INVESTIGATION: Lawyer indicted for fraud in the UK nominated as judge of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal Headquarters

On February 22, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, published the names of 12 lawyers it said had been shortlisted for appointment as Court of Appeal judges after an intensive two-day screening exercise that involved 187 lawyers.

In a statement announcing the shortlist, the NBA explained that the exercise was in response to the call by the President of the Court of Appeal for it to nominate “suitably qualified candidates” to be considered for appointment as judges into the second highest court in the country.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation has revealed that one of the finalists, Rita Chris-Garuba, formerly Rita Kuku, in 2000, was indicted for a series of professional misconduct, including putting clients’ funds to her own use, and a £250,000.00 mortgage fraud in the United Kingdom where she worked as a solicitor.

After an indictment, the Law Society of England and Wales described Mrs. Chris-Garuba as lacking the “integrity”, probity and trustworthiness” expected of a legal practitioner, and subsequently struck her name off the Roll of Solicitors.

The Law Society is the professional body of solicitors in England and Wales. It regulates conducts of solicitors as well as protects the public from dishonest practitioners.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba was admitted to the Nigerian bar in 1980. She moved to the UK in 1995.

After practising as a registered foreign lawyer in the country for a while, she qualified as a solicitor in August 1998. But barely six months after she was admitted as a solicitor, she ran into trouble after she, alongside her partner, Axel Nares, was charged with fraud, and “conducts unbefitting of a solicitor” before a three-person tribunal of the Law Society chaired by J.C Chesterton.

A record of the trial obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the Law Society showed that the charges against Mrs. Chris-Garuba and Mr. Nares were filed by Peter Cadman of the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors on January 27, 1999. Mr. Cadman further presented a supplementary list of allegations against the duo on February 20, 2000.

Both accused were charged with utilising clients’ funds for their own use; drawing money from client’s account above what was permitted by Rule 7 of the Solicitors Accounts Rule 1991, and the failure to keep account properly written up for the purpose of Rule 11.

They were also charged with the misappropriation of clients’ funds. Other charges against them were the use of client’s fund for the purpose of other clients, and unreasonable delay in the conduct of professional business.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba was specifically charged with misleading a client as well as obtaining a mortgage by deception.

The trial opened on June 20, 2000, but hearing proper started on June 23, 2000 at 10 a.m. at the Court Room, Gate House 1, Farringdon Street, London.

The charges against Mrs. Chris-Garuba and Mr. Nares were considered so grave that the hearing continued for over 10 hours and did not end until 8.20 pm.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba did not raise any objection to the long hearing, she even turned down an offer by the tribunal to take a break, saying she had no need for one.


The investigation into the accounts of her law firm, Temple Chambers, by the Law Society’s Monitoring and Investigative Unit began in July 1997, at the time when Mrs. Chris-Garuba was a registered foreign lawyer in the UK handling investment matters.

The tribunal was told that Mrs. Chris-Garuba obtained a mortgage by deception.

In March 1996, she purchased a property at luxury High View Gardens, Cyprus with the help of a £150,000.00 mortgage obtained from Preferred Mortgages using her full name at the time, Rita Ifeyinwa Kuku.

However, she fell short of her mortgage repayment and accumulated arrears.

Not wanting to lose the property due to accumulated arrears, she arranged for the sale of the property to herself, using her maiden name, Chukwuma, with a mortgage advance from another company, Abbey National Building Society.

However, the date of birth she used when applying for the first mortgage with her married name was different from the one she used when applying with her maiden name.

When applying for the new mortgage, she used an identity card that identified her as a marketing consultant instead of a lawyer. She also used different addresses in the applications.

She admitted to the tribunal that she was both the vendor and purchaser of the property and that she had kept accounts under her married name and maiden name. She said she had put in £100,000.00 of her own into the property.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba explained that just before the transactions, she had been divorced from her husband and had suffered “considerable trauma” and was in a sorry emotional state”. She told the tribunal that she and her children did not receive any maintenance from her former husband and that she was scared he would be able to claim a substantive portion of her property as a result of the divorce.

