LADY MAIDEN IBRU’S 70TH BIRTHDAY AND MY LUCKY (NARROW) ESCAPE (PART II) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Saturday, 30 November 2019

LADY MAIDEN IBRU’S 70TH BIRTHDAY AND MY LUCKY (NARROW) ESCAPE (PART II)

- By Bashorun JK Randle



The press for reasons best known to their sponsors have gone to town with bizarre
tales with all sorts of zany variations and embellishments regarding my escape from
Our Saviour’s Church, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, through the back door. Nothing
so dramatic occurred. All that happened was that having recognised that we live in
dangerous times in a dangerous country and that what I was confronted with were
dangerous looking guys in dark glasses who offered me a ride in their car to the venue
(Balmoral Hall, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island) of the party to mark Lady Maiden
Ibru’s 70th birthday, I remembered that the first Lesson in life is never to accept a “lift”
from strangers.

My instinct was to play safe rather than be sorry afterwards. Anyway, having
retreated into the church, I found myself in the dressing room for the clergy. Once I
explained my plight, the Vicar (name withheld) promptly offered me his robe. May
God bless him abundantly. Having adorned the robe, I strode out confidently in
defiance of the adage: “The robe does not make the monk”. To my utter astonishment,
another detachment of dangerous guys were blocking the back exit. Thankfully, the
Vicar had thoughtfully lent me a huge cross which instantly infused me with the Holy
Spirit. Like a knife slicing through butter or the ocean waves parting to make way for
the true believer, I was safely in my car before my would-be ambushers realised that
I had floated right through them !!

On an ordinary day, it should take not more than ten minutes to drive from the church
to the venue of the party. However, I got stuck in traffic gridlock. One hour after
leaving the church, the traffic was about to grind to a complete halt. It was getting
dark.
Bashorun JK Raandle


Suddenly, out of nowhere a gang of miscreants started robbing the victims of the
traffic jam. They must have been high on drugs while going from one car to another
demanding money, jewellery, mobile phones and ATM cards. Amazingly, when they
reached my car they hailed me:
“Holy father, pray for us. We are your boys. Some of us are graduates but we have no
jobs.”
They did not harm me. I was being protected not by my borrowed robe but by the
Holy Spirit.
When I eventually reached the party, it was already in full swing. The birthday girl was
radiant with joy and vibrant with the fortification which only the Almighty can
provide.

Anyway, I was somewhat taken aback when I was confronted with what appeared to
be two parties (as an imitation of the political arena) going on – the bankers appeared
to be having a party of their own!! They were led by the Governor of the Central Bank
of Nigeria Mr. Godwin Emefiele (in flowery sports shirt, no tie, slacks and sports jacket
– all against the “Black Tie” dress code stipulated in the invitation card/access card.
Right next to him was seated Mr. Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Bank plc. who had
appointed me as Receiver Manager to recover U.S. $100 million from CAMAC/Allied
Energy and is currently attempting to “dis-appoint” me!! Jim as Managing Director
(and later Chairman) used to be Godwin’s (while he was Executive Director; Deputy
Managing Director and eventually Managing Director) boss. Now the positions have
been reversed. Godwin is the boss of all the bankers (except the banker to the Pope).
I also spotted Dr. Oba Otudeko (name withheld), Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria
Holding Plc, previously British Bank of West Africa which was founded in 1894. My
grandfather Dr. J.K. Randle was one of the founders and he was at the inaugural
shareholders meeting held at the Colony Hotel, London one hundred and twenty-five
years ago. 

The first branch and Head Office of the bank was located at 35 Marina,
Lagos next door to 31 Marina, Lagos which was the residence of Dr. J.K. Randle.
Mr. Tony Elumelu, Chairman of United bank for Africa was dressed casually (most
unlike him to ignore the “Black Tie” dress code). Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, former
managing director of Access Bank was hovering around (but no “Black Tie”). Firmly
seated and properly adorned in his “Black Tie” was Mr. Fola Adeola (name withheld),
the joint founder (along with Tayo Aderinokun) of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa (accompanied by his two daughters
Halima and Fatima) appeared to be the only non-banker amongst them. His credit
rating amongst bankers would appear to be higher than that of the Federal
Government of Nigeria or any of the State Governments. He is undoubtedly the
Bankers’ delight. There is a report/video on CNN and YouTube which captures him
recalling how when he first made it big time. Out of curiosity and thrill of the
experience, he withdrew ten million naira (or was it dollars?) in cash and took it home.
The following day he returned the money to the bank !!

