Dele Giwa’s assassination: This is my story

Dele Giwa

Dele Giwa

CHRIS Omeben, who was a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, when the letter bomb blast occurred on October 19, 1986, claimed to be an investigator of the bomb blast.

Instead of protecting me, the survivor, who escaped death by a whisker, and by the very special grace of God, he is sadly and disgracefully trying to rewrite the script to make me, as he said, his “principal suspect”.

His “principal suspect” should be Halilu Akilu, who called Dele’s house about three times consecutively Saturday before the Sunday bombing and spoke to Funmilayo, Dele’s wife, to ask for description of and direction to Dele’s house in Ikeja.

On the Sunday of the bomb blast Dele had spoken to Akilu from his upstairs bedroom before coming down to have breakfast with me to tell him that he heard he had called him on Saturday and asked why. The letter bomb was delivered to the house within 45 minutes after that early morning telephone discussion between Dele and Akilu. So who should be Omeben’s “principal suspect” then? Should it be me who was bombed with Dele? Or Akilu?
Omeben, said, and I quote: “Soyinka knew what was coming and he left the room to hide behind the wall.” What a blatant lie?

In this interview he granted the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to coincide with this year’s anniversary of the bomb blast, it is “behind the wall” that Omeben said I hid myself. In his interview with The Sun Newspaper in 2012 he said I ran to the toilet before the bomb exploded. You can see the inconsistency in his wild allegations.

I am very disappointed and shocked that the Nigerian media, who knew and should still know the facts of what happened on that day gave Omeben powerful platform in mainstream media outlets in Nigerian to voice out this falsehood – and without calling me (a member of the Nigerian media family) to at least hear my own story. I am so disappointed that the media allowed itself to be used by Omeben to peddle such falsehood. As a veteran journalist myself, I am ashamed of those newspapers that published the story without doing the professional thing of calling me to cross check the veracity of Omeben’s claims and allegations.

So let me let Omeben know again – if he does not know already, and so that he does not keep repeating these erroneous allegations when the anniversary comes up again next year, that Dele and I were the only two people in the study when Dele’s son Billy delivered the letter bomb to his father.

It is very important here to remember that some unidentified people, who gave it to the security man at the gate, delivered the parcel bomb to Dele’s house. The security man, while coming inside the compound with the parcel saw Billy (Dele’s son) on the way and gave it to him. When Billy came to the study and delivered the parcel to his father, Dele looked at it and handed it over to me. I looked at it and was able to vividly see the inscription on the padded envelop and handed it back to him. He received it back from me, moved his recycling chair back slightly to face the window on his left, he held the envelope with both hands, and tried to tear it through the top left-hand corner. He had not really opened it up, if he did it was only very slightly. And boom!! The bomb exploded! A big ball of fire occurred. It was a very powerful bomb explosion! The side of the envelope facing the iron-barred window blew up that window. The side facing Dele exploded on his chest and stomach. And the force that came out from the bottom of the envelope blew up his upper legs and badly affected lower part of his body. He did not die immediately. He died in the hospital.

Now, you see the vivid description I have just given you – 29 years after the gory incident. If I ran into the toilet or hid myself behind the wall before the bomb exploded like our Mr Omeben will like the world, and particularly Nigerians, to believe, and as he is trying hard, very hard, to label me as the suspect, how would I have been able to know all this, and give this graphic description. That partly was what the Oputa Panel missed when it investigated this matter and did not see it necessary to invite me to give evidence.

So, Mr Omeben should get it now that I did not – and I repeat I did not – run away to toilet or hid behind a wall. I sat on my own chair right in front of Dele. Only the strong mahogany L-shaped desk on which we were eating our breakfast divided us. So I was literarily inches away from him. The huge desk must have mopped the force of the blast that would have done the damage . But the force was so powerful to still lift me off my chair. The chair itself collapsed. I was thrown on the floor by the exit door. I was momentarily unconscious. But regained consciousness, flung my spectacles off my face, and staggered out of the room. Yes, I received no cut on my body, but my nightgown was spattered with blood – Dele’s blood – and I had burns on my forehead. And I smelt of burns.

I thank God for sparing my life. I could have been killed on that day. My survival was a Biblical Miracle. I told you that I held the letter bomb myself! What if I was the one that opened it? And I could easily have opened it myself. But I gave it back to Dele. That’s why I believe my survival was the work of God. My own time was not up yet.

