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As Election Year Approaches: Assassination as political weapon

By Jide  Ajani , Deputy Editor

In the wake of the attempt on the life     of Senator Gbemi Saraki, we look at an emerging heated political environment ahead of next year’s election. Gbenga Olawepo, the former Deputy Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is lucky to still be alive.  Just after the 2007 governorship elections in Kwara State, Olawepo went to the tribunal seeking to upturn the result of the governorship elections.  He lost.

But even then, Olawepo got a coded message suggesting that something sinister was in the air.  According to him, “I got the message that I would be poisoned.  The package came in the exact manner in which I was told.” After taking a globular look at the politics going on in his state, the forces stacked against him, he did the next best sensible thing.  He called his driver and another trusted friend and headed for Lagos.

And from there, he flew out of the country.  Today, Olawepo is back in the country and he is lucky to live to tell his story (See list of killings). Many politicians in Nigeria who have been visited by assassins have not been that lucky. And just last Sunday Gbemi Saraki joined the list of politicians who would live to tell the story.

She said, “I thank God that I survived the attack but it is shocking that some people will come after someone’s life because of power. I had received a threat message about a week earlier but I never thought it was going to be that sudden.

“People should realise that power belongs to God and I also firmly believe that my life is in God’s hands. We advise the security agencies to be more vigilant as the 2011 election year comes closer.” Meanwhile, Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the police have already commenced investigations into the issue.

“We would do our work, which we have already started. Right now, we cannot say it was assassination attempt. In fact, that would be wrong to say. However, we are working on all theories but we are also looking at the probability that it could be house breaking or burglary. At the end of the investigations, we should be able to know the intent of what happened. For now, no arrest has been made”, Ojukwu said.

The gunmen were said to have laid in wait outside the fence of her  Maitama District residence in Abuja, for several hours.  When they gained entrance, they reportedly ransacked the building.  At the same time, they held the domestic aides of the senator hostage and demanded to know the whereabouts of the senator. Saraki is the younger sister to Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State.  She was said to have travelled out of the country penultimate Friday without letting anyone know of her whereabouts.

Unfortunately, those who have been killed, more than 80% of the political killing in Nigeria are yet to be resolved. In an interview with Sunday Vanguard last month, Bisi Akande, national chairman of the Action Congress, AC, and friend to former Justice Minister and Afenifere leader, Chief Bola Ige, said the Ige murder case was inconclusive as the Oyo State government decided not to continue with the prosecution of the alleged killers.

According to him, “Obasanjo’s government killed Bola Ige.  And may be, to answer your question correctly, we may need to ask the government of Rashidi Ladoja.  That is the truth.  It was Ladoja’s government that went to court to plead nulli prosequi, that the government was no longer interested in continuing with the prosecution of the case”.

Such is the nature of investigation into murder cases in Nigeria.

List of politically motivated killings

By Akoma Chinweoke  &  Anthonia Onwuka

This list politically motivated killings is by no means exhaustive

ALFRED REWANE- Elder statesman and NADECO financier, Pa Alfred Rewane, was murdered at his Ikeja, Lagos home in 1994. The case has been on since with the trial of suspects who pleaded not guilty to the heinous crime. An avowed critic of military dictatorship, Rewane was also a big businessman.

KUDIRAT ABIOLA – Wife of winner of Nigeria presidential election held on June 12, 1993, Mrs. Kudirat Abiola was felled by assassin’s bullets close to the Lagos-Ibadan Express toll gate in 1994. Late General Sani Abacha’s boy, Hamzat Al-Mustapha and others are still being tried for the politically motivated murder.

BOLA IGE – Former Governor of Oyo State and later, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, was also murdered under mysterious circumstances.

That was on December 23, 2001. He was killed at his residence in Ibadan, Oyo State. His family has since given up on the case resigning themselves to fate.

OBI WALI– Ikwere, River State born politician of progressive inclination, Dr. Obi Wali, was brutally murdered in his Port Harcourt residence. Although the police questioned his wife back then in the early 90s, the case died just like that.

MARSHAL HARRY – Incidents of politically motivated killings continued in the South-South with the murder of All Nigeria Peoples Party chieftain, Chief Marshal Harry, on March 5, 2003. Like Ige and Rewane, he was killed at home. Nobody is serving any jail term for the crime.

AMINASOARI KALA DIKIBO – Chief Aminasoari Dikibo was killed on February 6, 2004. The killers of the PDP National Vice Chairman (South South) were never apprehended, though the police allegedly adopted a face-saving tactics of parading some armed robbers as the suspects.

OGBONNAYA UCHE– It was the turn of South East on February 8, 2003. That was sad day unknown gunmen killed Chief Ogbonnaya Uche, ANPP senatorial candidate for Orlu zone at his Owerri, Imo State home. His killers are yet to be brought to book.

ANDREW AGOM –A member of PDP Board of Trustees and former boss of Nigeria Airways, Chief Andrew Agom, was also killed on March 4, 2004. Agom was on the entourage of the former Benue State governor, Senator George Akume, when the ugly incident happened.  The armed men opened fire on the governor’s car.  Governor Akume is lucky to be alive.

IGWE BARNABAS – The Onitsha branch chairman of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Igwe Barnabas, was felled by suspected assassins’ bullets on September 10, 2002. He was killed alongside his wife, Mrs. Abigail Amaka Barnabas.

ODUNAYO OLAGBAJU – Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju was killed on December 21, 2001. Before he was brutally murdered  by suspected assassins, Olagbaju represented Ile-Ife constituency in the Osun State House of Assembly.

FUNSHO WILLIAMS – In July 2006, death crept into the Centre of Excellence. The victim was Lagos PDP governorship aspirant, Engineer Funsho Williams. He was killed at his Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos home. The police are yet to identify his killers, about four years after.

AYO DARAMOLA
– Former World Bank consultant and PDP governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, Dr. Ayo Daramola, was also murdered in 2006. The police are still investigating the murder.

BAGAUDA KALTO – Mr. Baganda Kalto of the News magazine was abducted from his room in Durbar Hotel and murdered during the Abacha dictatorship and so far, there are no clues yet as to who did it.

CHARLES NSIEGBE – Again, on November 21, 2009, another politician, this time a political associate of Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Charles Nsiegbe, was wasted in the street of Port Harcourt.

The Nigeria Police are still running from pillar to post to find a clue to the brutal murder that shocked the good people of Rivers State and the nation at large.

DIPO DINA – On Monday, January 25, 2010, suspected assassins shot and killed Otunba Dipo Dina. The late politician was the AC governorship candidate in 2007, popularly called DD-Direct, the accountant met his death around Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.