The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) once enjoyed the tag as one of the finest crime fighting unit in the world but that seems ages ago now. At the height of the country's turbulent times, political assassinations went unpunished and several murder cases were left unresolved.
GoalDig looks further back at Dele Giwa, Bola Ige and some of Nigeria’s unsolved murder mysteries that left the NPF hiding in shame.
Abel Tador, the championship-winning captain of Bayelsa
United, was shot dead by supposed ‘armed robbers’ just hours after leading his
side to the 2008–09 Nigerian Premier League. The former NPA and Sharks star was
driving home after celebrating the team's success when he was stopped and shot
There was no convincing the police otherwise once the conclusion was hastily reached that Abel had been gunned down by armed bandits.
But there was more than meets the eye with Abel’s demise.
Few people gave Bayelsa United any chance of lifting the league trophy in a championship that had perennial giants like Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Rangers and Dolphins. But after weeks of setting the pace and staying top of the league, it became obvious that the Yenagoa boys were more than just also-rans.
Then the attacks began.
A few weeks before Tador’s murder, two Bayelsa United players were killed like guinea pigs. It threatened to derail their title march but the team rallied on and pushed over the finish line.
The police did not believe the sudden death of the players had anything to do with their team’s title charge. And neither were they ready to entertain the idea that Abel’s assailants could be more than mere robbers.
The murder of Abel Tador, a young midfielder at the cusp of a glorious career, would continue to haunt the conscience of the officer who refused to investigate the case just as much as it would trouble the one who pulled the trigger.
In December 2001, when Odunayo Olagbaju was clubbed to death in broad daylight in front of a police station, it seemed only a matter of time before the Men-in-Black produced the assassins.
Well, years after, it’s one on a long list of unsolved murder mysteries the Nigeria Police Force are battling real hard to unravel.
An Osun state legislator, Odunayo Olagbaju was caught in a quarrel between governor Bisi Akande of Osun State and his deputy, Iyiola Omisore.
It’s instructive that Olagbaju’s murder was followed a few days later by the killing of Bola Ige, the Justice Minister of Nigeria. While Olagbaju didn’t hide his support for Iyiola Omisore, Chief Bola Ige was a proud supporter of the Governor.
A power struggle was evidently in play and Nigerian soldiers had to be deployed in the state capital to prevent further reprisal attacks.
As usual the police made numerous arrests and made a sizeable killing from proceeds of bails granted. As for the killers, well, they lived to kill another day.
As political assassinations go, that of Engr. Funsho Williams has gone down as one of the goriest and most vicious.
On July 27 2006, the two-time governorship candidate of the PDP received dare-devil, blood-thirsty visitors in his Lagos home. About an hour later, his assailants were gone, leaving behind the “Captain’s” lifeless body. When his family finally got to him, Chief Williams had his hands tied behind his back and his body stabbed severally. His killers had strangled him before shooting him.
It was a brutally gruesome way to die. They wanted him dead and they made certain of it.
Quickly the police moved to arrest the officers assigned to protect the mild-mannered engineer-cum-politician. Williams campaign manager was also arrested along with a former Works Minister, Adeseye Ogunlewe. Ogunlewe had been in a tensed tussle with Funsho for the party’s gubernatorial ticket.
Sadly, though, the persons who brutally murdered Funsho Williams are still at large as all the suspects involved in the case were set free by a Lagos High Court.
Well, the Judge was not convinced because the police and prosecution team had successfully completed a shoddy job. One of countless on record.
Harry Marshal was not just your everyday Nigerian, he was a man with significant wealth and influence. You simply don’t just become the Rivers State chairman of the PDP by having good looks and a sweet tongue.
But after intra-party crises forced him to leave the ruling party, little did Great Harry knew that he had bitten more than he could chew.
He was gladly accepted by the opposition party, ANPP and was going to be the running mate of General Buhari (rtd.) against President Obasanjo’s re-election bid.
That may have been his undoing.
On the 5th of March 2003, unidentified gunmen paid him a costly visit, forcefully gained entry, tied up his security men and shot him severally.
Several high ranking government officials were accused of the murder including a state governor. The Presidency ordered immediate investigations.
A few routine arrests were made but nobody has been convicted since.
A former military governor of Cross River State, Vice
Admiral Babatunde Elegbede enjoyed a brilliant military career that climaxed in
his rise to the peak of his chosen profession: he became the number one Defence
Intelligence man in Nigeria
Nevertheless, Elegbede was out-thought and out-witted by men of the underworld on the 19th of June 1994.
These dare-devils stopped Elegbede’s SUV in broad daylight on a busy highway in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous state. They were armed with automatic rifles and fired at will. By the time they were done, Elegbede’s murderers had emptied about 70 rounds of bullets into his body.
It was the most horrible way to die.
Elegbede’s assassination was a brutal success.
The Police’s search for his killers, however, was a blatant failure. Nigeria’s glorious force-in-black put up a colourful show and attempted to hoodwink the general public by displaying a few miscreants as the suspects.
Nigerians would not be deceived, though.
Two decades after that dastardly act, however, nobody has been convicted of the murder.
History will forever have a lofty place of honour for the indomitable Bisoye Tejuoso not only because she was the mother of a royal king, Oba (Dr) Adedapo Tejuoso, Osile of Oke-Ona, Abeokuta in Ogun state but also because she was the Third Iyalode of Egbaland.
A top Nigerian business woman from Abeokuta, Her Royal Highness was one of the earliest Nigerian women to attain the summit of financial independence and success.
