Dele Giwa: Omeben’s claims disgraceful, says Soyinka

Former London correspondent of Newswatch Magazine, Kayode Soyinka, has described a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Chris Omeben, who recently turned 80, as a blatant liar and a complete disgrace to the Nigeria Police Force.

In a statement on Thursday, Soyinka, who noted that Omeben is now a pastor, urged the retired police chief to ask for God’s forgiveness for accusing him (Soyinka) of being culpable in the murder of the founding editor of the Newswatch Magazine, Dele Giwa.

Giwa, was killed by a parcel bomb at his Ikeja, Lagos residence on October 19, 1986.

Omeben, who spearheaded investigation into Giwa’s murder, had in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, earlier in the week, regretted that he was not allowed to interrogate Soyinka, who was with Giwa at the time of the bomb explosion, but managed to escape death.

Omeben alleged that, having known what was coming, Soyinka, who was with Giwa, excused himself shortly before the bomb exploded.

The retired police investigator also said Soyinka was shielded from investigation until he was allowed to escape to London.

But Soyinka said Omeben was a disgraceful police officer for fingering him as the suspected killer of Giwa rather than a former Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Halilu Akilu, who served under the former military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

Soyinka said, “Chris Omeben, who was a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, when the letter bomb blast occurred on October 19, 1986, is a complete disgrace to the Nigeria Police Force.

“He claimed to be an investigator of the 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 on Saturday before the Sunday bombing and spoke to Funmilayo, Dele’s wife, to ask for the 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! This man, who I understand is now a pastor, has no fear of God in him at all, making such bold erroneous statement like that on an issue of such sensitivity and accusing me, an innocent man – a victim and survivor of the bomb blast.

“He should ask God for forgiveness!

“So, let me let Omeben know again – if he does not know already, and so that he does not keep repeating these erroneous allegations again 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 envelop 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 the 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?”

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