Two days after Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, said the emergence of Senator Iyiola Omisore as the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Secretary has put paid to investigation of the murder of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Omisore has fired back at the laureate, accusing him of being used by those he described as “drowning politicians”.
He lamented that a decade after the Bola Ige murder case, Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka still referred to him as a prime suspect, despite being cleared by the court.
Omisore, a former deputy governor of Osun State, said it was curious that Soyinka, who accused the Obasanjo government of complicity in Ige’s death when he described the government “as a nest of killers”, could now describe him as a suspect in 2022.
The Nobel Laureate in a statement at the weekend said Omisore’s endorsement as APC Secretary by President Muhammadu Buhari would tamper with judicial inquiries into Ige’s death because he is a prime suspect in the murder case.
Taking exception to the eminent scholar’s statement, Omisore said “it is an unnecessary propaganda some drowning politicians are trying to spread.”
The National Secretary also threatened to sue a political group in Osun APC for fabrication and defamation.
Omisore said “as brilliant as Prof. Soyinka is, he, no doubt, has no monopoly of knowledge.
In a statement by his office, Omisore said: “If the court of the land has vindicated a man, it is naive of him after nearly a decade to link Senator Iyiola Omisore to further search.
He added that “civil and criminal law knowledge should tell professor to ask his cousin, OBJ for the murder.”
Omisore added: “The world is aware of the framing of Senator Iyiola Omisore and his travails and trials facing murder charges and his subsequent acquittal and discharge, almost a decade ago by a competent court of the land.
“So, how come any man, can still refer to him as a possible suspect? The Prof is very wrong to say all that. It takes wickedness to spread the statements.”
Omisore alleged that despite the fact that not all Soyinka’s intervention in national life has produced the expected outcome in the long run, society has continued to hold him in esteem.
He said: “It is part of history and we are not too young, when we read of him, that professor too carried a gun into a Radio station; a criminal offense against the state. Yet, we continue to honour him.
“Can we also forget that Prof was appointed the chairman of education summit that gave birth to a single uniform for all secondary and primary schools and Opon Imo, during the tenure of Rauf Aregesola as governor of Osun State. A failed Education Policy that history will not readily forget.
“So, at 88, it’s better for him to stay clear of politics and not allow drowning politicians to use him to fight a cause he knows nothing about. It is a subtle warning to the respected Nobel Laureate.”
Omisore recalled that in 2004, Soyinka, who was 70, accused the Obasanjo government of complicity in the death of Ige by referring to the government as a “nest of killers”
He lamented that, in April, 2022, the Nobel Laureate, who is now 88, is complaining about his choice as National Secretary.
He also regretted that Soyinka, once attacked another Yoruba son, Gbenga Daniel, an engineer and former two-term governor of his native Ogun State.
He maintained that the record shows that he and others were tried for two and half years and later discharged and acquitted by the court.
Omisore said: “The recent volte face of Soyinka on the Bola Ige matter gives one a cause for concern. First, I was not a member of cabinet in Obasanjo’s government and second, a court of competent jurisdiction had set me and others free after a grueling two and half years trial with N2 billion damages awarded still unpaid by the state government.
“Besides, why has Omisore/Bola Ige matter become an issue of campaigns and elections deliberately used by Omisore’s opponents to undermine his influence?
“Or, are some people who are worried by the erudite and strong personality and capacity of Omisore as National Secretary using Soyinka to settle scores or pursue their political ambitions?
“Politics is a game and an avenue to serve and the Nobel Laureate can throw his hat in the ring if he so wishes instead of making unsubstantiated claims and causing confusion here and there, acts, that don’t befit his international recognition as an elder and statesman.”
In a statement titled, PERHAPS CLOSED FILES SHOULD REMAIN JUST THAT – CLOSED?, Soyinka had criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over the emergence of Omisore as APC National Secretary.
The statement read in full: “Barely three months have passed since the twentieth anniversary of the murder of the late Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, an occasion that I utilized to remind President Mohammed Buhari, of a subsisting election pledge. That pledge was to re-open the files on the spate of unsolved political assassinations that had plagued the nation in recent decades. Prominent among those cases was that of the Minister of Justice, murdered on his way to take up a prestigious position with the United Nations.
“Presidential response was swift. Buhari ordered the Inspector-General of Police to re-open those files and resume investigations. The nation has patiently awaited even a hint of Work in Progress. Most, I am certain, expect no less than a revaluation of prior investigative efforts. None, to my knowledge, has attempted to rush the Chief of Police and his team into judgment. We all take solace in the knowledge that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they arrive. Eventually.
“However, an unusual turn of events has raised questions. The ruling party, headed by the same President, has just elected as its National Secretary one of the prime suspects of this most notorious of the nation’s unsolved murders. Not for a moment does one suggest that mere accusation, even trial, presumes Guilt. More than a mere verdict is involved in any trial, however. The process of arriving at that ultimate destination – justice – is integral to the very concept of democracy and equality under the law. That process is one of the structures of civic education.
“Unresolved till today were quite a number of untidy, even suspect aspects of investigation, prosecution and trials, aspects which revealed improper cell co-habitation by suspects under custody. That this led necessarily to recantations of earlier depositions is not thereby proven, but the fact remains that such U-turns did take place. One was so brazen that it induced a heart attack that proved fatal to the victim’s wife, another Justice – Mrs. Atinuke Ige. That the prime suspect was privileged in a number of improper ways went beyond mere allegation. Political interventions, including pressure on the judiciary during bail hearings cannot be denied. A judge under such pressure kept a diary with accusations, pages of which he consigned to friends for safe keeping.
“With the emergence of the said prime suspect as National Secretary of the Ruling Party, is the Inspector-General of Police equipped to confront political obstacles in a resumption of investigation? Is there any guarantee that the result will see the light of day? How suspect, ab initio, will be the conclusions, given the present political ordering?
“I repeat: we are speaking of blatant, undeniable exercise of POLITICAL interventions during investigations and the arraignment of suspects. Prior incumbency of the position of National Secretary of a ruling party has demonstrated the potent interventionist clout that can be wielded from that office. The president has personally received, and thus anointed the new incumbent. Since he remains central to any re-investigation – whatever form or direction it takes – just what value of objective assessment can be placed on the presidential pledge?
“To this layman, that investigative revisit is already hamstrung and disrobed of credibility. I think the nation should simply relieve President Buhari of his pledge. I am certain the Inspector-General of Police will be equally relieved and can now turn his mind and energy to the national accustomed posture – Business as Usual.”
▪︎ Additional reports by The Nation