At age 80, she had seen it all- the best and worst of men. But what she didn’t see coming was her murder.
Controversy had boiled over who was to be the next Lord of Egbaland. At her age and status, Madam Tejuoso feared no foe, stood for the truth and said it as she saw it. Some who desired the throne and could not shift her to their side knew of only one way to silence her.
Sometimes in 1996, she was murdered in her bed. Three decades later, the Nigerian authorities are still searching for her killers.
One of the most horrible assassinations to have occurred on
this part of the world was the murder of Barnabas Igwe and his lovely wife,
So horrific and wicked was the attack that it left pregnant Amaka with machete cuts that almost severed her lower limbs from her waist in addition to back cuts that left her back folded. She was dealt heavier blows as she pleaded with the stone hearted devils to spare her for the sake of the unborn baby she was carrying.
Barnabas Igwe was stabbed, cut and shot and as if that was not enough, they ran his own car over him to ensure his death.
It was a most gruesome way to snuff life out of a fellow human. Barbaric, even.
The Igwe's had paid dearly for being brave enough to stand against corruption, human rights abuses and political brutality.
But as the Anambra state Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, it was Barnabas Igwe’s place to speak up against the ‘cabal’ set to suppress, choke and suffocate the people of the state but his foes took criticsms poorly and ended Barnabas life prematurely.
Instantly, the number one suspect was the then Governor of Anambra state, Chimaroke Mbadinuju, who had been on the end of a few of the Igwe’s criticisms. Subsequent police revelations, however, suggested that other wicked-minded individuals may have planned the killings just to discredit the Governor.
Whichever theory is true, the police are still sniffing through a bag of popcorn for the killers. It is only just over a decade since and counting.
Kudirat Abiola was not the only wife of Chief MKO Abiola and she was not even his first wife. But after the death of Abiola’s first wife, Simbi, she became the most senior wife.
When MKO entered the presidential race, Kudi became highly exposed, joining the campaign train of her husband. She filled the bill most admirably and she was beside MKO everywhere especially in the North where her mastery of the Hausa language was a great asset.
Events turned quickly, and Kudirat’s husband, a presidential hopeful became a prisoner. A loyal wife, she sprung to the forefront of the campaign for the release of her husband. She grew to become a thorn in the flesh of the men in power.
Kudi had to be taken out of the equation.
On June the 4th 1996, Kudirat Abiola was murdered on a Lagos street. She was shot at close quarters, Sustaining bullet wounds to the forehead. She was only 44 years old. Her driver also lost his life.
A close aide to Gen. Sani Abacha was acquitted of killing Kudirat after spending 14 years in prison.
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was sentenced to hang in 2012 for ordering the killing of Kudirat by a law court. Just over a year later, another court discharged and acquitted Hamza Al-Mustapha from the murder of Kudirat Abiola and set him free.
Sadly, no one will ever pay for the murder of the brilliant Kudirat Abiola.
One bloody murder that truly jolted Nigerians out of their comfort zone was that of then Newswatch co-founder and editor, Dele Giwa.
The brilliant journalist had constantly tried to use his news magazine to make life hostile and unpleasant for Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, the head of Nigeria’s military regime at the time.
Questioned severally by the State Security Service SSS in the days leading to his murder, Dele Giwa suspected high-level foul play.
Quickly he revealed the threat on his life to his lawyer, the irrepressible Gani Fawehinmi, and some of his colleagues. He even took security measures to ensure his family’s safety.
But Giwa’s foes understood just how smart he could be and cooked up an ingeniously-evil plan to kill him without leaving behind any trace of evidence.
They sent Dele Giwa a mail bomb.
It was a home delivery. An unsuspecting Giwa received the package and opened it. It exploded immediately, blasting him into smithereens.
It was the first time any human life in Nigeria would be taken in such devilish manner. It would spark a torrent of accusations and counter-accusations between the late journalist’s colleagues and security operatives.
However, 28years after and not one single soul has been found responsible for the tragic death of one of the country’s brightest stars of his generation.
Late 2001, a couple of days before Christmas, gunmen gained entry into the home of Nigeria’s serving Minister of Justice and Attorney General, shot him with a single bullet to his heart and left him to die in his pool of blood.
It was a simple aim-and-fire job. A less common man could not have died more unceremoniously.
Quite a few people could have been responsible for the killing of the erudite legal luminary and former governor of Oyo state. Yet the country’s team of competent security operatives could not identify his killers or those who sent them.
Barely a week before his assassins made their fatal call, Uncle Bola was physically assaulted right inside the palace of the Ooni of Ife.
Thugs, allegedly on the payroll of Senator Iyiola Omisore, were reported to have removed Ige’s cap and slapped him with it. Such actions are a taboo, an abomination unacceptable among Bola Ige’s people- the Yorubas. Many quickly pointed accusing fingers at Omisore as the prime suspect.
The police had quite a few leads to follow, nonetheless.
One particularly hot lead was that of some his close associates who had made public their displeasure about Chief Bola Ige’s decision to accept an offer to join the cabinet of the ruling party. Prior to taking up the post of the Minister of Justice of the most populous black nation on earth, Uncle Bola was a leading member of the opposition party and a one-time Presidential hopeful.
All that changed swiftly and some critics were even bold enough to brand him ‘a traitor’.
Several persons including Omisore were arrested and tried for their involvement in the murder. But the police were shabby at best with their investigations.
It was therefore no surprise when all the suspects were later acquitted by the courts.
Well over a decade after and Bola Ige’s killers are still walking the streets as free men.
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