By Otunba Sayo Akintola
The name Dr Olusola Joseph Adepetu may not have any momentous connotation to majority of Nigerians. But to many residents of the ancient city of Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State in the 1980s, Olusola Naturalist Hospital would ring a deafening bell. Olusola naturalist hospital was the rave of the moment in those days when it comes to treating stubborn ailments with traditional medicine.
Its TV commercials rented the air for years as it dominated the frequency bands of not a few radio stations in the South West part of the country. When the orthodox medicine practitioners in the country seemed to have met a brick wall in finding solutions to the patients’ ailments, specialist doctors would not hesitate to refer them to Olusola Naturalist hospital where the proficiency of its proprietor would come to bear in finding lasting solutions to all known and unknown infirmities.
Asepetu suddenly became an instant brand name in Ibadan. His popularity soared to high heavens until trouble started in 1990 when he was clamped into Agodi prison in Ibadan sequel to the death of his girlfriend in mysterious circumstances. The lifeless body of the young lady was discovered at Sanyo area of Ibadan four days after she had been declared missing.
Members of the congregation at the Sanctuary of Christ Evangelical Church INC. Ibadan could barely hold back their tears as Adepetu narrated his excruciating travails in prison cell spanning 26 years. Interestingly, he became a tenant in the prison on account of the death of his girlfriend; it was an irony that it was while he was in the condemned cell at the Kirikiri maximum prison that he proposed to his new wife, Yetunde, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God RCCG, Lagos.
According to him, trouble started when he parted ways with his former wife over some irreconcilable differences over Jehovah Witness Church. The wife insisted that they both together with their four children attend the church while Adepetu declined, saying he would not have anything to do with the sect as he was born into Christ Apostolic Church CAC. The ensued disagreement led to the separation of the two. After a while, Adepetu decided to move on with his life. He had a fiancée who was living in Akure, his home town. His family and that of his fiancée were in the know of the relationship.
The young lady was however, coming to visit her lover in Ibadan on the fateful day when she suddenly became missing in transit. The two families became agitated as she did not get to her destination in her husband-to-be house at Old Ife road, Ibadan. When she could not be found, a report was lodged at the Iyaganku police station by Adepetu. A search party was organized for her by the police and relatives. Her lifeless body was however, found after four days she had been declared missing. On the fifth day, Adepetu was arrested when he visited the police station to further check on the security operatives if his fiancée had been found.
He was told that he would be detained in view of a petition against him on the death of the lady. Ten days later, he was taken to court to face a murder charge. He was remanded in Agodi prison between December 14, 1990 and August 2, 1992 when Justice Nurudeen Adekola found him guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging. The judge, according to him, admitted that there was no direct link between him and the death of the young lady; but circumstantial evidence tended to lend credence to his culpability. ‘’All the pleas by my lawyer fell on deaf ears of the judge’’, he said.
The once bright future of a man so exceptional in the use of leaves and roots to cure all ailments and diseases suddenly appeared to have crumbled like a pack of cards. ‘’There in the dock I told the judge that I would come out a free man one day except I have a hand in the death of my girlfriend’’, he recalled.
He was immediately whisked away to the dreadful Abeokuta prison and dumped in a condemned cell with seven other inmates. It was at the Abeokuta prison he gave his life to Christ, bolstering his faith in the omnipotence of God. ‘’ I seasoned myself in prayers and fasting. I would fast three days a week. I later increased it to seven days a week of dry fasting.’’, he said, adding, ‘’it was at this stage I started to dream powerful dreams. I dreamt that one of the inmates, Adebayo Shittu died and the next day he was executed’’.
‘’I began to hear the voice of God. God was communicating with me like two friends’’. But my faith was dampened at some stage when I started to dream that I was executed’’, he said. He explained that he saw Benjamin Ogundimu in his dream. Ogundimu was the chaplain who offered the last prayers for those to be executed in the prison. He said he became worried but rather than vacillate, he intensified his efforts in prayers and fasting.
No sooner than later, he said Ogundimu retired and a woman succeeded him. He said he became elated and relieved since it was a man that he saw in his dream that prayed for him at the execution point. ‘’My faith became stronger since I did not see a woman pray for me in my dream’’. He said in a day, six of his eight inmates were executed leaving out only himself and one other. He said a total of 1,220 inmates were executed in his presence in the prison with 47 of them insisting to the point of death that they were innocent of the charges for which they were being killed.
In a twist of fate, after 13 years in Abeokuta prison, Adepetu was transferred to Kirikiri maximum prison in Lagos where he met a young inmate who was suffering from Tuberculosis. The young man was already confined to a solitary cell in order to avert the spread of the disease in the prison. Out of pity, he said he volunteered to assist him. He used his proficiency in herbal medicine to cure him within nine days. ‘’I asked him to go back to the hospital after nine days to undertake another test. And he did; only to discover that he was totally cured of the ailment.
‘’The astounded doctor at the hospital said I should come to see him because he had never seen anything of such before. But I told him never to worry because I was a prisoner’’, he said. On October 1, 2007 the young man was consequently released by former governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao Akala. Upon release from prison, he got married to the secretary to the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande. As a mark of appreciation, the new couple however, took Dr Olusola Adepetu’s case to Jakande for his intervention. Jakande requested for his case file to determine his culpability and whether or not he deserved to be pardoned.
Jakande then contacted Akala and pleaded with him to take a favourable look at Adepetu’s case. Like an ordained antagonist, Adepetu said a top government official in Oyo State during Ajimobi’s first term in office, declined to support the move and dissuaded his principal from releasing him, saying he was a criminal. He was quoted to have said that if he was in government when Adepetu was in Agodi prison, he would have recommended his immediate execution. The government official however, allegedly told Adepetu’s emissaries, including Pastor Yetunde, that he would be released only if his principal won the second term election as governor.
Like a romantic scene in the James Bond film, while in the Kirikiri maximum prison, Adepetu proposed to his wife, Yetunde, a pastor with the Redeemed Church of God. Pastor Yetunde was a member of a Christian fellowship that visited prisons in Lagos State to pray and counsel the inmates. In March 2006, they had met at a church near the prison where Christian inmates worship. Ironically the church was built by the famous Ade Bendel, a Lagos-based Socialite. The Holy Spirit had also told Pastor Yetunde that her husband-to-be was in incarceration before she met the Olusola Naturalist Hospital exponent. ‘’Incarceration; but I never thought about a maximum prison cell’’, she said.
In what appears like a demonstration of an uncommon faith, they both agreed to be husband and wife pending the time providence would set him free from a death sentence. ‘’I had to conceal this from my parents and relatives including my daughter because as human beings, they would think probably, I was running mad and I did not want anybody to discourage me at that stage’’, Pastor Yetunde Adepetu said, sobbing. Adepetu said ‘’this woman is not supposed to be my wife, but my mother’’. He disclosed that it was while in prison that he lost his father and mother within a three- month interval. He was also poisoned by another inmate and miraculously survived it to the bewilderment of the doctor that treated him, Bode Thomas.
Mrs Taiwo Olanrewaju, of the Nigerian Tribune however, took up the fight for the freedom of Adepetu using her connection in the media. She also brought the case to the notice of top officials of the Ajimobi government who intimated the governor about the travails of the man for close to three decades.
Chief Mrs Oyediran, Papa Obafemi Awolowo’s daughter and many others like AIG Ade Ajakaiye, Abimbola Oluwaseun got involved at different points in time including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Both Jakande and Osinbajo wrote Ajimobi pleading for clemency for Adepetu. He was however released and pardoned on October 1, 2016 by the Oyo State governor.