By Vincent Ukpong Kalu, Sun News Online
The assassination of Mr. Dipo Dina, the Action Congress (AC) Ogun State standard bearer in the 2007 governorship election, last Monday, has once again brought to the fore the bloodletting in the country’s politics. At the last count, there are about 53 cases, with many of them unresolved by security agencies.
Politically motivated killings started during the military era. For instance, on October 19, 1986, an eminent journalists and founding editor of Newswatch, Mr. Dele Giwa, was assassinated with a parcel bomb. Elder statesman and NADECO financier, Pa Alfred Rewane was murdered in his Ikeja GRA residence, in 2004. Also, Mrs. Kudirat, wife of Chief M.K.O.Abiola, the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, was killed in Lagos.
Under democracy, there has been an avalanche of politically motivated killings. The list is endless and the victims range from the mighty to the relatively unknown politicians.
On December 23, 2001, Chief Bola Ige, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, was brutally killed in his residence at Ibadan, Oyo State. Chief Harry Marshal, a chieftain of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) was, on March 5, 2003, murdered in his residence. He was a staunch member of Peoples Democratic Party and later defected to ANPP. The police claimed that they arrested the killers and paraded them before newsmen, but a weekly news magazine investigated and reported that the suspected criminals had been in police custody even before then. According to the magazine, the police brought out the suspects and promised them to own up to killing Marshal and get freedom.
On February 6, 2004, unknown gunmen killed PDP National Vice Chairman (South South), Chief Aminasoari Dikibo, in Delta State. The police said it was an armed robbery attack, while the family and most Nigerians think otherwise. On September 9, 1999, Sunday Ugwu, elder brother of Nwabueze Ugwu, a legislator representing Nkanu East in Enugu State, was killed in an alleged case of mistaken identity. Mr. Victor Nwankwo, Managing Director of Fourth Dimension Publishers and younger brother of Chief Arthur Nwankwo, was assassinated in Enugu in 2006.
On February 8, 2003, unknown gunmen killed Chief Ogbonnaya Uche, ANPP senatorial candidate for Orlu zone in his Owerri home. He was to contest the April 2003 general election against Senator Arthur Nzeribe.
Theodore Agwatu, Principal Secretary of Imo State governor, was also murdered in Owerri, the same way Issa Zaria, a Kwara State ANPP chieftain, was killed. Also felled by assassins’ bullets was Yemi Oni, Ekiti State Alliance for Democracy (AD) chieftain while returning from a campaign rally.
On March 4, 2004, Chief Andrew Agom, PDP trustee and ex-Nigeria Airways boss, was killed in the convoy of the then governor of Benue State, George Akume. Almost at the same time, the caretaker Chairman of Bassa Local Government, Luke Shigaba, was killed by unknown gunmen. He was said to have handed over as a caretaker chairman of the LGA two weeks earlier before picking the PDP ticket for the March 27 2004 council election.
In the same of month of March 2004, a lecturer with Alvan Ikoku College of Education, unidentified assassin in his office gruesomely murdered Chief Uche Ogbe in his office in cold blood. On September 6, 2003, a lawyer, Dipo Garba and his wife, Bosede were assassinated at their resident on Fulani Road, Kurmin Marshi, a suburb of Kaduna. Unknown gunmen in the presence of three of the children including a 10-month-old baby girl shot them.
Dr. Tony Iloegbunam, Head of Department, Geology and Mining, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) was shot dead by unknown two gunmen in his office about 11.30 am on November 12, 2003.
On December 23,2004, candidate for the vacant stool of Unuvworo of Ekpan in Delta State, Godwin Merarosue Itegu was killed by suspected assassins who invaded his residence. Two friends who were with him were also shot. A retired Central Bank of Nigeria staffer, Alhaji Sule Abubakari Okponbi was killed in his hometown at Agenegbode, Etsako East LG, Edo State. He was abducted by a nine-man gang and assassinated on November 22, 2005.
On May 15, 2005, AD chieftain and leading financier of Oranmiyan Group in Osun State, Alabi Olkoju, was murdered in Gbongan area of the state by suspected assassins. On July 17, Alhaji, Lateef Olaniyan (alias Lati Osogbo), a close associate of Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu was murdered at Elewure Bus stop, Sango, Ibadan.
On September, 28, 2004, the Executive Director (Services) of Nigeria Gas Company, Alhaji Ahmed Abdullah, was killed along NNPC Housing Complex road, Ekpan in Uvwie LG, Delta, Delta State by assassins. On October 12,2004, a popular pilot and air safety activist, Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, was brutally killed in Lagos as he was cruising in his BMW car with a girl he had picked up on Victoria Island.
On January 4, 2005, a prominent medical doctor in Oyo State, Dr. Phillip Oguuniran, member of the state Hospital Management Board, was killed by yet to be identified assassins. On August 13, 2002, Mrs. Janet Olapede, a leader of PDP in Oniparaga, Ondo State, was clubbed to death by assassins.