She further told the tribunal that the new mortgage cut her monthly repayment from £2,071.00 to £1,000.00. She said after rebuying the property, she continued to repay the new mortgage faithfully and did not fall into arrears.

On why she used different dates of birth when applying for the mortgages, she explained that it was a genuine error or the misreading of her handwriting and that she had not intended to use an incorrect date of birth.

On why she used a different address to apply for the new mortgage, she claimed that she only became aware that her broker used a different address upon receiving the statement of offer from Abbey National Building Society. She admitted that the use of a different address instead of her residence would create the impression that she had hatched an elaborate charade to deceive, which was not what she intended.

Her explanation fell flat on its face as the tribunal described the mortgage deal as being “extraordinary”.

“The tribunal commented in particular upon the extraordinary behaviour of Mrs. Kuku in arranging a transaction in which she apparently transferred property from herself to herself using her married name on one hand and her maiden name on the other hand and where she went to the length of instructing separate firms of solicitors to act in connection with the sale and with the purchase. The tribunal had no doubt at all that that had been a dishonest course of dealing,” the Law Society stated.


As at July 8, 1997, an investigative accountant discovered a minimum shortage of £1,841.68 in a client’s account handled by Mrs. Chris-Garuba. She told the tribunal that she had partly paid back the money on July 30, 1997 by a lodgement of £840.00 from her own money. She said the remaining money will be covered by charges for cost due to the firm.

The tribunal was also told that Mrs. Chris-Garuba made the following withdrawals totalling £5,717.69 from a client’s account in contravention of the Solicitors Accounts Rule: an unallocated £4,550.00 was transferred from client to office bank account; £950 unallocated payment for personal use, £217.96 in bank interest incorrectly debited to client’s account.

Further, the investigative accountant discovered that between March 24 and June 3 1997, six transfers varying between £200.00 and £1,550.00 and totalling £4,500.00 were made from client account to office account. The discovery also showed that none of the withdrawal was allocated to any individual account in the client ledger.

During the hearing, Mrs. Chris-Garuba’s only explanation for why the unallocated transfers were made from client’s accounts was that they might have been made in error, a record of the trial noted.

In one instance, the tribunal was told that Mrs. Chris-Garuba acted for a client simply identified as Mr. H, who purchased a property in Manchester worth £67,450.00. The transaction was closed on June 3, 1998. On June 9, 1998 the client’s account was charged £1,050 for stamp duty. When queried about the transaction, Mrs. Chris-Garuba admitted that the payment did not represent the statutory one per cent charged for stamp duty. She claimed the payment was not related to the matter.

“Mrs. Kuku (Mrs. Chris-Garuba) was at the time of the inspection unable to attribute the payment of £1,050.00 to any other client matter and agreed that the payment gave rise to a shortage on client’s bank account of £1,050.00,” the Law Society noted.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba admitted to the tribunal that she did not keep proper account as stipulated by Solicitors Accounts Rule 11.

She also admitted that she drew money from clients’ accounts in excess of what she was permitted. But she denied that she used the money withdrawn for her own purposes.

But the tribunal ruled that she had done as exactly as she was accused.

“It was clear from the Monitoring and Investigation Officer’s report that the books of the account of the firm had not been kept properly written up and that Rules 7 and 8 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules had not been complied with,” the tribunal stated.

“The Tribunal found that Mrs. Kuku had utilised clients funds for her own purposes as that was the inevitable consequence of money being transferred from client account to her own account.”

The tribunal then ruled that Mrs. Chris-Garuba and her partner, acted in manner unbecoming of solicitors, and in ways contrary to what the public has come to expect from legal practitioners and thus ruled that they be struck off the roll of solicitors.

“The Tribunal considered it right in respect of each of the respondents that he and she should be struck off the Roll of solicitors. Neither of them had behaved with the integrity, probity and trustworthiness which members of the public were entitled to expect, and the profession demanded, of a member of a solicitors’ profession.”

When reached for comment, Mrs. Chris-Garuba answered her phone but ended the call midway into our enquiry. She did not answer subsequent calls made to her neither did she reply a text message sent to her number asking for comment.

When contacted, the President of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, said he was abroad and requested that enquiry be sent via his email. When he finally responded, Mr. Mahmoud said, “We are aware of the issues affecting the candidate referred to in your mail and the NBA will be issuing a formal statement on the matter soon.”


