Twenty-Two years after rumoured death, Muili Adejare-Ojo Is Alive, Hale, Hearty; Says “I Have Forgiven Those Who Wished Me Dead, Blind”

Posted on April 7, 2022
Mr. Muili Adejare-Ojo relaxing with his grandchildren

EXCLUSIVE BY IKPO IGBINOBA 

Nigeria’s doyen of boxing referees/judges, Mr. Muili Adejare-Ojo who was rumoured dead over two decades ago says he has forgiven those behind the rumour.

Mr. Muili-Ojo, enjoying his well-deserved retirement in Ibadan, was his usual witty, vivacious personality during a recent telephone interview.

Though he has not recovered from the trauma he suffered as a result of his rumoured death, Ojo said he had forgiven those who peddled the rumour.

Sounding as sharp as ever, the septuagenarian said in his trademark high-pitched voice.  

“The story of my rumoured death still hurts me till today even though it happened over twenty years ago”.

“Yes, it hurts. It’s one incident I wished never happened. But I have forgiven those who peddled the rumour”.

As if it happened yesterday, Mr. Muili Ojo reenacted the rumour which remains one of the biggest sports scandals ever.

“Prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, AIBA, (now International Boxing Association)sent me an invitation as one of those that would officiate in the Games”

“The invitation was sent to the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Association(NABA) (now Nigeria Boxing Federation)secretariat in Lagos”

“Instead of sending the invitation to me in my Ibadan base, some members of the federation decided to pull a fast one”

“They reached out to AIBA, informing the world body that I was deceased. They now proceeded to ask AIBA to have another person replace me”.

“In their reply, AIBA conveyed their condolence over my purported death. 

But they declined the request of replacing me with another person”. 

“AIBA explained that it was the Referees/Judges Commission  that nominated me and it was not the duty of a national federation to nominate anyone”.

Luck however ran out of the crooks who told the lie when Nigerian boxing contingent arrived Sydney for the Games.

Mr. Muili Ojo continued “In Sydney during the pre-match meeting some members of the boxing community were commiserating with the Nigerian delegation over my purported death. Fortunately for me, Dr. Amos Adamu, who was a director then in the Sports Ministry was  within earshot”. 

“He interrupted the meeting and told them that I was alive and that he saw me a couple of days before he left Nigeria for Sydney”.

“A Vanguard reporter who was with Dr. Adamu while the drama was unfolding captured the story and sent it to his organisation in Nigeria”.

When the story hit Ibadan next day, courtesy Radio Nigeria during the newspaper review segment, the city was in turmoil.

After establishing the source of the rumour, Muili Ojo petitioned the Sports Ministry.

The Ministry conducted an inquiry but pleaded with Mr.Muili Ojo to drop the case.

He heeded the appeal of the Ministry but his detractors were not through with him.

In 2001, the celebrated referee/judge was at the receiving end of another lie.

This time in Togo during a meeting to decide who will replace the head of the Referee/Judges Commission of AIBA, Dr. Usman of Egypt who just passed.

According to the Ojo “I don’t know how my name came into the picture but the Congress agreed that I should be appointed to replace the Egyptian”.

“At that point a top member of the NABA board informed the gathering that I had already gone blind”.

“The position was given to someone else.” 

Mr. Muili Adejare-Ojo, who has the distinction of being the only African to have attended six editions of the Olympic Games as a referee/judge said the incidents shocked him beyond words and affected his trust in people.

“I have forgiven those behind the rumours but then I will never forget. I am still shocked beyond words that those I considered brothers in the boxing federation could spread such tales about me”, Muili Ojo lamented.

Interestingly, one of those behind the rumours is a member of the NBF and also on the board of the IBA.

Though these events happened almost twenty two years ago, Nigerians are at a loss as to why the character behind the rumour is still looming large in the boxing community at local and world levels.

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