Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday alleged that the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration protected those who murdered Nigeria’s former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Bola Ige.
The social critic, in a statement on Tuesday titled “Trivialise Corruption, Neutralise Justice” issued in his capacity as convener of Citizen Forum, said he brought up the murder of Ige into the discourse because “history strikes again” and highlight that Nigerians largely suffer from amnesia.
The statement comes against the background of the crisis rocking the judiciary following the controversial suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over his failure to declare his assets.
Soyinka, who said impunity reigns where there is no justice, explained that the present crisis in the judiciary shows that the nation and its leaders did not learn from the murder of the late Ige and “the manner investigations into his death were handled”.
Ige served first as Minister of Power and later as Minister of Justice under Obasanjo, who presided over Nigeria between 1999 and 2007.
He was murdered in December 2002 in his home in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital.
The playwright and Obasanjo’s government knew the killers of the late minister and politician and indeed allegedly protected and rewarded them.
“The government at the time of Ige’s killers know the truth. That government protected – I repeat – protected, and rewarded his killers. Those who wish to dispute this had better first immerse themselves in the circumstances of that murder, and the unconstitutional, indeed illegal trajectory of the principal accused, one that not only facilitated his unconstitutional participation in the ensuing election but catapulted him straight to the occupancy of the seat that had been kept warm for him during his trial and absence.
“On release, he was ushered straight into the slot of Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives. That was not all. The head of that government, General Olusegun Obasanjo, proceeded to burnish Ige’s memory with characteristic zeal.
“I have brought it up principally to remind the judiciary, and associate orders such as the Bar Association, that the war between impunity and Justice is an incessant one. Corruption is not a trait to be trivialised for political opportunism or locker-room guffaws. Corruption murdered the nation’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Justice was rendered helpless in the defence of its own Prime Advocate.
“The reign of impunity will prevail as long as the legal community continues to betray its calling, its oath of office, even its rites of professional collegiality and its responsibility to the rest of us. It is disappointing that even under a government that promised to dust up the files of political murders and end that reign of homicidal impunity, the Association has not thought fit to demand from the Buhari government its findings,” Soyinka added.