Twelve years after the murder of Chief Bola Ige, who was then the Attorney General of the Federation, the major dramatis personae in the murder case are yet to shield their swords. Last week, Senator Iyiola Omisiore, who was arrested in connection with the murder of the former Attorney General and later discharged by the court, asked Lagos Lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, to apologise to Nigerians over the murder case. Keyamo was a prosecution witness in that case and was at the centre of the allegation linking Omisore to the murder of Ige. In this interview with THISDAY, Keyamo says Omisore should rather seek God’s forgiveness. He also expresses his views on whether Ige’s killers would ever be found.
In a recent interview, Senator Omisore brought back the memories of the Ige murder case, of which you were deeply involved in terms of private investigation. He demanded that you must apologise to Nigerians over your role in trying to rope him in. What would you say about this?
When I read Senator Omisore’s interview last Sunday, I simply shook my head and said to myself, this man is an unrepentant liar and a desperate politician. If Senator Omisore does not want to let sleeping dogs lie, we will help him wake up the dogs. Senator Omisore should kneel down before his God and ask for forgiveness. He knows very well how the murder case against him in respect of the death of Bola Ige was bungled when the PDP government under Senator Rasheed Ladoja took over the reigns of government in Oyo State and all kinds of drama began to happen. The Ministry of Justice in Oyo State that was very cooperative under Governor Lam Adesina began to act very funny.
As a prosecution witness in that case, I will say this authoritatively. If the prosecuting counsel, Chief Debo Akande, SAN, were to be alive, he would have told you the same thing. For instance, without just cause, the murder charge against Omisore’s brother, Fryo, and the other suspects was discontinued. In fact, the Police also bungled the investigation before the matter arrived in court.
For the information of the public, the prime witness in that case who was to testify against Senator Omisore and the other suspects, including his younger brother, was put in the same executive cell as Senator Omisore at Alagbon Close for more than three months before his trial started. This was late 2002 to early 2003. Imagine that nonsense! The name of that witness is Andrew Olofu who was the security guard to Bola Ige on the night of the murder. I also personally spoke with Andrew Olofu, together with two other journalists who were arrested along with me in March 2002. If you recall very well, I was arrested for alleged perjury along with two other journalists in a bid by the Police and their collaborators to divert attention away from the real issues.
Andrew Olofu was also arrested during that period. We were all detained at Force Headquarters in Abuja. So Andrew Olofu had enough time to tell us what he witnessed during the murder of Bola Ige during our detention in Abuja and when the Police was conveying all of us by road for almost 14 hours from Abuja back to Lagos. This is not a matter of hearsay. Andrew Olofu spoke to me directly and the two other journalists who are still alive today. It was after this young boy was handed over to Omisore to cater for during his detention at Alagbon Close that this boy changed his mind and his statement. The boy came to court and said he could not remember anything again. The family of Ige pinned so much hope on this boy. But after his volte face in court, Justice Atinuke Ige (Bola Ige’s wife) died that night. She could not take it any longer.
A week before the murder of Bola Ige, it was Omisore’s younger brother together with Olugbenga Adebayo (aka Fryo) who were instructed by Iyiola Omisore to assault Bola Ige at the palace of the Ooni of Ife. And this they actually did, in the full glare of the public when they forcefully removed his glasses and his cap, before he was rescued by his security details. Shortly after, Omisore granted interviews to the press, boasting that it was the last time Bola Ige will step into Ife again. And it turned out to be so.
Many people may want to believe his claim because your younger brother, Lucky, actually added a twist to the whole case by claiming that you made up those allegations.
That is very laughable. That plot to use my poor kid brother against me collapsed like a pack of cards. Nigerians even laughed at the whole plot, it was too cheap. My kid brother later expressed his regret publicly when Omisore later stopped funding him and paying his house rent. He granted an interview to PM News in 2007 regretting his actions and went on air in 2008 to ask Nigerians to beg me to forgive me. I have since done that. So Omisore is flogging a dead horse.
Omisore specifically alleged that those people who master-minded Ige’s death must have been those who roped him in so that the real culprits could escape. This is a weighty allegation. What is your reaction to this?
So who are these people who roped him in? Was it the same people who told him to order the assault of Ige? Nigerians must ask Omisore and the PDP led government in 2003 that amongst all the prominent sons and daughters of Osun State, why was he, a murder suspect at the time who was remanded in prison custody and awaiting trial for murder, why was he given a senatorial ticket over and above all others who had no moral burden hanging around their shoulders? If those who gave him the senatorial ticket were not anxious to compensate or placate him for something he did for them, then they should tell Nigerians why they gave him the ticket. Omisore should realise that there are three types of judgments: the judgment of man, the judgment of the law court and the judgment of God. If you think you are smart, you can escape the first two but you cannot escape the judgment of God.
That was 12 years ago. Then, you were much younger, both as a man and lawyer. There were insinuations that your driving force was the desire to be known and perhaps to serve as a launch pad for the achievement of your desire to be SAN. How would you react to this?
It is the height of ignorance and stupidity for anyone to think that it is when you are well known that you become a SAN. It is the amount of work put into the legal profession and not popularity that makes a lawyer a SAN. So those who floated that idea at that time, some years ago, should look for another reason because that one is too lame.
Looking back at the Ige murder case, were there things you would have handled differently, particularly, concerning the twists that characterised the case?
I don’t regret every step I took to unravel the truth. There is only one thing I should have done more in addition to all I did: just as I documented the confessions of Fryo by affidavit, by audio, by video and by his own hand writing, I should have also done the same with Andrew Olofu so that Nigerians would have seen and heard by themselves the naked truth as to what happened on the night Ige was killed.
In your view, will Ige killers be found
My simple answer to that is that when the killers are looking for the killers, then the killers will never be found. But one day, when the killers are no longer in control of the agencies in charge of investigations, then the killers may be found. I rest my case.