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List of High Profile Unresolved Murder Cases in Nigeria

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Murder

In time past, and even in present times, Nigeria has witnessed quite a number of murder cases which saw the fall of prominent people in the society.

It was expected that the perpetrators and master minders of these devilry acts would be brought to book. However, some of these cases have been prolonged and unresolved for years running into decades. Some of the high profile murder cases in Nigeria include:

DELE GIWA                                                                                                      Sumonu Oladele “Baines” Giwa was born on March 16 1947 to a poor family working in the palace of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife.

He attended local Authority Modern School in Lagere, Ile-lfe. When his father moved to Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife as a laundry man, he gained admission to that school. Dele Giwa travelled to the USA for his higher education, earning a BA in English from Brooklyn College in 1977 and enrolled for a Graduate program at Fordham University. He worked for The New York Times as a news assistant for four years after which he relocated to Nigeria to work with Daily Times.

Death                                                                                                                    Dele Giwa was killed by a mail bomb in his Lagos home on 19 October 1986. The assassination occurred two days after he had been interviewed by State Security Service (SSS) officials. In an off-the-record interview with airport journalists, Lt. Col. A.K. Togun, the Deputy Director of the SSS had claimed that on 9 October Dele Giwa and Alex Ibru had organised a media parley for media executives and the newly created SSS. Togun claimed that it was at this meeting that the SSS and the media executives reached a secret censorship agreement. Under this agreement, the media was to report any story with potential to embarrass the government to the SSS before they tried to publish same.

On October 20, the day after the bombing, the government convened a press conference presided over by Augustus Aikhomu. Before the press conference started, all press photographers, foreign journalists, and Nigerians that worked for foreign news media were ordered out. Those left behind were told that the briefing was “off the record” and Aikhomu would not be entertaining any questions.

Aikhomu then went on to ask Ismaila Gwarzo, the Director of the SSS and Haliru Akilu to render their accounts of what had transpired between Dele Giwa and their agencies in the recent past. Gwarzo confirmed that the SSS had invited Giwa for questioning over allegations of gun running. Akilu on his part confirmed that he had called Giwa’s home on 18 October to ask for directions to the house so he could stop over to see Giwa while on his way to Kano through Ikeja airport. Akilu also said that he had wanted to visit Giwa at home to “prove a Hausa adage that if you visit someone in his house, you show him you are really a friend.” Ekpu claimed that he remembered Gwarzo saying that the killing was “quite embarrassing” and also that Tony Momoh had described it as “a clear case of assassination”; later he was quoted saying, “a special probe would serve no useful purpose”. Graffiti of the time implied a belief that the SSS had been responsible.In a newspaper interview years later in retirement, Chris Omeben who at the time was the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB) at Alagbon, on his part recalled that he was the second officer to have handled the case file after he had taken it over from his predecessor at the FIIB, Victor Pam. Omeben explained that he had done what any competent investigator would have done in unraveling the circumstances surrounding the death of Dele Giwa. He went on to say that he had examined the crime scene and found it suspicious that the toilet adjacent to the blast site which Kayode Soyinka alleged he was occupying when the explosion occurred had also suffered damage from the blast but Soyinka was left unscathed. Omeben described the force of the explosion to have been strong enough to blow out the steel bars over the toilet window (burglary protection), which in his own assessment made Soyinka’s story less convincing. Omeben also claims he requested to interview Dan Agbese, Ray Ekpu and Kayode Soyinka. Of the three, only Agbese turned up, he was later to find out that Soyinka had fled the country. Omeben also recalled that in the course of his investigations he had cause to interrogate both Haliru Akilu and Tunde Togun. According to Omeben Akilu defended Giwa’s invitation to the DMI by saying Giwa was invited to clarify statements he made to a New York daily which had been assessed as having potential to paint the country in a bad light in the international press.The only known interview Giwa gave to any New York daily was one published in a New York Times story about rising religious nationalism and extremism in Nigeria. On the issue of rising Islamic nationalism, Giwa gave this singular quote in the story, It’s a dangerous, explosive trend,…in the worst case, I see a situation where die-hard Christians and die-hard Moslems are fighting in the streets. Omeben said he was satisfied with the reasons Akilu and Togun gave for inviting Giwa.However, Soyinka has come out to reply Omeben and accused him of spreading deliberate falsehood with his comments on him on his involvement with the parcel bomb incident. In an interview he granted The Nation newspaper of Lagos of Saturday, 19 January 2013, Soyinka strongly denied that he ran to the toilet when the bomb exploded. He said he did not know where Omeben got that false information from. When questioned, Soyinka requested to not be required to relive the experience again.Omeben also alleged that he was being pressured into naming Babangida and Akilu as suspects when he yet had no evidence linking them to the crime. Some of this pressure led to the formation of a special squad to investigate the case, the squad was headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Abubakar Tsav. Omeben alleges that the then Inspector General of Police Gambo Jimeta has asked him to leave the case with the Tsav team out of anger at how messy the whole situation was getting.

