Thursday, 28th September 2023

20 years after, family relives memories of Adeife, Akinola Akindeko

By Bertram Nwannekanma
20 April 2023   |   4:10 am
Twenty years after, two young and promising children were snatched away by the cold hands of death, the family said they might have died, but not forgotten.

Adeife and Akinola

Twenty years after, two young and promising children were snatched away by the cold hands of death, the family said they might have died, but not forgotten.

On April 20, 2003, Adeife, 14, and Akinola Sodipo-Akindeko, 10, were killed during an attack on the convoy of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

During their short lifetime, they left an indelible mark in their own small way.

That they achieved so much, even without the rave of the social media , speaks volumes about their personalities.

Their mother, Dr. Mrs. Abisola Sodipo-Akindeko Clark, said her children’s memories live on in the hearts of people, who loved them and in those whose lives they had touched.

According to her, “My late daughter was head girl of the Greensprings School, Lagos. She was just 14 years old. Her brother was a football star and 10 years old.”

Adeife, whose name means ‘Crown of love’, was described as ‘the most loving, kind and compassionate girl, whose smile brought light where there was darkness.’

In her tribute, the mother said:  “Adeife was a true leader and role model and her appointment as head girl of her school, Greenspring School, Lagos, even though short-lived, was a testimony to this.

“Twenty years on and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how you live.

“Adeife, you have touched countless lives in your lifetime, and even after your death, you live through your good deeds.

“In your memory we remember those who are less able in society and continue the work you started. An angel in disguise – my Angel and my Crown of Joy (Adeife).

“Akinola, my beloved son , brother and the baby of the family. I cherish the virtuous life you lived and the memories you have given us. May I get the chance to see you in heaven,”  she added.

Adeife was passionate for charity work and caring for under-privileged people.

She would get friends, family and her school involved in raising money for different causes.

One of the projects , she spearheaded, was to raise money for the completion of a school in a deplorable state that she and her friends stumbled upon while on an excursion.

For this,  Lagos State government renamed the  school, Abule Okuta Secondary School, Bariga, after her.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of former Lagos State governor and president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, cut the ribbon at the reopening of the school, renamed Adeife Sodipo-Akindeko Memorial School.

Adele was also a ‘mother’ and at her young age,  ‘adopted’ a primary three pupil of that school, a rare feat even among well-to-do adults and politicians.

Also, Akinola was a selfless, caring and remarkably bright boy. Known as an 11 year- old ‘whose lively and playful disposition was contagious’, he would always lift up spirits with his laughter.

At his young age,  he knew what was right and what was wrong, condemning all acts of violence and repeating the saying, ‘a real man never hits a girl’.

To keep alive their  dream of a better world,  where everyone would live in peace, the family established a foundation, titled: “Adeife and Akinola Memorial Child Foundation”, shortly after their demise.

The foundation launched in Lagos, and chaired by former President  Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), has continued to continue the voluntary work the late angels were doing when they were alive.

Adeife and Akinola believed that the world would change, only if the children of today were taught to live according to basic human values, particularly love.

Then when they mature and take their places in the many diverse institutions nationally and internationally; they will be prepared to put into practice the moral training they had in addition to regular academic knowledge.

Dr. Akindeko Clark , a  former Ogun State Commissioner for Health and later Trade and Industry before the sad incident , once said in an interview that she watched her children dying, but could do nothing about it.

She said: “Iyabo and I were both travelling from Lagos to Abeokuta. Iyabo decided to sit in my car and suggested that my children should move into her own car with a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) number. I did not see anything wrong with that. So, I agreed.

“On getting to a bushy section of the Lagos – Abeokuta road, some armed men, suddenly emerged from the bush and started spraying the Senator’s car, which was carrying the children, killing them instantly.

“It is painful and unfortunate, but I have found comfort in God,” She added.

Police investigation then had suggested that the siblings were killed by one of the gangs working for Beninois trans-border robbery kingpin, Hammad Tidjani.

The kingpin specialised in snatching cars from Nigeria and selling them in Cotonou, the capital of neighbouring Benin Republic.

However, the mother of the deceased children never believed that her children were killed by armed robbers, but by hired assassins, whose target was Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Abisola said she believed that her children were still living and that the establishment of the foundation was informed by that belief.      She added that the existence of such a foundation was a dream,  her kids had while they were alive, even when it was uncommon.

The foundation had helped in the completion of Adeife Sodipo-Akindeko Memorial School, providing scholarships for students of the school as well as other orphanage homes.

The foundation intends to extend its project by providing free mobile clinics to orphanages and unveiling a mobile Anaemia and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) detection clinic, which would be made available to all registered orphanages in Lagos State free of charge.

Adeife would have been 34 years old, while her brother, Akinola would have been 30, but God had a different purpose for them and thus their exit from this world. May their gentle souls continue to rest in peace.