Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, on Tuesday insisted that the killers of the late Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, escaped justice because the state was complicit in his murder.
Keyamo stressed that Ige’s murder was not resolved because “it’s the case of the killer looking for the killer.”
Ige was killed by unknown men on December 23, 2001, in his Ibadan home. December 23, 2016, marks his 15th year death anniversary.
Keyamo spoke during a symposium held in Lagos by the Bola Ige Centre for Justice to commemorate Ige’s death anniversary.
The activist, who was a counsel in Ige’s murder case, gave chilling details of how the police frustrated investigations in getting justice for the murderers.
The activist, who spoke on the theme, “Political killings and our criminal justice system: the impediments,” noted that no other political killing in Nigeria exemplified the failure of the country’s criminal justice system than the murder of Bola Ige.
Keyamo said the case was further frustrated when the late former Governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina, completed his tenure in 2003.
He said, “The state was complicit in Bola Ige’s murder. Eight days before his death, he was assaulted at the palace of the Ooni of Ife. Immediately that happened, a red flag should have gone up. When a Minister of Justice was publicly assaulted, the government should have beefed up security around him.
“Aside from this, the police were more interested in destroying the evidence at their disposal. They were struggling to redirect the focus of the investigation. Bola Ige was not killed by armed robbers. When they brought me to Alagbon Close in preparation to charge me with arson, because I was representing a group that burnt the NNPC building down, I met Andrew Olofu the principal witness in the same cell with… the prime suspect.
“I told them the investigation had been destroyed because the prime suspect was in the same cell with the principal witness.
“Later, the same Olofu came to court to say that he could not recognise anybody ( the suspects) again. That was where the prosecution collapsed. The case of Bola Ige is the case of the killers looking for the killers; that is why it could not be resolved.
“We need answers from the police on the whereabouts of the police officers who went to eat when the late Ige was killed? We need to find out what happened to those orderlies. They should be dismissed for negligence.”
Keyamo suggested that the best way to transform the country’s criminal justice system was to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from the office of the Minister of Justice. He also said the appointments of heads of law enforcement agencies should be insulated from political control.
Also speaking at the event, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of “consistently engaging the government to rise up to its responsibilities of bringing the killers to book.”
To forestall political murders, Fagbemi called for a massive investment in human resources and equipment.
“It is high time that we massively deployed CCTV cameras in all our major streets and cities to assist in detecting criminals. I can imagine what would have happened had there been CCTV cameras on all the streets of Bodija on that night of 23rd December, 2001 when those cowardly killers came calling. Provision of up-to-date forensic and bio-data laboratory is now a sine qua non for modern policing. Our government must make this a priority,” he added.
In his speech, the senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Shehu Sani, hailed the contributions of the late Ige to the country’s democracy.
Sani said it was unfortunate that the killers were yet to be found.
The senator said since the President called for the reopening of Ige’s murder case, nothing tangible had been heard from the police. He, therefore, promised to raise the issue on the floor of the Senate.
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