• As security experts flay government for complicity
By OKOSUN OKHUELEIGBE
EXACTLY 29 years ago, on October 19, 1986, one of the finest columnists with the appetizing and catchy column: “Parallax Snaps” was hurriedly snatched and despatched to live permanently with his ancestors. He was murdered in the most bizarre, uncharacteristic manner known to history in Nigeria.
He would have clocked 68 years old today if not he was brutally murdered at his Talabi Street, Ikeja residence through a parcel bomb said to have been “brought in a large brown envelope addressed to him and carrying what seemed to be the official government seal.” Sadly, the murder ignited a media firestorm while the military junta of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was accused of masterminding the murder.
Unfortunately, after many years, that singular murder among several others, remained unresolved. No one has been arrested or prosecuted. Almost three decades later, Dele Giwa’s bones are still resting at Ugbekpe Ekperi in Auchi. His killers have not been apprehended and tried for murder.
Since 1986, no government have had the courage to embark on extensive investigation to unravel the masked individual(s) who did that evil. Despite the effort of the late Gani Fawehenmi to prosecute two lieutenants of General Babangida – Lt Col Ajibola Kunle Togun and Col Haliru Akilu – both of Directorate of Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps, it was frustrated beyond redemption by the government and its agents.
With the 8th Assembly lawmakers at the House of Representatives recently calling on the President to re-open investigations into some past unresolved high-profile murders and extrajudicial killings, of particular interest now are the cold-blooded murder of Dele Giwa, Pa Alfred Rewane, a nationalist murdered in his Ikeja home on October 6, 1995; James Ajibola Idowu Ige, (SAN) murdered on the 23 December 2001; Anthony Olufunso Williams, stabbed and strangled in his home on July 27, 2006 in Lagos; Marshal Sokari Harry, a Nigerian politician assassinated on March 5, 2003 in Abuja; Aminasoari Kala Dikibo killed inside his car along Ogwashi-Uku/Kwale road in Delta state on February 6, 2004. Kudirat Abiola shot dead on June 6, 1996 in Lagos; Monday Ndor; Dr. Ayo Daramola, Chukwuma Ogbueli, Peter Eboigbe, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, killed in Benin City on August 11, 2005; Alhaji Sama Kano on April 8, 1996 in Lagos; David Izegwere on December 1995 in Lagos; Engr. Adesoji A. Dina on September 1998 in Lagos; Obatou Mumbo on October 17, 2000 in Onitsha; Nicholas Okhuakhua in June 2000 in Lagos, the law makers cannot afford to allow these monstrous killings to be swept away forever.
These murders in controversial circumstances remained unresolved political assassinations in the country hence Nigerians are clamouring that the present administration should do the needful and re-investigate them with a view to serving justice.
The expectation of Nigerians is to see an atmosphere where influential people who, wittingly commit murder or facilitate it, are brought to justice. Unfortunately, the security agencies, in most cases, have not helped matters. Particularly, the police have always ended up attributing reported cases of assassination to arm robbery attack even when they have not commenced or ended their investigations. The armed robbery attack narrative for every murder case in Nigeria is not palatable. Nigerians observe with sadness, the inconclusive state of the various cases of high level assassination in Nigeria hence some people are now shouting ‘conspiracy’ theory.
However, with a crack investigator as the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, there is indication that the murder of the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige (SAN) could be reopened. Given that the investigation into the case then wasn’t based on proper intelligence and was marred with political circumstances, it is expected that discreet investigations will be carried out when the bell for the re-opening of those cases rings.
To Rotimi Aromolaran, a security and safety analyst, said the issue of prosecution is problematic especially in a country where “godfatherism and untouchable syndrome” of some individuals, who assumed larger than life posture reign supreme. “This is political violence exacerbated by corruption which has weakened the criminal justice administration. This has caused the inability of concerned government apparatus to arrest the real perpetrators for trial.
The Bayelsa-based analyst added that “our human rights profile is below zero, we don’t value life in Nigeria. Dele Giwa was killed under Gen. Babangida, and he is very much alive and should be questioned on the death of the late journalist as fingers were pointed at him. Why has successive government ignored it? He asked rhetorically.
On Rewane’s assassination, he added that the “responsibility for the atrocity must be taken by the late Gen Sanni Abacha lieutenants since the general is not alive. Government must be held responsible, accountable and responsibility must be assigned efficiently.” He averred that the assassination of the former Justice Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration blighted the light out of his regime.
To Abubakar Tsav, the former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State added that unresolved murder will remain until we eschew “selective justice” from the way justice is procured. He blamed successive government why most of such cases are never resolved as government have continued to be partisan in who gets justice and who does not. “In Nigeria if government or any top official or rich person is involved in murder or other serious cases of human right abuses, the case will never see the light of the day. If, however, the culprit is an enemy of government, the case will be prosecuted with expeditiously.
“In a situation like this, the police receive dictation from the top and must protect their job by strict compliance to illegal orders. There is selected justice in Nigeria,” Tsav added.
For the Army Colonel Nojeem Shobo (rtd) blames lack of prosecution on insufficient evidence. “The most important thing is if there is no sufficient evidence available to you, there is very little you can do for prosecution. Justice will be served with sufficient evidence to prosecute people and if there is no one coming, that might be the end of the journey.”
When the Force Police Public Relations Officers, (FPPRO) ACP Olabisi Kolawole was confronted with whether they have commenced or will commence re-opening of investigations into these unresolved assassinations especially as the President Buhari gave a hint of the possibility of re-investigating the questionable circumstances under which some Nigerians were assassinated, she told National Daily :“I wouldn’t know that. If the police is given the directives by the Presidency, we would do our job. However, the Nigerian Police have always looked at and investigated murder cases reported in the country.”
Providing solutions on ensuring that justice is served and for the bereaved families to be freed of the emotional and psychological torture, Aramolaran called on President Muhammed Buhari to do all that he can to unravel their killers. To make that possible, he advocated a “total overhauling of our Criminal Justice Administration” as a matter of priority. Unless we solve previous high profile murder cases, the possibility of newest homicide cases might be difficult to unknot. Until these deaths are probed and resolved, their deaths would continue to remain an emotional poison for the families and denial of justice will never help our criminal justice laboratory.
The only unanswered question has been: Who Killed Dele Giwa and other Nigerians? Whether it is answered, the fact remains that the mill of justice grinds slow but steady.