was also a member of the then Supreme Military Council. The report submitted by the reporter showed that the representative of the Visitor to the University had arrived the venue of the event at Ile-Ife, only to meet the students carrying placards, with unprintable names against the Babangida administration, and they were throwing stones at the Visitor’s representative, who had to be smuggled out of the campus on that fateful day.
On return to the Television Station, Mr. Segun Soroye submitted his reports to me, including the film and the script for use in the day’s News bulletin. It was a grade “A” News material.
Before the first News bulletin at 4.30 p.m. could be read for the day, the Press Secretary, to the then Oyo State Governor, Col. Adetunji Idowu Olurin, in person of Mr. Lekan Alabi (now Oloye Lekan Alabi) rushed into the Newsroom with an order that the General Manager of the Station, in person of Prince Bayo Sanda (now late) or the Manager, News, in person of Mr. Biodun Aladekomo, or the Duty Editor should report to the Governor for a directive on the OAU graduation ceremony report.
As the day was a Saturday, I was the most senior person on duty around. I then reported to the Military Governor, who ordered that the story about the incident at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) on that day should be blocked out, and never to be used.
I respectfully told the Governor that the order he just made could be counter-productive to the Television station, and that if the story was not used at all, the multitude of viewers who were at the event at Ile-Ife earlier in the day would never belief any other News story broadcast by the station again.
I added that the Station, as the Military Governor knows had been in existence since October 31, 1959 from when it had established its News credibility, for carrying authentic News for which the viewers had always credited it, as a veritable News channel, and that if I did not carry the News of the OAU graduation ceremony its credibility could be badly and irretrievably killed.
The Military Governor was surprised at my reaction, and calmly stated that he had called all other broadcast News Media Managers/Editors in Oyo State and gave them the order earlier in the day, and none of them was so bold to tell him that the order he gave could kill the credibility of their News media, adding that all they said was “yes, sir” and left without educating him on the implication. The Military Governor then thanked me and explained that the Presidency was afraid that if the News story was used without proper handling, other university students on other campuses in the country could use it as a spring board to start further demonstrations, and disturb the peace of the country.
I assured him that as a responsible News Editor, I have the social responsibility to handle the story professionally, and requested him to watch out for my 4.30 p.m. News bulletin for the day on the News item.
The Governor then commended me, and allowed me to go back to the Television Station.
During the 4.30 p.m. “News in Brief”, I personally edited the film with the script and killed the “Sound On Film” where the students were shouting “thief” “thief” “thief” on the Presidential entourage, but still left the placards and reported that the students registered their angers against the Federal Government at the graduation ceremony.
After the News report at 4.30 p.m. the Military Governor again sent Mr. Lekan Alabi (now Oloye Lekan Alabi) to go and call me to meet him in the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan.
I went back to meet His Excellency, who further commended me and asked me to personally take the edited version of the News item to the NTA, Network Headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos that day, as he had earlier contacted the NTA network headquarters in Lagos to black out the News items, but that with the way I had handled it, the News item could be carried on the national network.
I told him that there was an institutional constraint for me to carry out his latest directive as there was no way I could edit my own bulletin for 7:30pm on that day at Ibadan, and still make Lagos to meet the 9:00pm network News, to use the News item.
He then directed that an Official Car with OYSG plate number with a dispatch rider be allocated as a stand-by for me to take my edited News item to Lagos that evening, and that if I needed to sleep over in Lagos thereafter, I should go to the Oyo State Liaison Lodge, known an “Oduduwa House” Victoria Island, Lagos, where I would be given a chalet to sleep over night.
I went back to the Television house, prepared my 7:30pm bulletin and got everything ready by 6:00pm or so, for broadcast at 7:30p.m. at Ibadan and left for Lagos. I got to the NTA network headquarters Newsroom at about 8:45pm and met the Duty Editor who collected the News item from me, adding that Governor Olurin had called him before my arrival that the News item was on its way. The News item was used at 9:15pm on the national network the way I had edited it, and the News Editor was also pleased and thanked me before I then proceeded to the “Oduduwa House”, Victoria Island, Lagos with my entourage to sleep over night, the following morning, I returned to Ibadan.
On my return, the Military Governor commended my professional handling of the News item, and the Television station’s management commended my Editorial judgment on the News item, which all other Broadcast Media in the country had killed out rightly on order of the Military Governor. A lesson in self-censorship in journalism, you will say.