Soyinka is also alleged to have given conflicting accounts of the events to the Police and media outlets, he is also accused of fleeing the country while investigations were ongoing. To the accusation of fleeing the country, Soyinka said “How could I have fled the country? My wife and children were not in Nigeria with me when the bomb exploded, they had to take the next available flight to Nigeria to join me yet the Babangida men kept saying, even till today, that I fled the country. Can you imagine?”Giwa’s lawyer was also accused of prematurely accusing the government of Dele Giwa’s murder thereby truncating the investigation into the case, Newswatch magazine in an edition of 5 November 1986 disowned Fawehimni

The subsequent court cases instituted by Fawehinmi against the government to enable him try the case as a private prosecutor after the Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. Eniola Fadayomi had refused to prosecute based on the evidence available were mostly unsuccessful. 

Fawehinmi went on to the Supreme Court and got a favourable judgement which enabled him go back to the Lagos State High Court, this judgement also mandated the Justice Candido to recuse himself from the case and appoint another judge to hear the case. On 23 February 1988, Justice Longe ruled that the two security officers, Lt. Col Tunde Togun and Col. Haliru Akilu could not be tried for the murder of Dele Giwa. Kayode Soyinka was represented in court by Kayode Sofola SAN, representing the chambers of Kehinde Sofola SAN, that succeeded to getting the court to rule as frivolous the reference to Soyinka being “implicated”. The court also ordered that cost be paid Soyinka by the ‘accused’ persons. 

In 2001, General Ibrahim Babangida refused to testify before a national human rights commission about the Giwa murder. Babangida, Hakilu and Togun went to court and obtained an order restraining the commission from summoning them to appear before it. The Chairman of the commission commented that the commission had the power to issue arrest warrants for the trio but decided against this “in the over-all interest of national reconciliation”.

In 2008, the Government of Nigeria named a street in the New Federal Capital Abuja after Dele Giwa, as they did with other activists such as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Ken Saro Wiwa.

BOLA IGE                                                                                                                James Ajibola Idowu Adegoke Ige was born in Esa Oke, Osun State in the South Western part of Nigeria on 13 September 1930. His parents were Yoruba natives of Esa-Oke town, in the old Oyo State (now in Osun State). Ige left Kaduna and headed south to the Western region at the age of 14. He studied at Ibadan Grammar School (1943–48), and then at the University of Ibadan. From there, he went to the University College London where he graduated with a Law degree in 1959. He was called to the bar in London’s Inner Temple in 1961.

On 23 December 2001, Ige was shot dead at his home in the south-western city of Ibadan. He had been entangled in squabbles within his Alliance for Democracy party in Osun State. The previous week, the long-running feud between Osun state Governor Bisi Akande and his deputy, Iyiola Omisore, had apparently contributed to the death of an Osun State legislator, Odunayo Olagbaju.[1] The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo deployed troops in south-western Nigeria to try to prevent a violent reaction to the murder. Although various people were arrested and tried for involvement in the murder, including Iyiola Omisore, all were acquitted. As of November 2010 the killers had not been found. He was buried in Ibadan.In a speech at his funeral, he was quoted as saying that he was sure that Nigeria was worth living for but he was not so sure that it was worth dying for.

ODUNAYO OLAGBAJU                                                                       Odunayo Omobolanle Olagbaju was a Nigerian politician who was an Osun State legislator. He was stabbed to death in December 2001 right in front of a Police Station in Ile Ife, Nigeria.In May 2002, eleven suspects were arraigned for the killing. In August, seven additional suspects were arrested. By the end of 2002, the original eleven had been freed on bail, but the incident remained under investigation.

Odunayo Olagbaju was bludgeoned to death in broad day light in his Ile-ife home town, sparking riots in which at least five people were reported killed. The dead included a local Alliance for Democracy (AD) chairman. A spokesman for the Ife community, Prince Olakunle Aderemi, said that Olagbaju mentioned a commissioner in the Akande cabinet, a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the State House of Assembly as responsible for the attack before he died “at the doorstep of Nigeria Police, Moore, Ile-Ife”.

The killing may have been related to a quarrel between governor Bisi Akande of Osun State and deputy governor Iyiola Omisore. Odunayo Olagbaju was a staunch supporter of Iyiola Omisore. The murder was followed a few days later by the killing of Bisi Akande’s supporter, Bola Ige, the Justice Minister of Nigeria. After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Nigerian government deployed troops to prevent further violence.

