Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to fulfill one of his electoral pledges by reopening case files of unresolved murders in Nigeria especially that of former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige.
Soyinka, who shared his thoughts in an article on Saturday, stated that though President Buhari ordered the Inspector-General of Police to reopen the case of Ige’s murder, nothing tangible had come out of it since the directive was given, indicating that there was no political will to pursue the matter.
The literary icon further questioned President Buhari’s sincerity to relaunch an investigation into Ige’s murder following the appointment of the prime suspect in the case, Iyiola Omisore, as National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
According to Soyinka, Omisore’s latest appointment and acceptance by Buhari is a major setback in the pursuance of justice in Ige’s murder.
He said, “Barely three months have passed since the 20th anniversary of the murder of the late Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, an occasion that I utilised to remind President Muhammadu Buhari of a subsisting election pledge. That pledge was to re-open the files on the spate of unsolved political assassinations that had plagued the nation in recent decades. Prominent among those cases was that of the Minister of Justice, murdered on his way to take up a prestigious position with the United Nations.
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“Presidential response was swift. Buhari ordered the Inspector-General of Police to re-open those files and resume investigations. The nation has patiently awaited even a hint of work in progress. Most, I am certain, expect no less than a revaluation of prior investigative efforts. None, to my knowledge, has attempted to rush the chief of police and his team into judgment. We all take solace in the knowledge that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they arrive. Eventually.
“However, an unusual turn of events has raised questions. The ruling party, headed by the same President, has just elected as its National Secretary one of the prime suspects of this most notorious of the nation’s unsolved murders. Not for a moment does one suggest that mere accusation, even trial, presumes guilt. More than mere verdict is involved in any trial, however. The process of arriving at that ultimate destination – justice — is integral to the very concept of democracy and equality under the law. That process is one of the structures of civic education.
“Unresolved till today were quite a number of untidy, even suspect aspects of investigation, prosecution and trials, aspects which revealed improper cell co-habitation by suspects under custody. That this led necessarily to recantations of earlier depositions is not thereby proven, but the fact remains that such U-turns did take place. One was so brazen that it induced a heart attack that proved fatal to the victim’s wife, another justice – Mrs. Atinuke Ige. That the prime suspect was privileged in a number of improper ways went beyond mere allegation. Political interventions, including pressure on the judiciary during bail hearings cannot be denied. A judge under such pressure kept a diary with accusations, pages of which he consigned to friends for safe keeping.
“With the emergence of the said prime suspect as National Secretary of the ruling party, is the Inspector-General of Police equipped to confront political obstacles in a resumption of investigation? Is there any guarantee that the result will see the light of day? How suspect, ab initio, will be the conclusions, given the present political ordering?
“I repeat: we are speaking of blatant, undeniable exercise of political interventions during investigations and the arraignment of suspects. Prior incumbency of the position of National Secretary of a ruling party has demonstrated the potent interventionist clout that can be wielded from that office. The President has personally received, and thus anointed the new incumbent. Since he remains central to any re-investigation – whatever form or direction it takes — just what value of objective assessment can be placed on the presidential pledge?
“To this layman, that investigative revisit is already hamstrung and disrobed of credibility. I think the nation should simply relieve President Buhari of his pledge. I am certain the Inspector-General of Police will be equally relieved and can now turn his mind and energy to the national accustomed posture – business as usual.”
Ige was murdered on December 23, 2001 in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He was 71 at the time of his assassination.
Though a lot of persons were arrested and tried for involvement in his killing including Omisore, none ever faced any sentence as they were all acquitted.
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