His great-grandfather Alhassan Dantata (1877 – 1955) was an astute businessman
who was reputed to be the richest man in the North (and possibly the whole of
Nigeria). Just before the colonial government handed over power to Nigerians, Bank
of British West Africa “BBWA” (which later became Standard Bank of Nigeria and
subsequently First Bank of Nigeria Plc.), commenced its own succession plan. The
“Daily Times” newspaper carried a report that the bank which was heavily patronised
by Alhaji Dantata gave notice that the expatriates would be replaced by Nigerians.
During his visit to Lagos (from Kano), Alhaji Dantata visited the head office of the bank
at 35 Marina, Lagos and insisted on visiting the vault of the bank to confirm that the
huge sums he had deposited were intact.

He wielded enormous influence in the North and his business acumen was obviously
inherited by his children Alhaji Mahmud Dantata; Alhaji Sanusi Dantata; Alhaji Mudi
Dantata; Alhaji Ahmadu Dantata; Alhaji Aminu Dantata (my friend who must now be
close to 90 years) as well as his great-grandchildren of whom Aliko is the best known
and indeed his great-great-grandchildren, notable amongst them is Usman Dantata.
Greatness and legends are made of stuff like this.

Still dressed in my borrowed Vicar’s robe, I swept past the bankers only to be
confronted by the sight of some of the same old boys of St. Gregory’s College whom
I had been dodging. They were clearly having a whale of a time (a party of their own!!)
– as a separate enterprise. Exotic food accompanied with fine wine and exotic
champagne were in abundant supply. The spirit of the Holy Ghost was still with me.
Hence, I veered off to the back of the exquisitely decorated hall without being
spotted.

You could not miss the “Gregorians” – they all wore very dark glasses!! Anyway, my
luck was still intact as I was able to find a table well away from the old boys of St.
Gregory’s College.
Once seated, I dropped my guard. I was enjoying the party. As our children would say,
the party was a blast!!
I even spotted Chief Sam Amuka (name withheld) publisher of “The Vanguard”
newspaper and Prince Nduka Obaigbena (name also withheld), publisher of “ThisDay”
newspaper. Suddenly, from the far end of the hall, Dr. Charles Hammond (whose
name I am not at liberty to disclose) an old boy of St. Gregory’s College came to my
table and asked for two chairs for his older brother Victor and younger brother Guy
(who is a “Gregorian” in addition to being an ardent Arsenal Football Club supporter).

Too bad Arsenal has been on a losing streak in the English Premier League which has
led to the sacking of its manager Unai Emery.
Charles was wearing dark glasses and I made the mistake of believing that he had not
seen through my elaborate disguise. To the consternation and bewilderment of most
of the guests, it was the microphone of the musician (name withheld) which picked
up and broadcast the message Dr. Charles Hammond attempted to whisper to the
Gregorians:

“He is here. We have got him. We have blocked the entrance and all the exits. No way
he can escape this time.”
What happened next was truly amazing. A squad of hefty dark-goggled “Gregorians”
was despatched to my table and I was summoned to the “Gregorian” table to appear
before their “Capo”!!
When I attempted to protest that Nigeria is a free country and you cannot summon
an old boy of King’s College to appear before “Gregorians” just like that, they
produced a fake warrant. In the darkness of the hall, I was virtually lifted off my seat
and deposited before the “Capo” (who for obvious reasons cannot be named as he is
currently the second most senior judge at the Supreme Court of Nigeria)!!
Seated next to him was Justice Adeniyi Ademola (name withheld) who recently
(retired as a superior court judge of the Federal High Court based in Abuja).
Although I may be entirely wrong, it was Dr. John Abebe (name withheld) the former
President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association who intervened on my behalf.
He offered me a seat and a drink. I immediately blanked out. Perhaps my drink was
spiked. Somehow, I could hear the charges being read out by the “Capo”:
i.) King’s College old boys failed Nigeria

