Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Saturday said the resumption of investigation into the murder of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, was already hamstrung and disrobed of credibility with the emergence of a prime suspect in the case as the National Secretary of the ruling All Progressive Congress.
The playwright expressed the view in a statement on Saturday titled, “Perhaps closed files should remain just that-closed?”
He said, “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.”
The elder statesman in December last year urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to ensure the exposure of Ige’s killers to reinstate what he termed “the broken lines of justice.”
Soyinka wondered then what happened to the President’s pledge to open an enquiry into the country’s spate of political murders.
Ige, also an ex-governor of old Oyo State, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen at his Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, home on December, 23, 2001.
The essayist stated that barely three months had passed since the twentieth anniversary of Ige’s murder; an occasion which he said he utilised to remind the President of a subsisting election pledge.
He 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.”
Soyinka, however, stated that an unusual turn of events had raised questions because the ruling party, headed by the same President, had just elected as its National Secretary one of the prime suspects of the most notorious of the nation’s unsolved murders.
He stated, “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 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.”