EXCLUSIVE: From Kirikiri To Newsroom, Amazing Story of How Veteran Journalist, Mayor Akinpelu Became A Journalist

Mayor Akinpelu is one of Nigeria’s most popular and versatile journalists who has really carved a niche for himself in the pen pushing profession.

Lord Mayor, as he is popularly called, had made his mark in journalism thus becoming role models to many and becoming positive reference point for developmental journalism.

A publisher of repute, Lord Mayor celebrates people and their achievements and he can also be counted among those who used their pens to fight the military and enthroned democracy.

But did Mayor started his life as a journalist? No is the answer.

Many did not know that Lord Mayor started his professional life as an official of the Nigeria Prison Service, which incidentally was the leeway for his foray into the pen pushing profession.

Going back memory lane on his journey into journalism in an interview on ‘Eto Adedoyin’ anchored by popular actress Adedoyin Kukoyi shown on Africa Magic Yoruba, Mayor Akinpelu narrated his journey into journalism as monitored by thegazellenews.com

According to the veteran journalist, he had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) mandatory one year in Maiduguri, Borno State in the early 80s.

It was the time young and brilliant graduates are recruited into the public service during their service year and Mayor falls into this category.

He was headhunted by the Federal Civil Service and “despite my protestations, I found myself being posted to start my civil service career at the Nigeria Prison Service”.

On getting to the Prison Service, he was posted to the Kirikiri Maximum Prison as an official.

It turned out to be a divine posting for the young Mayor, and a date with destiny.

Mayor met three people who have either inspired his life or about to.

It was the time the late Afro beat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti was serving his jail term for alleged drug offence. It was also the time the duo of Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor were serving their prison sentences for contravening the dreaded Decree 4 enacted by the Buhari/Idiagbon military junta.

“I’ve always loved Fela and listened to his music a lot and seeing him in flesh, I moved closer to him. Similarly, I read about the incarceration and subsequent trial and conviction of both Thompson and Irabor, hence it was easy for me to bond with them,” he narrated.

But the higher authorities don’t like this. A prison official must not be seen getting closer to convicts hence Mayor was warned and eventually deployed to the medium prison of the same Kirikiri.

Eventually, the three convicts served their terms and were released but the story did not end there for the young Mayor Akinpelu, in fact, the story just began for him.

He kept in touch with the duo of Messrs Thompson and Irabor, communicating with them regularly.

Then, the clincher.

Some top military officers were accused of trying to topple the Babangida administration, the high profile accused being Babangida’s best man during his wedding, Major General Mamman Vatsa.

The alleged coupists were tried, found guilty and condemned to death. They were all brought to the condemned inmate cells of the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.

The young Mayor was still serving at the Kirikiri Prisons then as an official.

Tunde Thompson was the editor of the defunct Guardian Express, the evening newspaper of the Guardian Newspapers.

It was at the Kirikiri shooting range that Vatsa and the rest of the coupists were shot.

Both Thompson and Irabor remembered their young friend and Lord Mayor obliged by serving them hot exclusives from Kirikiri.

Thompson offered him the opportunity to start life as a journalist and he obliged.

He resigned from the federal civil service and was employed by the Guardian Newspapers Limited and today, we say the rest is history.

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