One of the suspects in the Bola Ige murder said Iyiola Omisore had become close to Olagbaju, and under-wrote a part of his campaign expenses. Sometime in 2001, Iyiola Omisore told Odunayo Olagbaju that he was crossing over to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which would back him as candidate for the Osun State governorship. Odunayo Olagbaju and all of Omisore’s supporters also crossed over. In August 2003, Chief Joseph Obadare of the PDP said that Olagbaju alerted the police about threats to his life but the police refused to come to his rescue before his assassins struck.

EUNICE OLAWALEM                                                                                  Eunice (born, July 23, 1974) was a deaconess of the Divine Touch Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and a mother of seven. She was an indigene of Ekiti State and had been married to her husband, Elisha Olawale, from Ondo state since 2000. She was described by her husband as hardworking, God-fearing and supportive in sustaining the family. She was also described by others as a humble woman and a passionate preacher. The family lived in the Kubwa area of the capital city of AbujaNigeria. She was well known to have been preaching in that area for many years.

Eunice was murdered on the 9th of July, 2016 after she left the house at the usual time to preach. According to several media reports, Eunice was murdered between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Accounts differ as to the exact manner she was murdered. Several reports stated that she was beheaded and stabbed. Other sources stated that she was stabbed multiple times in the stomach and the leg before bleeding to death. People heard her screaming “Blood of Jesus!” at about the time she was murdered. At around 6: 30 to 7:30 am, her husband Olawale woke up from his bed. The first sign of his wife’s murder were alarming calls from his children about comments made by some nearby football players, specifying a woman killed while preaching and her lifeless body laying on the ground in a pool of blood. Immediately, he heard the information, Olawale dialed his wife’s phone to verify, but realized it had been switched off. Afterwards, Olawale got more information and directive to confirm his dead wife at the police station. He saw her lifeless body. Her megaphone, bible and mobile phone were still close to her body.

JOHN OTUNBA PAYNE                                                                              John Augustus Otunba Payne (1839–1906) was a Nigerian sheriff; administrator and diarist who was a prominent personality in Lagos during the nineteenth century.

Payne was born in 1839, his father was from a royal house in Ijebu Ode. He was one of the earliest products of CMS Grammar School, Lagos. He was a close friend of James Johnson and was a layman and warden at Christ Church Cathedral, Lagos. He also counseled the Awujale of Ijebuland to allow Christian missionaries. Through his influence, a Christian preacher was allowed to preach in Ago Iwoye.

Payne was murdered in his residence in Lagos by an unknown assailant in 1906. His murder was never solved.

ODUNAYO OMOBOLANLE OLAGBAJU                                          Odunayo Omobolanle Olagbaju was a Nigerian politician who was an Osun State legislator. He was stabbed to death in December 2001 right in front of a Police Station in Ile Ife, Nigeria. In May 2002, eleven suspects were arraigned for the killing. In August, seven additional suspects were arrested. By the end of 2002, the original eleven had been freed on bail, but the incident remained under investigation.

Odunayo Olagbaju was bludgeoned to death in broad day light in his Ile-ife home town, sparking riots in which at least five people were reported killed. The dead included a local Alliance for Democracy (AD) chairman. A spokesman for the Ife community, Prince Olakunle Aderemi, said that Olagbaju mentioned a commissioner in the Akande cabinet, a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the State House of Assembly as responsible for the attack before he died “at the doorstep of Nigeria Police, Moore, Ile-Ife”.
The killing may have been related to a quarrel between governor Bisi Akande of Osun State and deputy governor Iyiola Omisore. Odunayo Olagbaju was a staunch supporter of Iyiola Omisore. The murder was followed a few days later by the killing of Bisi Akande’s supporter, Bola Ige, the Justice Minister of Nigeria. After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Nigerian government deployed troops to prevent further violence.One of the suspects in the Bola Ige murder said Iyiola Omisore had become close to Olagbaju, and under-wrote a part of his campaign expenses. Sometime in 2001, Iyiola Omisore told Odunayo Olagbaju that he was crossing over to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which would back him as candidate for the Osun State governorship. Odunayo Olagbaju and all of Omisore’s supporters also crossed over. In August 2003, Chief Joseph Obadare of the PDP said that Olagbaju alerted the police about threats to his life but the police refused to come to his rescue before his assassins struck.
The two convicted in connection to the killing were giving a prerogative pardon by the governor of Osun state Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, during his one-year anniversary in office.

Sources: Wikipedia, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS INVESTIGATION COMMISSION. “Synoptic Overview of HRVIC Report: Conclusions and Recommendations” (PDF),  “Eunice Olawale, her killers and Nigeria’s unresolved murders – TheCable”TheCable. 2016-08-02. Retrieved 2018-11-12

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