What other allegation did Omeben level against me? He said, “Up till today Soyinka never appeared before the police.” Again, how can he be that ignorant? This is a blatant lie. And as a senior police officer, especially one who claims to be investigating this important incident, he should have known that I gave statements not once but twice to the same Nigerian Police he represents before I eventually left Nigeria. The first one was at the hospital where I was admitted – Dele’s body was next door to me. That interrogation by a senior police officer whose name I cannot recall took place on the spot when the incident was still fresh. It was inside the hospital. Dele Olojede was beside me – he is alive, go and ask him. Dele Olojede will recall that as questions were asked I could not hear anything. Both my ears were solidly blocked. That was a serious effect of the blast. Then it was confirmed there at the hospital by the ear specialists that my ears were perforated. And this was also confirmed when I got back to the UK after the incident. For about five years after the bomb blast I had to endure continuous noise, humming, nonstop in my both ears. It was very irritating, but there was nothing I could do about it until it improved over the years and stopped. And even up till today, 29 years after, I still carry the effect of the bomb blast in my ears because I can hear better on the right ear while my left ear, which was nearer to the blast is still weak. But who am I to complain about not hearing well, when it could have been worse and I could have lost everything completely, including my life.

The second statement I made when the Police requested to see me again was at the premises of Newswatch in Oregun Road in Lagos in the presence of the eminent lawyer the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. I don’t know why Omeben did not know about this and he is accusing me wrongly.

The statement I made, and the ones made by Funmilayo (Dele’s wife) and Billy, I believe, are now in public domain. Chief Gani Fawehinmi must have published them in the series of books he published on this subject before he died. So I don’t understand why Omeben should tell Nigerians such a blatant lies. That is wickedness. He does not fear God at all. Thank God I am alive and I can respond to him. Can you imagine if I had died with Dele, Omeben and cohorts would have succeeded in putting cotton wool on the faces of Nigerians and sold a different story completely to them to exonerate those who did it. He said again “I have enough evidence to quiz Soyinka now”. Well, Nigerians should help me beg Omeben, if he truly has those “enough evidence” he should do us a big favour in Nigeria by releasing them to the public so that Nigerians can truly know who bombed us, Dele and I, on that day.

Again, Omeben said: “They started to insinuate that the assassination was masterminded by Babangida, Akilu etc. They said that Akilu ought to have been investigated.” Who else could have had the expertise to assemble a letter bomb in 1986 Nigeria if not the military? He did not want to investigate Akilu who was calling Dele’s house frantically on Saturday and who was the last person Dele spoke to on telephone on that Sunday and the bomb was delivered into the house minutes after. He doesn’t want to investigate Akilu but it is convenient to want to investigate Soyinka the victim and survivor of the bomb blast. Oh, what an investigator?

Lastly, I did not run away from Nigeria as he also claimed. I was in Nigeria throughout the controversies. My family was in the UK when the bomb blast occurred.

A Good Samaritan went to our home in London and handed them airline tickets to come immediately to Nigeria and join me. We were all in Nigeria throughout. My wife attended Dele’s burial with me at his village near Auchi in Edo State. My pictures with my wife beside me were spread on the pages on national newspapers the following morning after the burial – with my ears still covered with cotton wool.

Yet, Mr Omeben is pretending he did not know all this and is still saying :“Soyinka ran away to London”. I eventually left Nigeria shortly after Dele’s burial, which, if my memory services me right, was about two months after the bombing. And we did not have to leave or “run away” through the famous “Nadeco Route”. My wife and I, with our two little children, left through the Murtala Mohammed airport in Lagos and no one stopped us from taking the British Caledonian flight to London. Members of our family, Newswatch editors and friends escorted us to the airport. It was in full glare of the public.

I hope with these comments I have made Nigerian people will come to know Chris Omeben for who he truly is – certainly not an investigator as he claims to be but an errand boy and mischief maker, representing the interests of his “Ogas at the Top”, the real culprits who sent us the letter bomb.

He knows who the real suspects are. Nigerians know who the real suspects are. Certainly not me – Soyinka!

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    • Two by Two

      As commanded by their oga IBB.

  • ndu uche

    A day of accountability will come for all, then will every secret thing be revealed for all to see.

    • bobo

      Indeed, it’s only God that knows the truth.

      • Olugbenga Ebenezer

        I don’t know your age but anybody in Nigeria that is above 40 also knows the truth, Akilu, Marwa, IBB also know the truth

  • kalu

    there is GOD OOO!!. all will be judged. no one lives for ever. just go close to the dead who lived a wicked life and see the shape of their mouth on their death bed. their mouth are twisted and directionless cos there is crying and weeping going on in the hand of their creator whom they had BETRAYED, ignored and rebelled against while on earth. those who killed dele will never have rest including their unborn generation. take heart bro soyinka. there IS GOD.

