On April 18, 1978 Nigeria witnessed the bloodiest Students’ Protest when a UNILAG Student, Akintunde Ojo and eight others including a pregnant housewife were shot dead across Nigeria.
The protest followed the insensitive hike in the meal ticket of Universities from 50 Kobo to N1.50K. The move was resisted by the students leading to the famous “Ali Must Go” protest which turned out bloody.
National President of The National Union of Nigerian Students NUNS Comrade Maikel Olusegun Okeowo was arrested and detained illegally for 42 horrible days in solitary confinement in a cell in which Chef Obafemi Awolowo was once held at The Ikoyi Prisons.
From his solitary confinement, Comrade Segun Okeowo, through some of his loyal aides was able to smuggle out written notes to compatriots and family members.
Recently, copies of some of the 42 year old letters have emerged from his archives.
In one of the letters sent to Chief Gani Fawehinmi, he wrote:
“My Dear Chief Gani,
Segun Okeowo speaking. First taken to Lion Building. There till Friday 5th. Transferred Ikoyi Prisons 5th. Now in Ikoyi Prisons. Detention reasons undisclosed. Heard of the legal problems you are making- Grateful. Tell colleagues to keep the struggle on. Its hell in the cell but my mind is too proud to be deflated. Please keep all papers as from Wednesday 3rd May for me. Squeeze any vital information to me. Otherwise, no problem. Survey possibility of seeing me but press not too much. As per now, I am fit and fine and I am coping.
In another letter from the archives of the Late Students Union Leader, he sent encouraging words to his immediate family through his wife, Kemi.
“Hello My Dear Kemi,
How are you and my dear ones. Don’t let them feel my absence. Remember Mrs Olawoyin (wife of Chief J.S Olawoyin, a leader of Action Group) behave like her. You are the wife of a social reformer. This is the time to show that you are my real wife. Don’t panic. Be courageous. Take care of yourself and the children. I am alright. Don’t bother to come to Lagos. I will soon be alright. Tunde will bring news of me to you. No problem at all. Even though it seems a bit difficult. Keep fit and keep the children fit too. That is what I expect of you now. That is the greatest assignment for you. Its me your man.
These and many other letters/ speeches and selected reports form part of the ongoing compilation of events towards the shooting of the historical film ALI MUST GO slated for the last quarter of the year 2020.
Kolade Segun-Okeowo, ace filmmaker and son of comrade Segun Okeowo is the arrowhead of the historical film project