Olayiwola Kusamotu: Tribute to a brilliant legal luminary
Olayiwola Sunmonu Kusamotu was born on June 16, 1932 to the family of Oba Arisekola Kusamotu Oyewole II, Akirun of Ikirunland, Osun State, a high-ranking Oba in Yoruba land and a prominent member of the Council of Chiefs in the Western Region. His mother was Alhaja Awawu Adeoti, a merchant. He died on March 11, 2022.
He attended All Saints’ Primary School in Oshogbo, Osun State. He had his secondary education at the Abeokuta Grammar School. Thereafter, he proceeded to London after working briefly at Barclays Bank in Ibadan.
As a diligent student, he distinguished himself in his studies. He attended the London School of Economics, University of London where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and thereon passed his Bar examinations to become a member of the Society of the Inner Temple. He returned to Nigeria to attend the Nigerian Law School, which was introduced by the Tafawa Balewa government.
His contemporaries were the late Alao Aka Bashorun, Justice M. L. Uwais (former Chief Justice of the Federation; Fidelis Nwadiaolo (SAN), Oyeabor Obi (SAN), Evans Enwerem (pioneer Senate President in the Fourth Republic), Prof. A.B. Kasunmu to mention a few.
His career as a lawyer started at Ibadan and Oshogbo during the “wild wild West crisis” in the early 60s. His Hillma car WH 514 at the time was one that was unmistakable and fondly remembered. However, his practice was cut short when the military took over power in 1966. Despite this, he was not deterred by setbacks. He joined the Chambers of Chief Nekan Ademola and Olatawura in Ibadan and the struggle for a better life continued. After his initial foray into private practice, he pivoted briefly into corporate practice as legal adviser of Wemabod, the signature investment vehicle by which Yoruba land pioneered industrial development among the three regions that emerged in Nigeria at Independence in the late 60s.
Kusamotu was affectionately referred to by his peers as Kush of LSE or Kush of London. Later on in life, he was affectionately referred to by his professional peers and friends, old and young as Babanloya.
His name in Nigeria’s legal parlance was entrenched in the leading master and servant case of Kusamotu vs Wemabod Estate Limited (1976) NSCC 588 on wrongful dismissal of an employee and his right to an award of fair costs, when he had been put to the expense of challenging the employer by suing and emerging victorious in a law court.
He successfully appealed to the Supreme Court on the failure of the trial court to award cost in his favour, having found the termination of his employment wrongful. This case illustrated Olayiwola Kusamotu’s fidelity to seeking justice and being mindful of unwarranted tar on his reputation by following due process to vindicate his rights, not sparing the cost where justified.
He later returned to private practice, focusing on consultancy and solicitor’s work. In this regard, many legal practitioners of his time enjoyed his quality referrals. Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN) and Prof. Alfred Kasunmu (SAN) were his network advocates. He was a regular visiting professional guest on the famous Black Table at Chief Rotimi William’s Chambers in Ilupeju in the 80’s and 90’s. He served as a pioneer Director of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, a state-owned sole national telecommunications operator.
He was married to Pastor (Mrs.) Stella Abioye Kusamotu for over 52 years. Their marriage was blessed with children and grandchildren.
His wife said: “Though he was from a royal family, he very humble. He never liked to be addressed as a prince. Rather, he preferred being addressed as Mr. Kusamotu. He was a special breed, very liberal and simple-hearted, and he never wanted to hold grudges or malice against anyone. He was spiritually strengthened and a good psychologist. He never hindered my beliefs as a Christian, even though he was the Muslim. He loved peace, and despite being challenged by some family and friends openly concerning my faith, he never relented in supporting my beliefs. He was a strongman, very focused and a God-sent partner.”
Kusamotu was a hardworking Muslim who dedicated his life to serving humanity. He is fondly remembered by his wife, Mrs. Stella Abioye Kusamotu, children, grandchildren and sisters.