That was not to be the end of the killing, as on August 15, 2002 Alhaji Ahmed Pategi, also a PDP Chairman in Kwara State, was assassinated at a place near Aiyetoro in Kogi State. Iyalekhue, former Edo State Commissioner of Police, was assassinated on July 31,2001.
On September 10, 2002, assassins also hacked Chief Igwe Barnabas, an Onitsha branch chairman of Nigerian Bar Association and his wife, Abigail Amaka down. The lawyer was said to be so critical of Anambra State government under Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.
Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju, who represented Ile-Ife constituency in Osun House of Assembly, was murdered on December 21, 2001, two days after Bola Ige was killed. Another Ibadan businesswoman, Mrs. Suliat Adedeji, was murdered at the same time.
PDP chieftain and chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC), Warri-South West Council, Sunny Deghele, was shot dead on December 12, 2005. In March, 2004, Kogi State Electoral Commissioner, Chief Phillip Oloronipa, was killed at his residence in Kabba, Kogi State. On July 16, 2005, the PDP Assistant National Director, Research and Planning, Anthony Ozioko, was killed at his residence in Sabon-Gwagwa, Abuja by unknown gunmen.
On June 30, 2006 gubernatorial aspirant of Advanced Congress of Democrats in Plateau State, Jesse Arukwu, was abducted and on the second day, his lifeless body was found around his house in Bassa LG, Plateau.
Unknown gunmen on July 2006, assassinated Engr. Funsho Williams, PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Lagos State for 2007 general election in his home, in Ikoyi, Lagos. Incidentally, on the day Funsho Williams was buried, another gubernatorial hopeful of PDP, in Ekiti State, Dr. Ayo Daramola, was killed at his home in Ekiti.
On February 17, 2006, PDP chieftain, Robert Ogbonlu, was killed by gunmen in Obiaruku, Delta State. Also, Hassan Olejoku, an associate of former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Tinubu, was also sent to untimely grave by assassins.
Two gunmen assassinated Assistant Bishop of the Anglican Church in Bida, Niger State, Ven. Elijah Yisa on January 26, 2006 in his residence. Also, a lecturer with the Department of Social Studies, College of Education, Katsina-Ala, Julius Uga, was killed by assassins on July 10, 2006. Chief Godwin Ugokwe (Alias Boiling), an Aba-based international businessman, was murdered on August 20, 2006.
On January 14, 2006, suspected assassins invaded the home of former Kano State governor, Abubkar Rimi and killed his wife. On December 25, 2005, Delta State businessman, Mr. Jackson Edema, alias Sunny Deghele, was assassinated in front of his residence. October1 2005 saw the murder of Chief Peter Ofudje, a traditional chief in Effurum, headquarters of Uvwie LG of Delta State.
Last year, Bayo Ohu, The Guardian Newspaper Assistant News Editor, was murdered in his home at 9, Oyebiji Street, off Odukoya Estate, Akowonjo, Lagos, by gunmen. His murder is reminiscent of the death of Godwin Agbroko, Chairman, Thisday Editorial Board, on the eve of Christmas in 2006 at Iyana Isolo, Lagos. Agbroko was returning from work when he was murdered in his car a stone throw to a police station by yet to be identified gunmen. His assailants did not take anything from his car.
He died before rescue could come to him. Abayomi Ogundeji, another journalist, also of ThisDay, was killed in cold blood on August 17, 2008. His death was surrounded by controversy, as fingers pointed at the Nigerian Police. Even as the matter is in court, a principal witness was assassinated at her home.
In 1983, Agwu Okpanku, a journalist with Daily Nation, published by the late Chief K. O. Mbadiwe, was killed and his corpse dumped beside the railway track in Umuahia to create the impression that a moving train hit him.
Bagauda Kalto of TheNews magazine was taken from his hotel room at Durbar Hotel, Kaduna and killed during the oppressive regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
Chinedu Ofoaro of The Guardian was also killed between Owerri and Onitsha during the military government of General Abacha. Gunmen flagged down the commercial vehicle he was travelling in and singled him out. His corpse was not seen. His family petitioned the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa panel and blamed his disappearance on government.
Charles Nsiegbe, Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s associates, was assassinated on November 21, 2009.
In all these killings, the various Inspectors General of Police have promised to leave no stone unturned in arresting the culprits. However, at the end of the day the murder cases are not resolved. It is also important to note that the police have always said, each time somebody is killed, that it is a case of armed robber. Nigerians have always condemned such hasty declarations. Indeed, wife of the late Mr. Bayo Ohu, The Guardian assistant news editor, underlined this when she expressed disappointment that the police declared the killing of her husband a robbery case, when the assailants did not take anything from their home, except their victim’s phones and laptop.