Mrs. Chris-Garuba, who is married to a former military governor of Bauchi State, Chris Garuba, alongside her husband, was also mentioned in the notorious Halliburton bribery scandal.

A leaked file about the scandal obtained by French Newspaper Le Monde and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed a strong link between Mrs. Chris-Garuba, her husband, and a mysterious individual identified as Abu Shuiabu and Jeffery Tesler, a UK lawyer who used a network of secretive banks and offshore tax havens to funnel $182 million in bribes to top Nigerian officials in exchange for a $6 billion contract to build Nigeria’s liquefied natural gas company.

The names of Mr. Shuaibu and the Garubas were listed along with Mr. Tesler’s in an account named Bridlington Enterprises Limited, a shell company based in Gibraltar.

The mysterious 65-year-old Shuaibu, who gave his address as P.O Box 53322, Ikoyi WAN-Lagos, ran Bridlington’s accounts, making several cash withdrawals from HSBC in Switzerland.

On November 11, 2005 – he visited the bank to request a transfer of $600,000 to an unknown individual.

Despite the indictments, however, Mrs. Chris-Garuba, and the 11 other nominees, await confirmation by the President of the Court of Appeal for their new positions.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to contain the reaction of the NBA President. The reaction was sent by email after the story was published, thus leading to the edit.


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  • musa aliyu

    Even in the jungle this kind of thing is unheard of.

  • musa aliyu

    Shared as received: Peaceful demonstration 2 suport Hamid Ali and Magu on saturday 25/3/2017 nationwide :::::war against Senate and Reps follow up… by nigerian youths…Pls :share it to all internet groups and contacts

    • khalil

      If you are serious, Why not demonstrate to the DSS who authored the report the Senate acted upon??
      Why not demonstrate to the villa to find out why an arm of the presidency gave a damming report on a nominee forwarded by same presidency??

      • Sanssouci

        May God bless you!!!!!!!!!

      • Opekete

        Good point

    • shittu na BMC member you be ni?
      No wonder!

    • alhaja tunsj soyemi(iya basira

      That is what you get when vote for a party without scrutinising the candidates.

      • AdeAdeAde

        Which people? I think the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has more representation than all of them put together. A beg look for another word to use.

        • alhaja tunsj soyemi(iya basira

          Separation of powers!
          Besides, the president performed woefully in some parts of the country during d last elections. He no get national spread/appeal. He dey even fear go some parts of d country!
          Thats why they can override a presidents Veto.

    • thusspokez

      Typical Nigerian indiscipline. Why the off topic? And where is the forum moderator when one is needed?

    • donMe$$i

      ‘peaceful demonstration’…’WAR against Senate & Reps’

      Haba maigida! which one is ‘peaceful WAR’ again??

      Why do you people like WAR-WAR like this??

    • Alpachino Roar

      You are on your own….when u want to protest against Fulani herdsmen killing calk on the youths.

    • Okokondem

      I have a better idea since you seem to have issues with the members of our national assembly (who doesn’t). Rather than make Magu and the customs guy the basis for a peaceful mass demonstration, why not base it on their most egregious crimes against the country and the people. Why not make the teem their outrageous salaries and allowances.

      I’m in agreement that the way to fight the scourge of corruption is to confront it head on. Unfortunately, with a judiciary lacking in credibility and integrity the only option left to confront corruption is the masses to embark in massive, peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience aimed at crippling the broken system. That would get the attention of the status quo and hopefully let them know business as usual is no longer acceptable by the people.

      • Okokondem

        Sorry, that’s ‘theme’ of course.

    • JOHN

      Terribly ignorant and unpatriotic and corrupt Nigerian youths.

  • Sanssouci

    Excellent Investigative journalism PT! something one will think the NBA would have done before forwarding her name for consideration.

  • Du Covenant

    Well done, let her just be removed from the list and put a more decent person instead.

  • David Adeniran

    This woman is an high profile criminal, she was formally, married to Chief Kuku who is one of the owners of Eko Hospital. The man divorced her in 1998 due to her shady and unfaithful activities.