    • Iskacountryman

      giwa committed suicide…

  • kalu

    i have not forgotten that day. 19th. of october. I was approaching FESTAC 1ST gate, when the news came. it was one of my saddest day. i cried for our beloved dele giwa.. what did he do that demanded such horrifying and wicked death in the hand of those who suppose to secure him. if he was to be based abroad, doing his journalism work, he would be living and be known all over the world and celebrated as a nigerian icon. but that is the nigeria we are defending that it must remain “one”. killing such a fine brillaint man like dele without remorse, and uptill today there is no clues of who killed him. there is no civiliize people that can accept that from any authority accept in nigeria or whatever name it is called. it is only righteousness that can keep a nation in continous existence. search history and found out where the old wicked empires are gone..the assyrians. the babylonian, the roman and othman empires .demise of wicked nations takes long, like TIME you won’t see or be able to measure how it progresses or how it gets close to an end, cos no wicked act would go unpunished. no nation or its leaders can be more poweful than GOD that created the nations and promised He would judge them. dele’s blood cries like that of abel.

  • sly

    What I know, which Soyinka’s article re enforced here, is that Nigerian journalists are very poor in investigative journalism. How could they run this delicate interview without hearing from Omeben’s so-called alleged ‘no 1 suspect’-Soyinka?

  • wops

    Life is indeed a journey!

  • Julius Oguntulu

    A very good investigative journalist would have done Nigerians good favour by bringing all the facts that pointed to Dele Giwa’s suspect. Some of the questions Nigerians should be asking is who could make letter bomb and deliver it precisely without government involvement? Is letter bomb all that easy to make that ordinary citizen can just lay their hands on? Why is Omeben coming out now to tell us facts that cannot be corroborated in any way? Does he think PMB will visit the past to that level? Dele Giwa’s death is not part of what PMB has come to investigate because it was one of the high profile killings of the past. Such killings are better left for God to unravel on the last day.

    • Ayo O

      This is one of the problems with Nigeria and Africa as a whole. We expect God to come down to the earth and do everything for us. Why cant PMB reopen the case? Cold cases in the UK and America of 50 years or more are constantly being reopened whilst culprits or perpetrators are apprehended and justice is served. The Nigerian security especially the police must wake up to its responsibility in the 21st century and redeem the long battered image of the country. The case must be reopened at all cost.

      • Two by Two

        Yes, but not when IBB is still alive and a northerner ex-military man in power.

  • For those of us who were ardent readers of the Newswatch Magazine until that gruesome murder in October 1986, this interview by Chris Omeben is hurtfully igniting a painful memory and adding salt to a gaping injury. I am not sure
    why Soyinka thought that it is worth his precious time to put a rejoinder to the load of claptrap from Chris Omeben. Chris Omeben is an example of the decadence in the rank and file of the Nigeria Police Force. He was in an exalted position of Deputy Inspector-General of Police, when the letter bomb blast occurred on October 19, 1986. What investigations did he carry out, given all the indicators that the assassination had all the hand-writing of the State Military Intelligence and the Babangida junta? Can Omeben in all honesty tell Nigerians what investigations he and his team conducted on Halilu Akilu, who called Dele’s house about three times consecutively on Saturday before the Sunday bombing and
    spoke to Funmilayo, Dele’s wife, to ask for description of and direction to Dele’s house in Ikeja? Perhaps this idiot is suffering from dementia to think that we have forgotten Babangida’s brutality against free speech and the press.
    Nigerians are not as stupid as Chris Omeben and we know exactly who murdered Dele Giwa. For coming out now and trying hard to distort facts and re-write history shows he is fully complicit in the gruesome assassination. In the tradition of the infamous Nigeria police, Chris Omeben should be courageous enough to tell Nigerians how much he
    was paid to pervert the course of justice and scamper the investigation into who murdered Dele Giwa. Pointing his blood stained fingers on the one person who miraculously escaped Babangida’s hit squad is not only preposterous, it is
    equally a smirk of falsehood. If he has nothing to tell Nigerians, Omeben should shut up his mouth and may he and his collaborators die a miserable death. We will never forget who murdered Dele Giwa. Our society will not be
    free and fair until all cases of historic murders and assassinations are re-opened and criminals told that they cannot get away with murder

    • Femi

      Amen to your prayers!

  • Diodemise M. Abele

    This policeman turn pastor sent mobile police to Irri ona Christmas Eve to kill people in the 1980s. The evil of a Killer is ” You Die before Me” . The Killer must die sometime in future. No body lives forever. They will join Dele Giwa in Grave someday.

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    Omeben, you are now a Pastor! What is the rationale in digging out this painful story? Could this be part of your guilt feeling about your role then?

  • Ayodele Aiyelabola

    Dele Giwa’s blood is still crying for justice. Omoben you were called a crack investigator, we are told you are a pastor and now you are in your old age. Sure your Bible teaches you of life after life.Best of luck. WHO KILLED DELE GIWA?