Soyinka dares Police, vows to join protests; Soyinka, Ehindero Speak on Ige`s Murder

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May 23, 2007

Soyinka dares Police, vows to join protests

  • Faults drug baron claim on Ige’s murder


  • IG affirms President’s claim


  • Says suspects ‘ll be paraded soon

    By Kodilinye Obiagwu (Lagos) and John-Abba Ogbodo (Abuja)

    AN angry Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday declared readiness to join Nigerians in protesting the result of last month’s general elections and dared the police to teargas the assembly.

    The Nobel Laureate also rejected President Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim that the murder of former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, was masterminded by a drug baron.

    However, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, has giving further insight into the drug baron theory, saying that the President’s statement is true.

    Ehindero also pledged to parade the suspects very soon. But Soyinka has found as rankling, the IG’s recent threat to crush street protests over last month’s general elections, which have been strongly criticised by both local and foreign observers.

    The IG last week told police commissioners to put down the planned protests, even violently, noting that enough teargas had been provided by the government.

    But Soyinka, at a press conference to present the position of his fellow Nobel laureates on the elections, expressed dismay that the head of a nation’s police force could threaten to violently put down a planned protest by the civil society and Labour organisation.

    He faulted Ehindero’s public statements on the Public Order Act and said that the police chief would be held responsible for the inciting statements, even when he is out of office.

    Soyinka said: “I have been very distressed, angered and disturbed by recent pronouncements of the Inspector General of Police Sunday Ehindero who is supposed to have some legal training and should know where the law stands on the issue of public procession and demonstration.

    “Ehindero knows very well that the courts have struck down the notion of Public Order. Legal opinion is that as long as that ruling stands, the Public Order Act does not exist. Yet he is calling his men to crush any ‘illegal’ procession.”

    On the consequence of such violent language, Soyinka said: “I am warning him that when he leaves office, any crime which is attributable to the language of incitement that he has used to encourage the police to inflict brutality on the Nigerian people will be considered a crime against humanity and he will be pursued to the ends of the world.”

    He added: “It is in response to his language of incitement that a journalist was brutalised in Ondo State.”

    Soyinka said that it was time to independently check Ehindero and test his interpretation of the law of brutality.

    He said: “I am therefore calling on civil leaders to let us agree on a date where we will march arm in arm in defiance of Ehindero’s lawlessness. If Ehindero decides to trample on the law, the civil society must rise and defend the law. It is about time that we held a meeting, and march in the streets and allow Ehindero to expend all his gas canisters on us.”

    On his readiness to defy the police, the Nobel laureate declared: “I had said before that it is back to the barricades. I am saying it again and I believe in it more than ever before. I support 100 per cent the procession, which the Nigeria United for Democracy (NUD) is championing to protest the rape of our democracy.”

    Accusing Ehindero of toeing the path of a former IGP in the Second Republic Sunday Adewusi, Soyinka alleged that the incumbent police chief is laying the foundation for urban violence and strife by his conduct and language.

    Soyinka also condemned the recent statements by President Olusegun Obasanjo claiming that drug barons killed Chief Bola Ige. He said: “What I find reprehensible is his (the President’s) attempt to blacken the image of Ige.”

    The Nobel laureate said that the statement was similar to the one that the president made when the PDP politician Aminosari Dikibo was killed. “The President, less than 24 hours after the murder, said armed robbers were responsible,” Soyinka noted.

    He alleged that it “was President Obasanjo who sabotaged the attempts by Ige to transform the Power and Steel sector.”

    The Nobel laureate claimed that President Obasanjo lied about the murder of Ige. He, however, said he was not surprised by Obasanjo’s disclosure, stressing that the President “might be suffering from withdrawal syndrome.” He advised that it was in Obasanjo’s interest to leave the dead to rest.

    Soyinka queried: “How can Obasanjo come and accuse the late Ige of not knowing his left from his right?”

    He added: “I think he should be ashamed of himself. If he has chosen to open this can of worms, I sit here before you as witness to the day-by-day activities that went on in the Power and Mines Ministry.”