    • Alpachino Roar

      Abi she divorced the man because of the man’s dubious lifestyle.

      • David Adeniran

        Nope, the man was the one who filed divorce petition!

  • Kwenu



  • dami

    Wasere! Nice one PT…this is what you should be doing, clearly she is not fit and proper to be a court of appeal judge…otherwise it will be like Justice Ademola / Rita ajumogobia / Ngwuta….Justice to the highest bidder!!
    Other people on that list should be properly vetted as well…it’s amazing how career criminals get very sensitive jobs.

    • Alpachino Roar

      See ur life….ngwuta ,ademola haven’t been found guilty so why say rubbish. OK you are a homosexual. And that is the truth.

      • dami

        Damn…your lunacy is worthy of serious laughter…looool….continue to wallow in ignorance.

        • Alpachino Roar

          U have been exposed and will soon be arrested.

    • Bosede

      What about the names of the suicide bombers? Shouldn’t PT expose or write about Nigeria’s anonymous suicide bombers?

  • Manmbombano123

    PT thank you for this expose, hope the people that will make the final call will take this into context before deciding to make her a judge

  • John Abayomi

    What is wrong with Nigeria? must everyone in power and position of authority be corrupt? “fantastically corrupt” isn’t a good enough description, what a country!

  • ijelejames

    Only in Nigeria. Her name should be dropped immediately. We already have enough corrupt judges in our justice system. Nonsense!

  • Spoken word

    are we for real in this country.

    • Julius

      No, we not !

    • Unspoken Truth

      when last did you listen to Buhari make a speech? Have u ever had any inspiration from his speech? Even the statement he gave on return from treatment for his terminal ailment was a prepared speech read from a paper. Imagine! Even a 3 minute speech to thank those few Nigerians who prayed for him was written on paper otherwise he will not be able to make sense and coordinate his words. So my brother, we are for REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

      • Spoken word

        the country is a true reflection of us.

  • Haba mallam

    Can some one please tell PM times that Nigeria is no longer a British colony, what she did in England cannot be her against here in Nigeria because we are a sovereign independent nation just like the British never hold theirs for anytime they did on our land, in fact they celebrate and reward them. The looted funds in billions of pounds and dollars are still in British banks today’s token in collaboration of the British and sometimes with the involvement of the British government but here you’re castigating our own for a petty crime compare to what they did here. Blackman wake, Africans wake from your sleep.

    • El Patron

      Obviously you dont get the point at all. Once a fraudster always a fraudster. It might be a case that matters to you that she will hear tomorrow, and having received bribe from your opponent, rule in their favor. This is the same thing people like you said about Ibori when he became Governor of Delta State, we all know the rest of the story

      • Haba mallam

        I don’t where you live but ask your friends in US or UK about her crimes again, it was in UK, where the justice system cannot be relied upon in Nigeria to deny someone a position he or she is qualified fir because their judiciary is notorious for discrimating and being bias in cases that involve black people.

        • tundemash

          Shut up dunce ! I live in the UK and if you aren;t a rogue, u wouldn;t even find yourself in front of a judge in teh first place. Where do u live cl0wn ?

    • marc umeh

      I can’t believe any right thing person will have this type of opinion.

      • Haba mallam

        American and British justice system cannot be use in Nigeria, especially when they known to discriminate against black people, think for a minute before you rush to judgement.

        • Bull

          So stealing, fraud and other such malfeasance are a matter of race ? So you are found guilty in Europe but it should be irrelevant in Nigeria because you must have been found guilty because of your race?
          You have just exposed your deep ignorance.

        • marc umeh

          I have read the numerous charges. She pleaded guilty. I also know many nigerians in US prisons. They are all guilty as charged. Some nigerians in south africa are there selling drugs and pimping women. And you are here defending them.

    • abusadiq

      Are you serious???

      • Haba mallam

        There is more to this story, pls don’t rush until you hear her side of the story, American and British justice system are stack against black people, a black man punches a white man its a murder charge by the police and in Nigeria she or he is already a murderer, that’s how they blackmail us and dominate us, if she is qualified, .such petty crimes in England shouldn’t be held against her I stand by my opinion.

        • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

          Grow up.

