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Endless trial! Still in Kirikiri, 13 years after arrest over Pa Rewane’s death

Posted by By Paul Omo Obadan on 2008/06/30 | Views: 2398 |

Endless trial! Still in Kirikiri, 13 years after arrest over Pa Rewane’s death


They all have one common denominator surrounding their death – controversy. Apart from Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, who died in the military gulag while valiantly fighting to claim his mandate, his wife, Kudirat, elder statesman, Alfred Ogbeyiwa Rewane, Toyin Onagoruwa and a journalist, Bagauda Kaltho of The News magazine, were all cut down by assassins allegedly working also for the military junta.

• I’m innocent - Igbinovia

They all have one common denominator surrounding their death – controversy. Apart from Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, who died in the military gulag while valiantly fighting to claim his mandate, his wife, Kudirat, elder statesman, Alfred Ogbeyiwa Rewane, Toyin Onagoruwa and a journalist, Bagauda Kaltho of The News magazine, were all cut down by assassins allegedly working also for the military junta.

Curiously, more than a decade after the gruesome decimation of the lives of these illustrious Nigerians, the police were yet to apprehend their killers or have merely paraded suspects that have continued to plead their innocence. Besides, some of the suspects have also died under questionable circumstances.

For instance, five of the suspects - Ola Obanuso, Sylvester Iyabele, Sunday Ogbeide, Akeem Alli and Sunday Obanobi - incarcerated over the October 6, 1995 assassination of elder statesman, Pa Rewane, have all died in detention just as three of the surviving suspects - Lucky Igbinovia, Effiong Elemi and Elvis Irenuna - have been in detention for about 13 years.
Their counsel has consistently prayed the court to strike out the charges against them, noting that they were the only survivors out of the nine arrested in connection with Rewane’s death. Each time the matter is transferred to another judge, their trial starts afresh.

He expressed fears that the way the prosecution was going about the matter, it may never be concluded, adding that the accused persons have serious health problems and need medical attention, which the prison authorities have not been able to give them.
The matter, which was formerly before Justice Ogunmekan, started afresh (de novo) when it was transferred to Justice Nwaka and had been adjourned over nine times. The former judge (Ogunmeka) was hearing the trial-within-trial called by the court to determine the admissibility of the alleged confessional statement made by the first accused person, Lucky Igbinovia.

The defence counsel from Moses Oddiri Chambers had contended during the trial that the first accused person was beaten up and forced to sign a confessional statement written by the police.
Effiong and Elvis, in the course of the trial-within-trial, told the court that Lucky, who was brought to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) alongside the other suspects, was handed an already prepared statement to sign and that when he refused, a biro was forced into his hand by one Corporal Simeon Igbinogbere, who made him (Lucky) to sign the statement.

Meanwhile, Coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Comrade Joseph Evah, who has been crusading for the release of the suspects in a chat with Sunday Sun said: “Lucky and the two others, who were part of the seven persons arrested for allegedly killing Rewane, should be set free. Most of the domestic servants of Rewane were arrested by the military at the time to cover up his death.

Also in a statement signed by Evah, the group said: “The Ijaw Monitoring Group wants pro-democracy activists to prevail on the government of Lagos State and its judiciary to discontinue the trial of the suspected killers of Pa Rewane. The people of Niger Delta are embarrassed that these people are being paraded as killers of Pa Rewane despite the confession of Sergeant Rogers to the contrary as head of the (late General Sani Abacha) strike force that went after those opposed to the regime and the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

“Out of the seven arrested in 1997, four of the suspects have died in detention yet no evidence to conclude the trial has been found for 13 years.
We expect June 12 activists like (Bola) Tinubu, Femi Falana, Gani Fawehinmi, Gani Adams among others to prevent the spilling of innocent blood in Rewane’s name and insist on the actual killers facing justice.”

The IMG also asked the judiciary to handle election matters under the criminal justice system “to enable the poor masses benefit from their spirit of justice.”
“Nigerians are celebrating the judiciary for dispensing justice without delay in election matters. Let them do something to prevent ordinary people facing trial on trumped-up charges.
“Now, by the grace of God, we have seen the people who killed Rewane. So why are they keeping these boys when out of the seven, four were killed mysteriously by the system to cover up?” Evah stated, wondering why the Lagos State government was still prosecuting them.

“Why is Lagos State government delaying and tormenting these people for the past 13 years when we have seen all the killers of Abiola, Kudirat and Rewane?
“Those of us celebrating the June 12 anniversary, that are alive today, have no conscience for allowing these young people to suffer for nothing in prison,” he said.
The hearing came up at the Ikeja High Court last Tuesday where Lucky told Sunday Sun that he was fed up with the court process, saying his appearance in court was just a mere formality as the Judge does not show up in court.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.