Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
THE MACABRE CIRCUS OF KEYAMO'S ARREST
Mobolaji E. Aluko, Ph.D
The police apparatchiks of the civilian regime in Nigeria are now truly acting like the military regime of Abacha, intimidating those whose names or faces they do not like for some reason or the other. Their latest victim is Festus Keyamo, whose arrest yesterday is now really turning the Ige murder investigation into an unbelievably macabre circus.
A quick summary is appropriate here. On December 23, 2001, Chief Bola Ige was killed in his bedroom by yet unknown assailants [Reference 1.] A few days later, one Adeniyi Yinusa (age 27) turned himself into the Police in Ibadan, "confessing" to being part of the gang that killed Ige. He was later to be declared off his rockers, famously insane, drug-induced, award-money-induced or all the three of the above. [Reference 2.]
On Monday, January 14, Lawyer Festus Keyamo, with one Joseph Olugbenga Damola Elubode Adebayo ("Frayo") in tow, revealed at a press conference via a deposition what he knew about the killings, to "oohs" and "aahs." [Reference 3.] Frayo was of course taken into custody in Lagos, and then transported to Abuja, yes Abuja.
The investigations had a public lull until Wednesday, February 13, when Police arrested two journalists, Publisher Mr. Segun Banjo, and Femi Davies, of the Ace magazine over their relationship with Frayo. [Reference 4] Apparently, they had quartered Frayo for a few days before advising him to "hire" Keyamo as his lawyer and turning him over to his new "mentor."
On Friday, February 15, a newspaper published a retraction letter by Frayo, saying that he was coerced and coached by Keyamo into writing his earlier deposition, and divesting him (Keyamo) of legal representation of his (Frayo’s) humble self. [Reference 5].
Now, it has been revealed that Festus Keyamo was himself been arrested on Saturday, February 16, 2002. [Reference 6.]
For what, one might ask? Why the heck would Keyamo be arrested? Are we in a Gestapo police state or what?
A simple reason for this latest arrest? Intimidation and cover-up, period.
Why do I write so? At no point has ANY indication been made that Keyamo was involved in the plot, murder or cover-up either of Hon Odunayo Olagbaju or Chief Bola Ige. So why must he be so harassed? Just because he chose to represent Frayo at Frayo’s invitation, and needed some time to establish some client-lawyer relationship with an agitated and frightened Frayo, frightened because he did not want the police to get to him and terminate him before he could make any statement?
If the authorities need to get information from Keyamo, then they should proceed with the case and subpoena information from Keyamo on the witness stand or something rather than treat him like a criminal. Heck, is there no client-lawyer privilege in Nigeria any more?
If Frayo has decided that he no longer wishes Keyamo to represent as a lawyer, does that not mean that he ONCE represented him as such? OK, if Frayo no longer likes Keyamo, so be it: is that why the police should go rummaging through his office?
Why all of this Gestapo tactic to search Keyamo’s office for tapes and document authority from Frayo to Keyamo? Does the burly-sized Frayo look like a candidate for a small-sized Keyamo to intimidate into writing a deposition? "Prima facie": which letter would a reasonable man be inclined to believe: is it the one written by Keyamo while Frayo was free, or the one written by Frayo in the custody of the Police, denouncing Keyamo?
Abeg: Who is kidding whom here?
That brings me to Professor Wole Soyinka, whose early criticism of Keyamo continues to be given prominence in the media.
I am now urging the Nobel laureate to intervene righteously in this unfolding mess, which will just give our Nigerian justice system a terrible eye once again in the international comity of nations.
This appeal to Soyinka is because I believe that some of Prof. Soyinka’s earlier statements about Keyamo’s involvement may have given the authorities in Nigeria the backbone to be harassing Keyamo. That may not have been Prof. Soyinka’s intention, but that is the REALITY that it is turning out to be.
If Prof. Soyinka is reluctant to intervene, may I remind him that so far, Frayo is a mere suspect, not guilty. Furthermore:
during the regime of General Abacha of 1993 - 1998, he (Soyinka) was declared wanted for treason along with Chief Enahoro, General Akinrinade and present Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu - WRONGFULLY I might add. [Reference 7] However, Prof. Soyinka also declared himself "missing" from Nigeria, and many people saw him - including yours truly - saw him during that declaration and DID not turn him in. At least, Keyamo was MORE LAWYFUL and turned Frayo in, even if belated after a mere five days.
Following the rigged October 11, 1965 Western Region election during the Akintola regime, then Mr. Wole Soyinka was accused - ironically along with then Mr. Bola Ige - of trying to assassinate Premier Samuel Ladoke Akintola with a gun at the Radio Ibadan. He was, like Frayo, declared wanted by the police authorities. [Reference 8.]
Again, Mr. Soyinka went missing for quite some time! Again, although I was merely 10 years old then, yours truly VERY DISTINCTLY remember seeing him with my very own eyes one evening as he barged into a University of Nigeria, Nsukka residential living room. He was quickly spirited away to safety by his friends, some of who were members of my immediate family. I was too young to turn him in - and would not have if I were old enough - but I know adults who could have turned him in, and never did, even after five whole days!
My point here, Prof. Soyinka, is that you were once and many times like Frayo, and many people were once like your Keyamo. So Prof, let us be realistic here: Kindly say something on Keyamo’s behalf.
One also hopes that the Nigerian lawyers both at home and abroad will rise up in defence of Keyamo and against this assault of "our" noble institution, I being an armchair untrained "lawyer."
My point? With this arrest, the Nigerian Police is now truly chasing shadows over this Ige investigation.
The NPF is making a mockery of justice and turning the investigation into a circus. The true murderers - whoever and wherever they are - will be laughing silently somewhere that the NPF is barking up the wrong tree, looking for them in all of the wrong places.
Ige’s murder investigation should not be going this way. It is truly a disgrace that the murder of the highest law enforcement officer in the land is being turned into a circus. Keyamo is not the problem.
The authorities may not find the killers, but they have no right to force us to become hapless watchers of a macabre circus.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.