Chief Samuel Ayodele Adebanjo – Elder Statesman, Eminent Lawyer

Chief Samuel Ayodele Adebanjo (popularly known as Chief Ayo Adebanjo, was born in Ogbo/Okelamuren (near Ijebu Ode), Ogun State, on April 10, 1928.

He trained at the Council of Legal Education, London from 1958 to 1960 and was called to the Bar at Licons’ Inn in 1961. He attended St. Saviour’s High School, Lagos (1935-1936), Holy Trinity School, Lagos (1937-1941), Christ Church Cathedral School, Lagos (1942-1943) and CMS Grammar School, Lagos (1944-1949).

A chieftain of Afenifere, a political and socio-cultural organisation in southwest Nigeria, Chief Adebanjo is a dedicated disciple of the legendary sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He worked at Medical Headquarters (now Ministry of Health) on Broad Street, Lagos, as a clerical assistant, Ikorodu Trading Company as a clerk, and a Crime reporter and later Commercial Editor of Daily Service (all between 1950 and 1954).

Politically conscious since elementary school when he regularly read the West African Pilot, he first joined Egbe Omo Oduduwa, and eventually Action Group shortly after its formation on March 21, 1951. He became the party’s Organising Secretary for Remo Division, in the Old Western Region, in 1954, until his left for England on December 31, 1957.

After his call to Bar in 1961, he returned to Nigeria to join the law firm of Obafemi Awolowo & Co in Ibadan where he worked as a Counsel for a year, until the treasonable felony trail of 1962 where he was “accused number 30”, while Chief Awolowo was “accused number 27”.

He spent the next four years in exile in Ghana (1962-1966) until his detention in Usherford Prisons, Accra, Ghana.  He was moved from there to Kaduna Prisons (Kaduna) and eventually Kirikiri Prisons (Lagos). He was released in December 1967.

Between 1968 and 1972, he was with M. Ola Owodunni & Co., until he established his own chambers, Ayo Adebanjo & Co.

A member of the Committee of Friends of Chief Awolowo which later metamorphosed into Unity Party of Nigeria in 1978, he served as a National Executive Council member of the party all through the Second Republic (1979-1983).  He was Chairman Alliance for Democracy (1998-2000).

Though not very active during Babangida’s Third Republic, the annulment of June 12, 1993, Presidential Elections believed to have been won by Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola brought out the activist in him. With other patriots, he was one of the founders of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in 1994 and was in the forefront of the restoration of Abiola’s mandate.

During General Sani Abacha’s regime, he was incarcerated on June 17, 1996, for about four months.  When the ban on politics was lifted in 1998, he helped in conceptualising the Alliance for Democracy.

Chief Adebanjo is the Bajulaiye of the Source, Geregbedun of Iken Ogbo, Asiwaju of Ibido Ogbo Baba Ijo of St. Philips Church Isanya/Ogbo and an elder statesman – He was a member of the 2014 National Conference.

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