Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Thursday expressed enthusiasm to be involved in legal proceedings to unravel killers of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige.
Soyinka on Saturday in a statement said resumption of investigation into Ige’s murder 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 Progressives Congress.
A former deputy governor of Osun State, Chief Iyiola Omisore, emerged the party’s national secretary at the 2022 national convention of the APC held from March 26 to 27, where 77 national officers emerged.
In 2002, he was arraigned for Ige’s murder but later acquitted alongside 10 others tried for the case.
Omisore, who replied Soyinka’s position in a statement, also instructed his lawyer to write the elder statesman demanding a retraction of the comments.
Ige, also an ex-governor of old Oyo State, was assassinated by suspected gunmen at his Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, home on December, 23, 2001.
The playwright spoke at a media briefing in Lagos titled, “Forget the past, forfeit the future: A nation seceding from humanity.”
He decried the rising insecurity in the country leading to killings, kidnappings and violence in several states.
The elder statesman noted, “When I make a statement that someone implicated in a certain crime and that the degree of that implication is such that the person should not even aspire for a certain kind of office in this society, I am talking about justice. It has nothing to do with records in court.
“I want to assure this man who feels that his civic right has been trampled upon by the statement that even if he was guilty, it does not mean that he is not qualified to do anything for humanity.
“We are just saying that once you have been involved in certain forms of activity such that lead eventually to the extinction of a good man, you should not be seen in certain positions in society. “If Buhari and the APC leadership want to reward somebody like Omisore, please give him an embassy somewhere, maybe in Ukraine as an ambassador. But don’t make him the national secretary of a ruling party. That is where we are concerned. What happens to the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) is no business of mine. We are talking about governance, we are talking about those who are in charge of the health and the wellbeing and the instrument of justice of this society.
“We are saying somebody who was capable of attacking a minister of justice, taking off his cap in the palace of a spiritual head of a large group of people, that person is not fit to be seen as the national secretary of a ruling party. There is no bargain for that position.’’
The elder statesman said he read where Omisore’s supporters described him as a man of great erudition, adding that he had no doubt to talk about that because the politician knew what it meant in Yoruba culture to take the cap off the head of a man.
He stated, “When you decaped a man publicly and toss it to thugs to play around with, that means sooner or the other. Let me repeat this. That does not mean that you were responsible directly for the person’s death. But certain actions lead to the other and certain actions follow.
“ Even the English language helps us a bit along with it; when you decaped somebody, it might lead to decapitation. Wherever you look at the action of disgracing and humiliating a traditional chief and minister of justice who was a guest in a revered environment, that leads to something sooner or later. We have seen that the action alone and the consequence disqualify whoever initiates that action from aspiring to position.
“We are saying to the leadership of the APC and I am not talking about Buhari alone. It’s a collective guilt. What has happened to your sensibilities? Are you so short of material in your party that you have to unleash scorpion on our memory?’’
He said that he was not the one who provoked the situation but those who were so insensitive, so callous and insulted the people’s memory.
The playwright added, “Those who said they want to go to court because Wole Soyinka said this, I am waiting. I will be delighted and then we will really go into details. Perhaps, what we need is a judicial enquiry. The court has done its work. We accept the verdict of the court but there is a lot to unearth which are of enormous value for civic education and democracy. I ask APC leadership to have a rethink because this issue will not go away.’’
In his reaction, human rights lawyer, Chief Femi Falana, SAN, who said the killers of Ige must be found, noted that Soyinka had reminded the President, Major General, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of his pledge to open an enquiry into the country’s spate of political murders.
Falana noted, “If you are sued, we will defend you free of charge because you are taking on a public issue. We therefore want all of us to rise up and challenge the government to stop dancing on the graves of our people. “Until the killers of Chief Bola Ige are found, the search must continue. There is no apology about it. If you mention that you have been tried, discharged and acquitted but the state has a duty to look for the actual killers, you may help that from the information available to me, can you look at this area. It’s the duty of all of us. Prof Soyinka has helped to perform a civic duty.’’
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]