          The British legal system will only call you a thief if you are a thief.

          It doesn’t say white thief or black thief. If in doubt, ask Ibori.

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        He’s just simply brain dead and dumb.

    • Observer

      Haha mallam mumu.. wake up… so because we are sovereign state, we should allow criminals to run our state of affairs? Nawa I.. . This one go later say he go school.. yeye dey smell

    • GbemigaO

      Clap for yourself! Your brain is really on overdrive.

    • Abimbola Ajayi

      You really do need help.

  • Dr Pat Mumuwole Awosan

    Nonsense! How is nomination or even appointment of a man indicted of fraud worse than the indictment on Buhari who abandoned the poor health facilities in a country he claims to preside over to stay in a foreign country for 52 days? Not only that…he has even notified Nigerians on the day of arrival from the medical leave that he is going back to London for treatment again. If this is not stuupidity on Buhari’s part then it must be stuupidity on the part of Nigerians. I am yet to see a single Editorial in any Nigerian news paper (offline or online) that has captured the stuupidity of Buhari and his action thereof. Instead the headlines you get are diversionary STORIES as this present nomination of a Judge. Nonsense!

    • Julius

      I pray that you will be serious for just one day before you die. You are not making sense but, I realized you lack the capacity to do so. Fake moniker/ name makes no sense also. Smdh !

    • Damilare Ajani

      Irrelevant. Use your common sense.

    • George

      Shame on Yorooba boy.

      If this were to be against Saraki will you made such your comment.

      Now that Buhari has disgraced your Tinubu you Yoruba has turned up your tribe camenoon style but let me tell Buhari would be there till 2023 to enable him reduce Tinubu to nonentity he is and all you Yoruba. You people supported him against GEJ thinking that is the end , no, just the beginning of Tinubu disgrace. Silly tribe

  • Nkem

    If you ask them now they will tell you that it is the same thing that Gbajabiamila did in the USA, where he stole from his client, ran back to Nigeria and became ‘Honourable’ member, now he is the leader of the House. They will tell you that what is good for the rogues in the legislature is also good for the crooks in the judiciary.

    • Malik

      LOL…Kai, see as you take style yawa Gbaja.
      He good make person no get skeleton for cupboard o cuz na like this people go randomly dey mock you.

    • Bo Biz

      You delivered your main message about Gbaja very well eh.

  • Jerry Marok

    Rogues and crooks all over the place. How can a country use crooks and rogues to progress? Nigeria we hail thee.

  • Holy truth

    OK, now what exactly is d job description of d DSS if pple of questionable characters are daily been appointed into highly sensitive positions in Nigeria? I just don’t understand what exactly is d job of dis highly corrupt & compromised secret security services. D only reports dey can write were conflicting & untrue reports on Magu.
    If dis lady is cleared to become a judge at d supreme Court, she wil nowl become damaging instrument in d hands of d likes of saraki & his looting gangs. What a country is dis?

    • Otunba

      Another Offili Ajumogobia in the making! This is an investigative Journalism at its best. I hope the report ls not turned to another tribal debate. This is how it is done in the advanced Nations of the world; the reason they are millions of miles apart from us, Nigeria.

  • marc umeh

    No surprises here. There worst is our best.

  • Tunde

    Kai! Another thief about to be robed! What type of people are these; why are we stuck with these type of rogues dear God! Forgive us our sins as a people and help us rid our country of these evil people! Ah! Dear God help us!

  • Truthometer

    Nigerian judges are nothing but thieves and enablers. She rightly belong on the Nigerian bench. Her criminal talent shall be handsomely appreciated by Nigerian politicians. Let her be!

  • Konyesilifu

    This crazy idea of moving Senior Advocates to the bench should be dropped in the interest of Nigeria. The process of selecting Senior Advocates of Nigeria have been corrupted to a point that very few who made the grade in the last ten years can beat their chest and say they made it on good character and merit.

  • Angry Niaja

    Rita Ifeyinwa Kuku Garaba is a shameless thief and lacks integrity, she is a chronic debtor and lives a false lifestyle, take a walk to her chambers and interview the poor individuals she employs, the last time she paid them any salary is sometime last year, a lot of them are owed up to a years salary, but she lives large “big Oga”. How on earth did she get shortlisted!!!!! Does the DSs do any background checks at all, me thinks not, they have been bought over, Mrs Garuba is married to an ex top military brass, what a big shame.