4. The transition from the Newsroom to the court as a Lawyer and later to the Bench as a Judge is remarkable, but the public needs to understand the differences in the experience, particularly for the benefit of practitioners.
I must give glory to the Almighty God for directing my life. I had always prayed in my early life to become a Journalist and a Lawyer, but not a High Court Judge.
My journey into the Television Newsroom as a Stenographer, trained at the then Technical College, Ibadan, which later became the first Polytechnic in Nigeria in 1971 shortly after I was admitted into the Technical College was a miracle to me. I was a primary school teacher at St. Michaels Primary School, Agba-Ogun near Araromi Owu in Ayedaade Local Government now in Osun State, under the Local Schools Board in 1970-1971.
Financial circumstances had made me to enter the Technical College, Ibadan (later known as the Polytechnic, Ibadan) as a part-time student while working with the then Institute of Administration, University of Ife, Ibadan Campus in 1971 as a Clerk Typist/ Library Assistant.
So, when I finished the course in Secretarial Studies in 1973, I continued working at the Institute of Administration, University of Ife, Ibadan Branch until 1974 when it was moved to the main campus at the University of Ife Ile-Ife. I then had to resign to work at the University of Ibadan, Institute of Applied Science and Technology (now Faculty of Technology) as a Stenographer from where I moved to the Television House, Agodi, Ibadan in 1975, still as a Stenographer, and later a Journalist in the Television House. I rose through the ranks from a News Assistant to News Producer/Principal Editor (News).
My experience in the News room showed that a News man/Journalist requires a lot of training to be successful in the field. Contrary to the public assumption that Journalism is an all-comers field, I assert that it is a field that requires an analytical mind of events and assessment of the society. The journalist must uphold the tenets of the calling of educating, informing and entertaining the populace, while also upholding the social responsibility of the News media to the society. Every News item must aim at promoting the social cohesion and development as a whole. If the society is destroyed, the Journalist will destroy himself too.
So, it is a question of societal survival, including self and responsible journalism.
Facts are sacred and rumours are not materials for journalism but it can only be a spring board to investigative journalism. This is similar to the social engineering role of the Lawyer in every society.
My experience is that the Lawyer must always help the Court to arrive at just decisions on matters in litigation before it, and that every Lawyer must trade and promote factual issues before the Court. Hence the promotion of facts in issue to arrive at justice in litigation must be the hall-mark of a good Lawyer.
My experience on the Bench as a Judge on the other hand is about promotion of the well-being of every individual in the society, and never to engage in miscarriage of justice. Whenever people approached me on an issue in my Court, I always told them to go back to their Counsel to state the facts at their disposal to the Lawyer, who will know as a professional the best way to present the case to Court, moreso that I would only know the other side of the case when the opposing side presented his case in the open Court, and whenever any relation appeared before me, I quickly informed the open court that I could not handle his case, but would transfer such a case to another Judge for adjudication, as justice should not only be done, it must be seen to be done always. That was my philosophy throughout my sojourn on the Bench, and I thus avoided any miscarriage of justice. I thank God that by His guidance, I never had any of my decisions or judgments over-turned at the appellate Courts. Glory be to God. I say this without appearing immodest and to glorify God for the opportunity I had to adjudicate on matters brought before me as a Judge of the High Court.
So I enjoin all practitioners, either in journalism, law or on the bench to always seek the face of God in all their practices and keep to the fact and the truth always. I wish them all the best.
5. Finally, kindly assess the role of the media in national security from your vantage position.
As I stated above, every Journalist, both in print and broadcast, should keep to the maxim that says “facts are sacred” and never carry rumors as a News item. A responsible journalist should use any rumor as a spring board to his investigative journalism, and he should know that he has a role in promoting social cohesion. Every nation requires a responsible media particularly in Nigeria, where the media practitioners are expressly assigned a Constitutional role in section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), hereafter called “the Constitution” as follows:
“The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
The media practitioner must also note the provision in section 23 of the Constitution on the promotion of national ethics, so as to safeguard national security. It provides, thus:
“The national ethics shall be discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism”.
If every journalist will keep to this national ethics, he will always be seen as promoting national security and be regarded as a thorough professional journalist.
Interview By Clement Ige