Sunday 13 November 2022


October 1 was also the anniversary of the disappearance of Saibu Ayinde Bakare. The popular Juju musician, Ayinde Bakare, disappeared exactly 50 years today.  He was born in 1912 in Lagos but his father was from the Balogun Ajikobi family of Ilorin and for 37 years, he entertained a cross section of fans every where.

It was Sunday, October 1, 1972 and Ayinde Bakare and his Band had a day gig at a wedding event at Isale-Gangan area of Lagos Island and was also billed for a night engagement at Ijebu-Ode. As it was  usually the case, some members  of the Band had gone ahead to Ijebu-Ode  to set up for the evening event while the Lagos show was going on. It was while the Band was on break that the unthinkable happened. It was believed that Ayinde Bakare retreated to the backstage during the break  when some unknown persons reportedly invited him for some discussions away from his Band members and he was never seen again. Some initially thought that he had left with a woman for an amorous hook up when he did not come back after the break and his deputy, Ayanniyi Atanda took over the leadership and they completed the gig. When he did not come back, some thought he had gone ahead to Ijebu Ode only to get there and not finding  him there. All efforts to locate him proved fruitless until a few days later.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, 4th October 1972, the police had found a body floating on the Lagos Lagoon near Bonny Camp in Victoria Island and the police who found the body were unable to connect the body they had found  with the missing musician. The body was dumped among other unclaimed bodies and was given a mass burial by the Lagos City Council at the Atan Cemetery.

His son Shina, also a musician  received a telegram at where he was in Gongola from his mother and he returned to Lagos to join others in the search for his father. When he arrived, he was able to inform police that his father had a tattoo on the inner part of his right hand with the inscription A.S. Bakare and this immediately jumped into the mind of the police officers who found the floating body that was buried in the mass grave at Atan cemetery.

The body was exhumed and his son was able to identify his father’s body and it was released to the family for a decent burial but not before an autopsy was carried out. The Consultant Pathologist, Dr. Nasirudeen Olaseni Akinlade (RAO Hospital, Surulere) put the cause of his death as drowning. There were a few theories as to how he met his death.

The autopsy showed that he drowned but how ? I met an elderly man in the 90s who knew him when they were growing up. He believed that when the band was on break, he needed to go to the toilet and he went to do it by the sea and was probably swept away  by the waves while he was not concentrating. Some claimed that he loved women and among those he slept with were married women and probably an aggrieved husband planned his death and to his family, he had problems with some members  of his band who probably killed him. This was what came out before the coroner’s inquest set up by the government to unravel the circumstances of his death, the Coroner, Mrs. Grace Akinboboye, commenced her assignment on Monday, April 30th, 1973.

One of Bakare’s wives, Risikat Dabiri, told the Coroner that she suspected two members of Bakare’s Meranda Orchestra. She said she witnessed the quarrel between the two and her husband over the sharing of 60 naira engagement proceeds. She further buttressed this by claiming that the Band was still playing at social events while their leader was missing.

A former deputy leader of Bakare’s Band, Daniel Akinola and two serving band members (Ayanniyi Atanda – current Band deputy leader and Michael Gasper a drummer of the Band) were the principal suspects that appeared before the Coroner. Daniel Akinola claimed he saw Bakare last in May 1972 (5 months before his death); the Coroner however ordered him to be present daily until the Inquest gave its verdict. For Atanda who admitted that he directed the sharing of the Band’s Isale-Gangan engagement proceeds, he was ordered to be detained for perjury. In his own case, Gasper who was accused of wishing Bakare dead in previous utterances denied such wish to his ‘guardian’.

The coroner found that Ayinde Bakare died from drowning and cast suspicion on two members of his Band who had complained about being underpaid, but said there was no incontrovertible evidence as to their involvement. She was convinced that the principal suspects knew more than they revealed about the death of Bakare. ‘It is my confirmed opinion that both Atanda and Gasper knew more about the case than they revealed before the coroner and same goes for Daniel Akinola who testified before me with a smearing contemptuous face, telling nothing but lies,’ Mrs. Akinboboye ruled.

The inquest was unable to report on who killed him because of lack of evidence. Only God knows whichever of those theories contributed to his death. His death still remains a mystery up till today and may he rest in peace.

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