ii.) You (Bashorun J.K. Randle, name withheld) have been practising as a chartered
accountant for fifty years. How come you cannot tell Nigerians why and how
our external debts escalated to U.S. $25.7 billion. Who is going to pay it?
iii.) Better go and get hold of old boys of King’s College to pay the debt. They are
the smart Alecs who have ruined us.
iv.) But for the cross you are wearing, we would have recommended you for
crucifixion.
v.) Are you not aware that the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of
Education, Mr. Sonny Echono (name withheld) has confirmed that the Federal
Government has no exact data on the out-of-school children in Nigeria.
vi.) According to Mr. Waziri Adio (name must not be disclosed) Executive Secretary
of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) crude oil and
refined products worth U.S. $41.9 billion were stolen from Nigeria in the last
ten years.
A breakdown of the amount showed that the nation lost U.S. $38.5 billion on
crude theft alone; U.S. $1.56 billion on domestic crude and another U.S. $1.8
billion on refined petroleum products.
vii.) Saudi Arabia’s Aramco which is being run by civil servants is the most profitable
oil company in the world with annual profits of over U.S. $100 billion. Compare
that with its counterpart, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

viii.) According to Olusegun Adeniyi (name withheld), chairman of the Editorial
Board of “ThisDay” newspaper:
“Increasingly, our elections are no longer determined through votes cast by
citizens at polling units but by decisions of Judges, often on the basis of
technicality. Some rulings are so bizarre.”
ix.) Professor Adele Jinadu, an old boy of King’s College and a graduate of Oxford
University signed a report which has gone viral on the internet: “GUNPOINT
DEMOCRACY” – by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) which was
founded by late Professor Claude Ake, an old boy of King’s College:
“Ten people died during the recent gubernatorial election in Kogi State.
Malpractices marred the election. They include the hijack of electoral materials
by thugs, the kidnap of INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) ad
hoc staff, vote buying, attacks on observers, intimidation of voters, under-aged
voting, widespread stuffing of ballot boxes, ballot snatching and multiple
voting.”

On CNN, Professor Jinadu urged Nigerians to reclaim our electoral system from
the group of partisan outlaws and the direct complicity of the security services
in giving leeway to hoodlums to disrupt the elections.
x.) According to Kelechi Amakoh and Maria Sanchez Castelo of Aarkus University,
Denmark
“In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Institute for Statistics noted that there were 10.5 million children yet to be
enrolled in any formal education in Nigeria. In 2014, the statistical office
announced that there was a reduction in the number presented in 2010,
decreasing from 10.5 million to 8.7 million. In 2018, the Executive Secretary of

the Universal Basic Education Commission, Ahmed Boboyi, noted that the
number had increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million. Some politicians adhere
to 8.7 million, the NGO’s to 13.2 million, other experts to 10.5 million.”
xi.) How come King’s College old boys have refused to acknowledge the fact that
Dr. Michael Omolayole (an old boy of St. Gregory’s College and a graduate of
Oxford University) taught briefly at King’s College over six decades ago. Among
his students were late Chief Allison Ayida and Izoma Phillip Asiodu who both
graduated from Queen’s College, University of Oxford; and Otunba T. Adeoye
Tugbogbo who was at University of Cambridge for his post-graduate studies
after graduating from the University of Ibadan.
It was at that juncture that Chief Ziggy Azike SAN who was wearing a hood in addition
to very dark glasses as well as a mask in a futile attempt to fake his disguise
interjected. (On account of his height (6 feet five inches) and his girth, no one can
mistake Ziggy):
“King’s College has produced Vice-President Alex Ekwueme as well as General Emeka
Ojukwu, Head of State of Biafra and Senate President Bukola Saraki. The National
Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Major-General Babagana
Monguno (Rtd) is one of their old boys. Late Chief Ufot Ekaette, (principal secretary
to Head of State General Yakubu Gowon (1968–1975); the former Secretary to the
Government of the Federation (1999 – 2007); former Minister of Niger Delta) was an
old boy of the college. Regardless, their school is in very poor condition. Disgraceful.
Compare it to what we the old boys of St. Gregory’s College have done for our school
which could pass for a university campus.”

