Dele Giwa: 31 years after, he still remains a legend

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Dele Giwa will always remain a legend in Nigerian history

31 years after one of Nigeria's most known journalist was killed in the first ever parcel bomb in the country, his legacy still lives on.

Many Nigerians who were born after 1986 or in the 90s will hardly have any idea who Dele Giwa was, what he stood for and what he achieved in his life before he was cut shut via a letter bomb, the first ever witnessed in the nation.

Born Sumonu Oladele Giwa on March 16, 1946, this consummate and thoroughbred journalist was murdered October 19, 1986, making it exactly 37 years today since he paid the ultimate prize for daring to pursue what he loved.

The pioneer Editor and founder of Newswatch Magazine, Giwa, a legendary and uncompromising journalist, via a parcel bomb right inside his Talabi Street, Ikeja, Lagos home at about 11: 40 am.

Giwa who was just 39-years-old at the time he was assassinated, was the first every victim of such an ingenious way of murder and till date, his killers have not been apprehended despite many theories expounded by various investigative panels set up.

ALSO READ: "Dele Giwa: 30 years on, ghost of fearless journalist continues to haunt IBB"

Giwa was born to a poor family working in the palace of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife. He attended Local Authority Modern School in Lagere, Ile-lfe but when his father moved to Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, as a laundryman, he gained admission to the prestigious school.

Giwa later traveled to the United States of America for his higher education, earning a BA in English from Brooklyn College in 1977 and enrolled in a Graduate program at Fordham University.

 

He worked with the New York Times as a News assistant for four years after which he relocated to Nigeria to work with Daily Times.

In 1984, Giwa founded Newswatch Magazine alongside other journalists like Ray Ekpu, Yakubu Mohammed, and Dan Agbese, with the first edition hitting the streets on January 28, 1985.

And within a short while, Newswatch magazine became of the most read titles in Nigeria in the '80s.

With the popularity of the Magazine came a haunted life as he became a thorn in the flesh of the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. After romancing with Babangida for some months, the magazine began taking a more hostile view of the regime and their Editors soon became marked men.

He got invitations by the State Security Service [SSS] officials on several occasions with the military junta always picking him up due to his unwavering brand of investigative journalism. His magazine was proscribed many times by the government while editors and reporters were harassed, arrested at will and brutalized on many occasions.

A month to his death, precisely September 19, 1986, Giwa had been invited by the SSS to their headquarters after writing an article in which he described the newly introduced Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market [SFEM] as 'God's experiment' and suggested that if SFEM failed, the people would will stone their leaders in the streets.

Giwa was reportedly interviewed and his statement taken by two SSS operatives and was to later meet with Lt. Col. A.K. Togun, the Deputy Director of the SSS, in his office.

 

Lt. Col. Togun is reported to have told Giwa that he found nothing offensive in the story as Giwa had also stated in the same story that he was hopeful that Babangida seemed determined to make SFEM work.

However, Giwa was killed by the mail bomb in his Lagos home on October 19 of that year, two days after he had been invited yet again by the SSS for another interview.

According to Giwa's colleague who was also his neighbour, Ekpu, on October 16, 1986, Giwa had been questioned over the telephone by Col. Halilu Akilu of the Directorate of Military Intelligence [DMI] over an allegation that he [Giwa] had been heard speaking to some people about arms importation.

The SSS officials reportedly summoned Giwa to their headquarters again later that day and on the next day, Ekpu accompanied him to the SSS headquarters for the interview.

Lt. Col. Togun was said to have accused Giwa and Newswatch of planning to write the 'other side' of a story on how Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe who was removed as Chief of the General Staff to Gen. Babangida lost out in the power game in its next edition which was to come out on October 20.

Lt. Col. Togun also accused Giwa of plotting with the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC], the Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU], and students to carry out a socialist revolution.

ALSO READ: "Dele Giwa: Fred Agbaje calls on Buhari to probe death of late journalist"

Ekpu also believed that their houses and phones may have been bugged because he and Giwa had discussed employing the suspended Police Public Relations Officer, Alozie Ogugbuaja, over the phone only, only for the SSS to question them about the discussion, and that he found two bugging devices on the cover of two books inside his study.

 

Giwa married an American nurse in 1974 but the marriage crashed and he went on to marry Florence Ita-Giwa, a one time Senator and popularly known as Mama Bakassi. The marriage lasted only 10 months.

He later married Olufunmilayo Olaniyan in 1984 and they were married until his death in 1986.

Though Dele Giwa has been dead for 31 years now, and we are nowhere near bringing his killers to justice, his legacy lives on.



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