Posted by Adedotun Adetunji | 14 August 2014 | 3,464 times
I pay tribute to my friend, brother comrade, and one of the leading lights of our profession, Barrister Bamidele Aturu, who went to higher glory on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
Friends and comrades, I wish to let you know that we are not to mourn our departed hero; we are not to wail and cry about what could, should or would have been, had Bamidele been here with us. But, we are here to celebrate Bamidele’s life: so glorious a life, so fulfilling a life, so impactful that heaven itself was in a hurry to bring it home.
We may say that Bamidele died at a young age of 49 years, but the measure of life is not how long you live, but the impact you have made, no matter the length of life God may wish to give you. Gentlemen and ladies, I wish to declare to you that Bamidele may have gone ahead of us, but he died, having fulfilled his God-given assignment and call in life.
Let us reflect a little about the life of our dear brother: how he lived his life, the creed he professed and if his words truly matched his deeds. In our profession, people say, “Lawyers are liars.” If there was a lawyer who is not a liar, Bamidele was one; if there was anyone who walked his talk, my friend Bamidele was one.
We have seen many activists whose sole aim is to use the commonwealth of the people to enrich themselves. Bamidele was an activist with the fear of God, and he was a genuine, true and committed fighter of the cause of the poor.
Please, permit me to cite the vision and mission of Bamidele Aturu &Co.:
To serve the Almighty God in all ways but in particular by defending the poor
To serve the cause of social justice by effectively and competently using the law, in spite of its limitations
To defend the underprivileged, the dispossessed, the oppressed and the abused against the rich and the powerful
To be a leading voice in the struggle against all forms of discrimination and undue privileges
To participate in all forms of actions aimed at social reform and change.
I submit to you that Bamidele lived his mission in words and deeds. During his lifetime, Bamidele’s mission was his driving force in life and the creed by which he lived. He made no pretensions about his purpose in life and that is, to live and die for the cause of justice. It did not matter if justice was for the rich or the poor, he defended them all.
The legendary writer, William Shakespeare, said in Julius Ceasar that, Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.
Bamidele was not a coward. And there were instances when he could have chosen to “die,” because it may bring monetary rewards or because it was politically correct to do so. For example, when he refused to shake the hands of Col. Lawan Gwadabe during his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) passing out parade. Yet, he stood on the path of justice, honour and integrity even though it would cost him an arm and a leg.
Let me tell you a little about my friend. I was with Bamidele at the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos in 1995. He was a little older than me but that did not bring any gap between us. Even then, he seemed to have charted the course which he would follow in life. I remember I used to laugh when Bamidele would insist on fighting for human rights.
Then I believed he was playing to the gallery. Years later, I was proved wrong. Bamidele, in spite of the challenges and tribulations, stood firm and courageous. You could go to battle with your two eyes closed with Bamidele by your side, he was that dependable.
Since July 9, encomiums have been pouring in from friends and foes alike. My belief is that whatever is said about Bamidele’s character and life, he deserved them all and much more.
Those who will miss him are many. But, I dare say that the poor, the indigent, those who seek justice without being able to afford it would miss him more.
We should all find lessons in the life lived by our comrade. Can we truly say we have lived the true life? Can we say we have fought the cause of the poor and the oppressed? (Although) I said we should celebrate his life, but I must confess that I will miss him dearly as a true friend.
Bamidele Aturu, you have died as a prince and the heavens themselves announce your passage. Most importantly, you found peace with your God, and we are assured you are resting in the bosom of Him (whom) you served with your skills, talents and life.
This is where the family must find the courage and consolation to bear this irreparable loss. I believe that God that chose to take him away at this time has a plan and purpose for those he left behind. My prayer is that Almighty God will keep watch over the family.
We must find a way to immortalise him so that what he stood for will not die with him. In our hearts, we must find a space to keep his memories fresh. In our little ways, we must let parts of him continue to live through us by continuing to live by the creeds and deeds of our departed brother.
Let me leave you with this indelible remark Julius Ceasar: “Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
•Adedotun Adetunji is chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu Branch.
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