Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said that the recent emergence of Iyiola Ajani Omisore, one of the prime suspects in the murder of a former Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, as the national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has already “hamstrung and disrobed” the probe ordered by the President Muhammadu Buhari “of credibility.”
After Ige was killed in his home in Ibadan, Oyo State on December 23, 2001, Omisore, a former deputy governor of Osun State and 10 others, who were charged for the murder were later discharged and acquitted.
The playwright, last December, urged Buhari to work assiduously towards unraveling Ige’s killers so as to reinstate what he described as “the broken lines of justice.”
But in a statement entitled, “Perhaps closed files should remain just that–closed?” Soyinka expressed worries at the recent turnout of events.
He wrote: “Barely three months have passed since the twentieth anniversary of the murder of the late Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, an occasion that I utilized to remind President Mohammed 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.”
He continued: “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?
“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.”
Soyinka, who is perplexed regarding what has become Buhari’s pledge to launch an inquiry into the gamut of political assassinations, added: “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.
“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.”
The essayist continued: “Not for a moment does one suggest that mere accusation, even trial, presumes guilt. More than a 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 the 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 safekeeping.”