The co-founder of Newswatch Magazine, Ray Ekpu, has accused a retired police chief, Chris Omeben, of being the one who frustrated investigations into the murder of founding editor of the magazine, Dele Giwa.
Giwa was killed by a parcel bomb at his Ikeja, Lagos residence on October 19, 1986.
Omoben, then a former deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the investigation into Giwa’s murder, had on Monday said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria that the investigation was frustrated by the interference from the “high place.”
Omoben claimed that even when he had narrowed in on the principal suspect, who could have helped to unravel the mystery, the suspect was allowed to escape from Nigeria.
The octogenarian, who described Giwa’s case as the most frustrating in his career, regretted that he was not allowed to interrogate the then London correspondent of Newswatch Magazine, Kayode Soyinka, who he believed knew something about Giwa’s assassination.
But in an interview granted an online newspaper, The Cable, on Tuesday, the co-founder of Newswatch, Ekpu, accused Omeben of twisting the story, saying the event had not faded off people’s memories that they would have forgotten who the real killer of Giwa was.
Ekpu said he recalled that before the incident of his death, Giwa had on a number occasions received parcels sent to him by the then Military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, who usually asked him to edit or draft his speech.
“I remember at least two incidents when Dele called me to say, ‘I just got a letter from the President’ and what did he normally send? He sent parcels, that is if he was going to deliver a speech; he will send an advance copy so that Dele can put it in the magazine to meet our production time. On another occasion, he requested Dele to draft his speech for him and Dele called me and we drafted his speech for him.”
Ekpu alleged that it was Omoben himself who frustrated the investigation into Giwa’s assassination by stopping one of the officers directly in charge of the case, who later became a Commissioner of Police in Lagos State.
He said Soyinka had nothing to gain from killing Giwa, wondering if the latter would have stayed with the deceased, if there was going to be a bomb explosion.
“This man thinks that people’s memories have faded, so he can twist and turn as he likes, but I don’t think people’s memories are that short.
“Kayode Soyinka was in the country for more than two months, the police interviewed him and also interviewed us, so I don’t know at what point we shielded him.
“As our correspondent in London, Kayode only came for consultation a few days before this incident happened and stayed with Dele just the same way we stayed with him anytime we went to London. So, there was nothing, absolutely nothing unusual about that.
“Will a guy who wants to use a bomb and kill someone stay in the same room with him? Would he stay in the same room while the bomb explodes? Will he know the extent of the damage that the bomb will create? I’m not a security man but I doubt it, except you are a suicide bomber.
“Besides, Kayode’s ears were perforated and he couldn’t hear for months. The bomb had an effect on him. You know he was seated opposite Dele as he opened the parcel. They were together; now tell me how it is possible for a man who knows something about bomb to sit inches away from the man who was opening the parcel? Does that sound credible? Doesn’t that sound preposterous to you? Who knew anything about parcel bombs at that time? Who ever thought that a bomb could be sent through a letter in 1986 Nigeria?”