    • Du Covenant

      Thanks be to God PT revealed this story before this woman was confirmed. In Nigeria background checks are ONLY done on those who will ruffle feathers. I hope Buhari performs a surgery on DSS very soon.

      • ayomi

        And you really think that this will disqualify her?

        • Julius

          Nope, she will be confirmed with praise !!!

          • ayomi

            I was being sarcastic

          • Julius

            I know but, I’m being serious !

    • discovalente

      DSS is busy chasing Govt critics offline/online. They don’t have time for any serious business. Internal security is in shambles (Fulani herdsmen|Boko Haram|Unknown gunmen etc) but DSS focus is on Magu & Internet critics. Useless people.

    • larro ejele

      Surely there must be something about the name Rita…

  • Galantman

    If these allegations are true, then the NBA failed to do due deligence in there selection or vested interests fueled by corruption have won.
    It’s sad because the NBA is still fighting to reclaim what little remained of its credibility, and now this mess. It seems they have not learnt a lesson

    • Du Covenant

      My broda, the concept of due diligence,vetting, conflict of interest don’t exist in our country Nigeria, this is why we are a laughing stock in the entire world. It is all about who you know sorry.

      • Galantman

        Correct bros

      • Julius

        Sorry bro, it has always been like that…it’s who u know !

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    Thank you Premium. Investigative journalism at its finest!

    As long as these people are dutifully exposed so shall the conscience of decent Nigerians be clear. What a shame that from our Senators, to the Legal profession to our Universities, corruption is not only epidemic but endemic Is it not sad that these days, to be seen as honest, ethical and with one integrity is a rarity?

  • GbemigaO

    This country self !

  • Bbest

    Thank you very much Premium times, God bless you. This is the kind of patriotic work that builds a country not the brown envelop journalism that we see every day.
    Now its left for our corrupt Judiciary to do its part.
    I wonder who allowed her to pass in the first place, we wait and see.

    • Olusola

      You are very sound upstairs! I join you to appreciate PT.

  • mspotts

    My sister in law knows this woman well. They attended same church for a time. Trust me, Rita’s scandals go far deeper than people even know. She has finished Chris-Garuba’s money. D guy is completely broke. She doesn’t pay her staff and she is a permanent debtor. She steals land from people and doesn’t pay back. Corruption is her middle name. Even d sellers in Wuse Market are looking for her. People who don’t know her story see her as a powerful woman of God. Thank God PT has exposed her publicly. I’m sure more details of her crimes will come out shortly.

    • Ade_O

      So sad.

    • Marcus Ijele

      Put your real name if you want us to believe you. All you said were there and you never spoke till now? You know her….detroyer. Those she took land from should have gone to court to reclaim their land.

      • mspotts

        Should I use my face and passport id for you too? Abeg. If you don’t want to believe I can’t force you. Just know that there are many others who have known of this woman’s deeds over the years but believed that she was too well protected to ever be exposed. As for me, I’m proud of PT for this exposé

  • Edward Osadebay

    This is how our judiciary got saturated with corrupt persons who subsequently nominate their equally very corrupt and unfit rogues to the bench to adjudicate on cases. Trust me this woman will be confirmed.

  • Ade_O

    Anyone knows the reason why it is the criminals and individuals of questionable character that get to great heights in our country? Please help with this.

  • Bambulu

    Thumbs up Premium times. More Power to your elbow. I hope we will have formal responses from the NBA and the President of the Court of Appeal pretty soon.

  • MammanJiyaVatsa

    The smartest students pass with First Class and get admissions to Medical and Engineering schools.
    The 2nd Class students get MBAs and LLBs to manage the First Class students.
    The 3rd Class students enter Politics and rule both the 1st and 2nd Class students.
    The Failures enter the Underworld of crime and control the politicians and the businesses. And, best of all, those who did not attend school become Prophets and everyone follows them….”

    Quote by – Bishop Mathew Kukah at Wole Soyinka’s 80th birthday celebration.