    Soyinka accused the President of refusing to sack those people identified by the late Ige as being responsible for corruption in the power sector, stressing that the same people burnt the power equipment that resulted in a 48-hour national blackout.

    “What I find reprehensible is his (Obasanjo) attempt to blacken the memory of Ige. I say this not because Ige was my friend, but because that very act is not just uncharitable, it is blasphemous.

    “It was Obasanjo who sabotaged the effort of Ige to completely turn round the power supply in this nation.

    “When Obasanjo offered Ige the choice of ministries, Ige came to me. Two questions were involved – should he accept to serve and the second was which one should he choose. I know we have many lawyers that can handle the Ministry of Justice, but it requires a certain kind of commitment to be able to solve the perennial problem of power.”

    Soyinka continued: “I advised him to take Dr. Olu Agunloye along if he was going to the Power Ministry. Agunloye is one of the most innovative and technical-minded persons around and he is meticulous about what he does. He is into engineering, research etc.

    “And from day one when they began work, I was kept regularly informed of their programme. My laptop was full of all discoveries.”

    The Nobel laureate disclosed further: “Anytime there was any problem, Ige went there physically, whether it was Shiroro, Egbin. And he came to Lagos and what they discovered was an unbelievable quantum of corruption. Agunloye has all the details and they are all filed away.

    “When they reached the core of the power problem in this nation, those affected saw Ige’s efforts and they sabotaged him. You remember the 48-hour blackout in Nigeria? Some of the engineers got killed in deliberate explosions at some stations of NEPA.”

    He queried Obasanjo’s motives for the administration’s reaction to the late Ige’s discovery. His words: “What did Obasanjo do? Those who committed the crime rushed to Obasanjo and told him ‘you see this is the result of Bola Ige’s interference; we were doing our work and he started giving orders.’

    “I have always said that part of his problem is that he always believed in stories, and he succeeded in humiliating Ige by removing him from the ministry without first cross checking what the truth was.”

    Soyinka continued: “If he had not removed Ige, he would have succeeded in getting to the core of the corruption and the irresponsibility that went on. I dare Obasanjo to deny this.”

    But Ehindero yesterday provided more insights into President Obasanjo’s declaration that Ige’s murder was masterminded by a drug baron.

    The Police chief, who announced this development in Abuja, in his valedictory Press Conference, said that the drug baron had imported 13 containers of hard drug which were intercepted by security agents, while the baron was in prison custody.

    According to Ehindero, all attempts to bribe Ige with millions of Dollars were rebuffed.

    Throwing more light to the murder theory, Ehindero disclosed that currently the drug baron and those who executed the act are all in the police custody.

    He praised the Police for displaying high level of dexterity in its ability to penetrate the prison and uncover how the act was executed.

    Ehindero, stated that all the details of how the drug baron masterminded the act, had been uncovered and that the whole world would be duly informed in a few days time as the suspects would be publicly paraded.

    He further disclosed that the late Ige personally decided to prosecute the case as the Attorney General because of the magnitude of the offence.

    Giving details of his stewardship in the last two and a half years, the out-going Inspector General, said that he hoped his successor would continue from where he stopped as he bows out, after 35 years in the force.

    Ehindero said that the force under his leadership maintained zero-tolerance to corruption, as the integrity squad he set up, struck at various locations throughout the country and as a result, 28 policemen were arrested and publicly paraded for graft and extortion.

    He added that recently, 287 officers of the rank of ASP to DCP and 10,385 junior ranks were sacked for offences ranging from corruption, severe indiscipline and serious misconduct.

    Ehindero announced that a Police task force recovered 8,920 arms and 216,333 ammunition between 2005 and May, 2007.

    The IGP, said that in response to increase in the intensity of bank robbery, the management of the force effectively deployed Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) to combat the crime, stating that the effort had led to the establishment of Anti Bank Robbery Squad that recorded the arrest of 269 suspects and recovery of N29 million, $35,000, 8,380 pounds and 3,240 Euros.



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