In a 2016 article, Bayo Oluwasanmi described Dele Giwa as “a flaming journalist with a fiery message of rebuke” who had a “knack for packaging stories that injected sleeplessness and nightmares in the tyrants of his days”.
On Thursday, October 19, it became 31 years since Giwa, pioneer editor-in-chief of Newswatch, was assassinated.
Giwa was reportedly killed after he received a parcel bomb which detonated at his residence, then located at No. 25 Talabi street, Ikeja, Lagos state.
The journalist who died at 39 was known for exposing corrupt and illegal dealings of the government and this earned him recognition.
The assassination occurred two days after he had been questioned by officials of the State Security Service (SSS).
The Newswatch editor had just written an article on second-tier foreign exchange market (SFEM), a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy introduced at the time.
Under the SFEM policy, the determination of the naira exchange rate and allocation of foreign exchange were based on market forces.
In the piece, Giwa said if SFEM failed, the people would stone “their leaders in the streets”.
Ajibola Kunle Togun, the then deputy director of the SSS, later met with Giwa and said he did not find anything offensive in the story.
But in a different turn of events, Ray Ekpu, a colleague of Giwa, said Togun accused the journalist of planning to publish the “other side” of the story on the circumstances that led to the removal of Ebitu Ukiwe as chief of staff to Ibrahim Babangida, former military head of state.
Giwa was also accused of plotting with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other groups to carry out a “socialist revolution”.
Around the same time, Giwa was quizzed by Halilu Akilu of the directorate of military intelligence (DMI) over an allegation that he had been heard speaking to some people about arms importation.
He appeared at the SSS headquarters on the matter on October 16, 1986 — two days to his assassination.
On October 18, Akilu called Giwa’s home and asked his wife Funmi for directions as he wanted to stop by on his way to Kano.
On the day of the assassination, the DMI official reportedly told Giwa over the telephone that the matter had been resolved after the journalist inquired about his frequent calls.
Not long after the call, a package was delivered to Giwa which severely wounded him. He was with Kayode Soyinka, London bureau chief of Newswatch, who narrowly escaped the blast after he excused himself to visit the restroom.
Giwa was taken to the hospital but later died from the wounds he sustained from the blast. He would have been 70 this year.
Although, Mohammed Buba Marwa, a former military governor of Lagos state, has been accused of being the courier of the bomb, no one has been convicted for Giwa’s murder.