Without any official announcement, President Umaru Yar’Adua has begun a gradual and silent probe of his predecessor, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Just this week, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan announced that the privatization exercise carried out by the past administration will be reviewed and ordered the National Assembly to initiate the process.
Yar’Adua has also indicated interest in unraveling the rash of unsolved murder mysteries that pervaded the Obasanjo administration. For now, the focus is on the brutal double murder of Barrister Igwe and his wife. The former President of the Onitsha branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and his wife were killed by unknown persons on September 1, 2002 at Onitsha, Anambra state.
For a long time, close associates of former President Obasanjo were suspected of involvement in the double assassination. However, investigation into the case was purposely bungled to shield the culprits.
President Yar’Adua seemed set to flash the light into the darkest spots of his predecessor’s administration; the unsolved political assassinations. A pointer towards that emerged when the Presidency directed the Police to reopen the 2002 double murder of Onitsha branch Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association and his wife as well as solve other such “high level profile assassinations.”
Obasanjo: Under probe?
What makes this directive which came from the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Gen. Abdulahi Mohammed (rtd), revolutionary is that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s closest aide, Mr. Nnamdi “Andy” Uba is clearly in the line of fire as he and two others were categorically named as being behind the murders which took place in broad daylight and right in the streets of Onitsha, host to West Africa’s largest market. Mr. Uba, a Senior Special Assistant to the former President on Household Matters, was clearly the most influential aide to Obasanjo and the closest person to him as he was said to be first to see him in the morning and the last to do so at night. He served as the veritable Man Friday to Obasanjo, with his hand said to be in every pie. An electoral tribunal nullified his election as the Anambra State Governor in the last April elections after he had spent just 21 days on office.
The COS’s letter to the Inspector General of Police, dated 22 October 2007, was in reaction to a 24 September 2007 petition to the President from Concerned Lawyers in Onitsha, a large metropolis on the River Niger, South East Nigeria. The lawyers had sent a similar petition to Obasanjo, dated 115th August, 2003 but which produced no re-action or even an acknowledgement. That petitioned was attached to the one sent to Yar’Adua.
Andy Uba: Culpable?
Yet, even as early as July 2003 newspapers and magazines have reported leads that pointed towards Uba and his colleagues now under the search light; his brother Chris, a businessman and former political godfather of Ananmbra State politics until Uba uprooted him with Abuja’s help, after a raucous fight. The third person, Chuma Nzeribe, is now a member of the House of Representatives. When the murder occurred, Nzeribe was a Security Adviser to the Anamabra State’s then Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who was eventually blamed for the murder and remains until now, the only person ever questioned and arraigned in court by the police for the murder of Barnabas Igwe and his wife. As Security Adviser, Nzeribe controlled a special and private militia, the Bakassi Boys, now disbanded.
The letter from the Presidency directing the Police to reopen the case. Click link below for large view.
Interestingly, the major plank of the petition which moved the President to act was a report published in the Sunday Vanguard newspaper of July 2003, saying that according to intelligence sources, “attempts by the Police and other security agencies to apprehend the culprits after incontrovertible evidence, were however said to have hit the brick wall when some government top government officials stepped in and prevented the agencies from carrying out the arrest on the grounds that the security reports were not convincing enough”.
For years, Chuma Nzeribe has been linked to the murders, but the Police never questioned him. In an interview published in the Guardian newspaper of Saturday September 20, 2003, Mr. I.B.B. Maduafokwa said he had sent out a 30-page petition to the Anambra State Commissioner of Police where he accused Nzeribe and others of the double murder. He said in that interview: “Bring Chuma Nzeribe to court, bring all these people, and I will prove that he has a hand in the death of the Igwes”. The police simple ignored him. Those he openly accused of murder refused to sue him.
Now, Obasanjo is out and Yar’Adua is in as President, so there is a new sheriff in town and the case is being re-opened. COS ’s letter to the Inspector General of Police was emphatic: “I am further directed to request you to re-open investigation into the sifting facts, leads and clues as graphically highlighted by the petitioner in this letter under reference.” Pointing out that the Police is expected to go beyond this case and reopen other unsolved murders, the directive continued: “It is suffice to add that your breakthrough in this and other high level profiles assassinations would restore hope and confidence in our security system.”
Under the Obasanjo administration, several political murders remained unsolved, including that of the then serving Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Obasanjo’s personal friend, Mr. Bola Ige, who was shot clinically in his bedroom, as his security details were out to buy supper. A ruling Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, A.K. Dikkibo, was shot on a high way, and within two hours, Obasanjo declared that highway robbers were to blame.
According to the petition, Igwe, a known critic of the Governor was killed so that it would be blamed on the Governor and so render him “unre-electable”. So when the Governor traveled to Texas, USA, a week before the murder, Nzeribe, appeared there too rather unexpectedly. The petition continued that “When he (Nzeribe) arrived on a Saturday, on the eve of the murder, at a restaurant in Texas, I have four witnesses, that when they were talking with Nzeribe at 10 pm, he asked them, “if anything happens in Anambra now, will you come and arrest somebody who is in US? He asked them that question three times”.