By Okey Ndiribe, Abdulwahab Abdulah & James Ezema
Lagos—Mohammmed Fawehinmi, son of the late legal icon Chief Gani Fawehinmi, has vowed that the case against former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, over the death of the late founding Editor of Newswatch Magazine, Mr. Dele Giwa, would not be closed until he faces prosecution.
This comes as prominent Nigerians, including legal icon, Professor Itsey Sagay (SAN) and Professor Pat Utomi, joined the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, to call for the reopening of investigation on the murder of Giwa in October 19, 1986.
Fawehinmi made the remark in Lagos, yesterday, at a rally organised by the anti-Babangida Coalition, ABC, which was held as part of activities to mark the 24 anniversary of the death of the frontline journalist.
Leaders of the group also declared that Babangida was not qualified to aspire to the office of the President of Nigeria.
The group further declared in a leaflet widely circulated at the rally that: “To us, all other aspirants/candidates can aspire to lead us, but not the evil genius, IBB.”
In his own remarks at the rally, the Director of Mobilisation of the group, Mr. Wale Balogun, threatened that members of the coalition were prepared to engage in armed insurrection if Babangida emerged President in 2011.
‘If he becomes President…’
He said: “If Babangida should become President in Nigeria next year, we would relocate to the bush and fight him to the end.”
He further warned all political parties in the country against adopting or allowing Babangida to emerge as the Presidential candidate of any of them.
Also speaking at the rally, Mrs Aboaba, sister of the late Newswatch Magazine Editor, called him unprintable names on the occasion and urged Nigerians to reject him totally.
In his comments at the occasion, a Lagos-based activist and member of the coalition, Mr. Adeola Soetan, presented a book which he claimed contained evidence that Babangida’s regime murdered the late journalist.
Comrade Ibuchuwku Ezike, Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, said: “We were among the victims of Baban-gida’s dictatorship. He raided our office, detained some of us and so we do not want him the second time.”
He further recalled that Babangida had the opportunity of clearing his name over Giwa’s death at Oputa Panel that was set up by the civilian administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but that he refused to do so.
The peoples’ court
Ezike said: “Instead, he went to court and got and injunction that stopped the panel from investigating him. It was an opportunity for him to come and deny all the allegations against him by the Nigerian people.
“He never went there. Now, here is the court of the people. What we’re holding today is the court of the people. In 1993, it was not his will to leave the seat of power, but we organised and chased him out of power. That is what we’re going to do again to ensure that he does not come to rule Nigeria a second time.”
In her own speech at the event, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, the CD President, said: “The purpose of the rally was to remind the people that 24 years ago Dele Giwa was killed and above all, a new dimension was introduced in eliminating perceived political enemies.
“We have gathered here today to say enough of impunity.”
We cannot be asking for peace when there is no justice. We have to ensure that there is justice, fairness and equity. We have to ensure that all those who have evaded justice like IBB should be brought to book.
Meanwhile, the NUJ and other prominent Nigerians yesterday called for re-opening of investigation into the brutal murder of the former Newswatch editor, even as Lagos-based journalist, Mr. Richard Akinola, in conjunction with Lagos State chapter of the NUJ, presented a book, “Murder of Dele Giwa: The answered Question,” in honour of the late journalist.
The Chairman, NUJ Lagos Chapter, Mr Wahaab Oba, in his address at the ceremony, said “the time is now for the authorities to find out those behind the bomb that killed Dele Giwa 24 years ago. This will, indeed, remove the act of impunity gradually creeping into our society.”
Oba said, when Giwa was murdered 24 years ago, hardly did Nigerians, especially journalists, realized that such killing of journalists would continue, noting that several journalists had been killed in dastardly manner since that time, with no clue on the perpetrators.
In his own remark, Professor Sagay, SAN, said to ensure that the political machineries of the nation are put in the hands of the citizens, Nigerians must struggle in ensuring that the vote of every Nigerian count in the forthcoming elections.
Sagay said “ the big challenge before us all is for us to ensure that issue of impunity is curtailed in the country. We would have to task ourselves and see whether we would able to tackle election impunity. We would need to see whether election impunity will not raise its ugly head again in the 2011 elections. We cannot sustain it, it shouldn’t happen again.”
Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who was represented by his Information commissioner, Barrister Haruna Issa Dederi, said that the media should not be intimidated in creating an enviable country, while charging the media to expose whoever is against the progress of this country and protect those that are doing good to the society.
Professor Pat Utomi, who gave a short lecture, said, “Our country has witnessed progressive degeneration of values to the point of collapse of culture. In this collapse, he journey to the free rein of impunity has been among the more dislocating of our capacity to ensure the freedom of citizens that propel progress.”
He noted that checks and balances have been eroded, which affected the rule of law. “We saw some of it in the 1960’s in the battle for political hegemony in the use of local authority police against opponents.”
While noting that impunity breads uncertainty, he admitted that “impunity has cost Nigeria dearly in terms of investment decisions and economic growth.” He therefore called on the media to braze u for the challenge ahead to break the rank of those who want “ a free rein of impunity.”
At the ceremony, keys to houses were presented by the Lagos state government to the widows of Edo Ugbagwu of the Nation and Bayo Ohu of the Guardians murdered by unknown assassins in Lagos, while cash were presented to them by Mr Akinnola as part of his gesture to cushion the hardship of the widows.