It was typical of Ziggy to surreptitiously distribute back copies of Forbes Magazine
with front page photographs of “KCOB”s who are billionaires – late Professor Emanuel
Edozien; Mr. Hakeem Belo-Osagie; Dr Bukola Saraki; Chief Bolu Akin-Olugbade etc.
Back to the “Capo”:
xii.) “Why are there so many abandoned projects all over the country? Close to U.S.
$ 100 billion has gone down the drain while the old boys of King’s College have
done nothing nor said anything.
In the meantime, over on the other side of Balmoral Hall, seated at the bankers table
and keeping the Governor of the Central Bank company were two old boys of St.
Gregory’s College – Chief Bode Emanuel (former Chairman of Eko Bank Limited) and
Professor Theo Ogunbiyi (former Director of Diamond Bank Plc who studied medicine
at University of Oxford). What is remarkable is that both their fathers were old boys
of King’s College. Along with Prince Olu Awogboro, they are Trustees of St. Gregory’s
College. All three have never wavered in their support for my campaign and triumph
as the President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association. That is civilization for
you. Friday night at the Boat Club on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi provides the platform for
the duel between King’s College and St. Gregory’s College. Not infrequently, the
referee is his Royal Highness Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the paramount ruler of
Egbaland. He makes no secret of his not being entirely impartial. Two of his sons are
old boys of King’s College.
While I was being held to ransom by the Capo, I beckoned to Prince Jacob Akindele to
come and rescue me. He was too pre-occupied with the toast of the birthday girl
which was being proposed by Olorogun Oscar Ibru. Oscar was in his element as he
recalled his fondness for and closeness to his late uncle Alex and his wife Maiden.

He went down memory lane (to much applause) – starting with the matriarch of the
Ibru family, his grandmother Chief (Mrs.) Janet Ibru who lived in Mushin but made
good money from selling “pure water”. It was from her that Chief Michael Ibru
(Oscar’s father), who would later become the patriarch of the Ibru clan, inherited his
business acumen.
Oscar got a standing ovation when he disclosed that his late father’s sense of humour
was phenomenal. For example, when he started his fish business, it was slagged off
as “Oku Eko” (dead fish) but rather than give up, he re-packaged it as “Eja Ibru, eja
yokoto”, (Ibru fish delivering unlimited satisfaction). That was when the business
turned around and he started making serious money. Not only that, when his friends
took him to task for quitting his cushy job at United Africa Company (now UAC of
Nigeria Plc) with a company car provided, to go into the “stinking and smelly odour”
of selling fish, his riposte was:
“That is the smell of money”!!
He added, “When the money, is in your pocket, it has no smell at all.”
It was all riveting stuff.
Late Chief Michael Ibru had swagger. Not only was he vastly wealthy, he was debonair
and suave. He educated all his brothers and sisters.
Another interesting development was that Arc (Dr.) Lanre Towry-Coker who I had
taken it for granted would be on my side made it very clear that his loyalty was to St.
Gregory’s College, the alma mater (class of 1933) of his late father, John Olaotan
Towry-Coker who graduated from University of Durham, Britain. He was seconded by
the British Government to the Malay Singapore Federation as the Planning Adviser to
Tunku Abdul Rahman, the First Prime Minister of the Federation

As for Olorogun (Dr.) Sunny Kuku his often-repeated claim that he has supernatural
powers on account of being both a native doctor (Babalawo) and an orthodox medical
practitioner with numerous international awards to his credit, when it came to
launching a rescue mission to spirit me away from imminent danger, he headed for
the dance floor and the company of bankers on account of having being the Chairman
of Ecobank Nigeria Plc (no dividends for ten years!!).
I realized that I was in serious trouble when the “Capo” (justice of the supreme court)
repeated that but for the huge cross I was wearing, I would have been sent off for
crucifixion unless I was ready to surrender my mandate or at least give an undertaking
that I would not seek a second (or THIRD TERM!!) as President of St. Gregory’s College
Old Boys Association.

