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Lawyers Ask Buhari to Reopen Dele Giwa’s Murder Case



Prominent lawyers, including Fred Agbaje and Wahab Shittu, have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the stalled investigation into the murder of the founding editor of Newswatch Magazine, Dele Giwa, is re-opened immediately.
Agbaje, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said that since the case had not reached a dead end, the President could take it upon himself, in the interest of public accountability, to order a fresh investigation into the murder of the journalist.
He said, “This matter borders on public morality and public goodwill, as well as responsibility in governance. If President Muhammadu Buhari can investigate the atrocities that were perpetrated by the erstwhile administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, what prevents the same Buhari, in the interest of public accountability, to start a fresh investigation of the murder of Dele Giwa?
“As the President of Nigeria and someone who was overwhelmingly voted for in the spirit of change, he must not allow this case to go without being thoroughly investigated.”
Agbaje noted that, based on the utterances of former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Chris Omeben, a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, and the leadership of Newswatch in the media about Giwa’s death, it was clear that a case of culpable homicide had been criminally, negligently and unconstitutionally buried in the archives of the police.
“So, with regard to what the interested persons have said, it is high time that the case file be retrieved from the archives in the interest of the Nigerian public, the tax payers, generations yet unborn and in the interest of accountability, probity and responsibility in governance, as well as in the interest of maintaining the sanctity of humanity.
“Even in countries like Britain and the United States, criminal cases are never buried. Where new evidence arises, the police will go back to the archives and start afresh or conclude their criminal investigation and then prosecute, so as to serve as a lesson to the larger society, the criminals themselves, the victims of crime and the international community,” he said.
In an event of police declaring vital documents pertaining to the case missing, Agbaje argued, that the human element angle to the investigation should be emphasised.
He said, “Those who are connected to the case are still alive. Former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, Ray Ekpu and others in the Newswatch, as well as Florence Ita-Giwa are still alive. Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, is not above the law. Probe him. He is still alive.
“If the documentary evidence has been destroyed, the human witnesses can be invited to come and give fresh evidence in the case and to give it a fresh direction. It is in the public interest that Nigerians should know what exactly led to the death of Dele Giwa.”
Shittu, another Lagos-based lawyer, said since time does not run against crime, there was nothing stopping the Federal Government from ordering investigation into Giwa’s murder, if a new lead had emerged.
Shittu said the death of Giwa would continue to be a burden on the government as long as his killer was not found.
“Time does not run against criminal proceedings. If there is a new lead to be investigated, why wouldn’t the state reopen the case?
“Dele Giwa was a foremost journalist, highly talented, and he was murdered in cold blood. His death, so long as it remains unresolved will continue to haunt the state.
“So, if the government wants to reopen investigation, why not? What is important is the search for the truth, and to bring whoever is culpable to book. I think it will be very convenient for the state to ignore whatever anybody is saying at this moment and just undertake an independent investigation to uphold the truth.”
Also speaking, another lawyer, Mr. Femi Aina, said there was no statute of limitation in criminal cases, adding that it would not be wrong for the Federal Government to leverage on technological advancement which did not exist as of the time Giwa was murdered.
“What was done to Dele Giwa was criminal and there is no statute of limitation in criminal cases. If a crime is committed today, it can still be prosecuted 20 or 30 years after.
“For instance, there is now a lot of advancement in technology, as opposed to the time when Dele Giwa was killed. There have been cases in the UK where people committed a crime 20, 30 years before and they were later prosecuted due to advancement in technology. We now have people who had been presumed innocent years ago because of insufficient evidence, but with advanced technology and the evidence coming to the light, they are now being found guilty.
“There is nothing wrong for the government to set up a judicial commission of enquiry to find out who killed Dele Giwa and people can come out to give evidence and it is possible for the commission to recommend people who are found culpable for criminal prosecution.”
Similarly, another lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani, charged the Federal Government to reopen investigation, not only into Giwa’s murder, but also all other unresolved murder cases under the military regime and the 16 years of People Democratic Party’s rule.
Ubani said, “No matter how long a crime has gone unresolved, there is no time limitation for the investigation of crime. I have seen crimes committed in America for 60, 70 years, that were eventually investigated and the people found culpable were prosecuted.
“It is a good development that there is a renewed interest in the death of Dele Giwa now and I think the Federal Government should launch an investigation, not only into the death of Dele Giwa, but also all others committed under the military rule of Babangida and Abacha, as well as the recent rule of the Peoples Democratic Party for the period of 16 years.
“It is a positive development and I support a fresh investigation into the case.”

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