“Immediately he saw me, he screamed in agony o ti pa mi– meaning they have killed me. I was distraught, I couldn’t stand the horror before; his entire mid-section blown away. His voice was the pained dying embers of a flame that once burnt fiery. As I dashed out of the hospital, I met Prince Tony Momoh; the Minister for Information; he was expectedly livid.”
He said “Gani, we will get to the bottom of this, Dele’s killers will be fished out” Tony Momoh swore.
“Barely 4 days after, Tony Momoh said this case is as good as dead” Gani brandished a browned worn-out daily, waving it frantically afterwards he paused allowing the moment sink into the consciences of a million viewers on live national TV and the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa human rights petition tribunal stands.
“Tony Momoh a liar” Gani sounded the death knell on this rather extempore diatribe sending everyone in the stands in an uproar. Tony Momoh was delirious, less than an hour earlier; he had exchanged pleasantries with the late legal luminary, in the hallway. Tony Momoh had no idea that the sword of Damocles hung over his red cap. Like a Trojan, Tony Momoh, the barrister, uninvited took to the stands to clear his ancestral name for posterity, Nevertheless Tony Momoh did not kill Dele Giwa and he failed to understand that loony Gani was ready to bat a century at anything which represented the mendacious, scheming despot, General Ibrahim Babaginda’s administration. And well Gani scored that day; years of malevolent filibustering from Babaginda to Abubakar and then OBJ had taken its toll, and he was ready to dance naked in the market square, with or without Babaginda, such was the fierceness and drudgery of Gani’s social crusading
Today Gani’s point rings as clear as the falcon’s cry; there remains no social justice in the land. 23 years on, Prince Tony Momoh’s rather terse and insipid summation of Dele’s bombing is never truer. As good as dead is social justice in Nigeria today than October 19th 1986. If the truth be voiced, Nigeria’s equivalent to JFK’s assassination happened and I am neither aware of convictions nor arrests, rather only meaningless white papers bloodied by mendacious military rule blots the horizon.
Let’s put all this context, then fellow citizens; is Nigeria safer for journalists than it was on October 19th, 1986? Nada Amigos, morning, noon and night; in and out of season, journalists are bullied, harassed, hounded and narrowed in and sometimes fed-off to vultures in broad daylight-Bayo ohu A la carte without a whimper.
2 years ago, yours sincerely asked the President of the Senate, David Mark, when the hexed freedom of information bill will be passed. The diminutive ex-general had smiled and chided me. He equated me with the proverbial tortoise who having been held in chains for several years on the night of his release suddenly demanded for his freedom. Well I’ve got news for you Mr. President of the senate, 1000 days have gone by and the Tortoise still doesn’t know the meaning of daylight; Mr. Mark, the FOI bill is as good as dead.
It is 23 years on, following Dele Giwa’s bombing and his killers are free as air. Gani is gone and probably teamed up with Dele Giwa above in the eternal fight against injustice and corruption, but all I know dear Nigerians is, it is indeed a sad Monday morning in hell.