Unknown to the Capo, according to late Engineer Adenrele Adejumo who was the
project engineer when Victoria Island was being developed, the “Victoria” in the
name of the Island belonged to Victoria Randle (wife of Dr. J.K. Randle) who was a god
daughter of Queen Victoria of England; and she was brought up in Buckingham Palace
and attended Cheltenham Ladies' College. Indeed, BBC journalist Zainab Bedawi has
produced a documentary/video which spells it all out. Anyway, the island which was
designated as Crown Land was meant to be a wedding gift to Victoria Randle.
Up until the late 1950’s the only three houses on Victoria Island belonged to pioneer
doctors – Dr. J.K. Randle; Dr. Akinola Maja and Dr. A. J. Pearce respectively.
I remembered that Engineer Adejumo had told me that when Federal Palace Hotel
was being built specially for foreign guests who had been invited to Nigeria’s
Independence on 1st October 1960, a secret tunnel was built on the site now occupied
by Balmoral Hall, the venue of the party.

Fortunately for me, seated amongst the “Gregorians” was Chief Bolu Akin-Olugbade
(an old boy of King’s College) the shipping, oil and gas magnate. He read law at the
University of Cambridge. He whispered to me that I needed to leave straightaway and
if I could find my way out, I should make a bee-line for his bullet proof car with the
specialised number plate “BOLU 4” (plate number withheld) which was parked right
at the entrance of the Balmoral Hall. He would send a text message to his driver to be
ready to drive me to safety.

Luck was again on my side. The Capo and his fellow enforcers were briefly distracted
by the cutting of the birthday cake which was conducted by Alhaji Aliko Dangote. I
rapidly found my way to the secret tunnel. Once I emerged, Bolu’s driver was waiting.
He led me to the magnificent Rolls Royce Cullinan which was the perfect vehicle to
spirit me to safety to Owu, Ogun State from where my ancestors hailed, according to
our family’s cognomen:\

“Omo owu, omo odo Sokori”
(River Sokori runs through Owu Kingdom)
It turns out that both Bolu and I hold very senior Chieftaincy titles in Owu Kingdom by
the special grace of the Almighty and his Royal Highness Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu,
the Olowu of Owu. Bolu is the Aare Onakanfo.
Since my lucky escape, I have been savouring the fresh air and sublime peace of Owu
as well as the generous hospitality of Kabiyesi the Olowu of Owu. I am thoroughly
enjoying my hibernation and spiritual rejuvenation. The local dishes, especially fresh
fish are superlative. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, former President of Nigeria is
from Owu. He ranks second to the Olowu of Owu. Two of his children attended King’s
College where their academic records placed them firmly in the category of geniuses.

I shall not resurface until Tuesday 17th December 2019 to celebrate my fifty years as
a Chartered Accountant and Thanksgiving in memory of my father late Chief J.K.
Randle at 2pm at the Cathedral Church of Christ Marina, Lagos.
I remain grateful. Anyone who is not grateful is a great fool.
Since I took refuge in Owu, the only occasion when I ventured out was under cover of
darkness to keep a dental appointment at the clinic of Dr. Bode Karunwi in Ikoyi,
Lagos. Having strapped me firmly in the dental couch, he brought out the largest
syringe I have ever seen and insisted that I needed an injection. He kept repeating:
“Its not going to hurt you.”
He then broke into raucous laughter

“I am an old boy of St. Gregory’s College. We are going to deal with all those who
abetted your escape from Lady Maiden Ibru’s 70th birthday party. The Capo wants you
dead or alive. The choice is yours. We have got you where we want you. There is no
escape. All my staff have closed for the day.”


- Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa  [Region. He is currently the Chairman, J.K. Randle Professional Services. Email: jkrandleintuk@gmail.com

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