by SaharaReporters, New York
Wale Adedayo, a former Chief Press Secretary to ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel has given an unusual insight into political killings in Nigeria. He made these confessions to the Ogun State Truth Commission yesterday in an account in which he suggested that the 2006 assassination of Lagos governorship candidate, Engr. Funso Williams, was done by outsiders.
In a report by Sahara Reporters, Adedayo spoke about intricacies in the use of violence that involves top government officials and complicit security agencies, saying that government often contracts out [killing] jobs ‘in the larger public interest.’
He told the panel, “A person could be chalked down under the table if those at the highest level of government feel his/her continued life could constitute a greater danger to general public good. We had a situation like that during the first term of Daniel. It was a very difficult decision, but it was taken and carried out nevertheless as it also involved a move to pacify the police.” It was not immediately clear what person or persons were thus eliminated in “in the public interest,” and to make the police happy.
Adedayo described violence as the “choice weapon of persuasion for political leaders who either cannot tolerate dissent or do not have the right facts to persuade the electorate to follow their side of the political divide.” He noted further that violence is almost standard practice” in most young democracies all over the world, including Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Of the Commission’s task, to uncover the identities of persons or groups behind the series of orchestrated violence that took place in Ogun State between 2003 and 29, May 2011 and recommend appropriate sanctions, he bluntly told the commission it would not succeed. “Personally, but with due respect, I do not believe you can achieve this,” he said.
Adedayo characterized Nigeria as “a young democracy where might is right, Big Men reign supreme and impunity by the ‘connected’ is the way of life instead of the due process of the law.”
He also described corruption as a way of life in which those who operate outside it are regarded as lunatics or frustrated persons. Corruption, he said, has “made a mess” of the lives of key institutions of democracy, and weakened those important pillars to such an extent that the polity is only a shade different from what obtained under a military dispensation.
Adedayo said he wrote “Micro-seconds away from death,” to record “what happened to me” on the night of 10 January 2009 in Ilishan, Remo, Ogun State, the night in which he killed three gunmen. It is because of that book that the commission summoned him to appear before it.
He provided an engaging account of the way that violence works in the twilight zone between purveyors of violence and the security agencies, even as he praised some members of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) a few months before the incident happened, and shortly after the attack, “in particular the support offered in my ‘private investigation’ to uncover the identities of the three gunmen I killed that night in Ilishan.”
Despite that, Mr. Adedayo pointed out that law enforcement agents hardly prosecute cases involving political violence in Nigeria, especially when the culprits are supporters of a ruling party. “An opposition party going out to campaign will have itself to blame if it does not prepare adequately to counter the forces of the other side during a campaign or other such outside engagements that have to do with politics,” he said.
Describing two kinds of violence, he provided a chilling account of the first, “For instance, boys in the entourage of Alliance for Democracy (AD) gubernatorial candidate and Africa Today’s magazine Publisher, Mr. Kayode Soyinka, killed a young resident of Ogere, Ikenne Local Government, Mr. Segun Adekoya, towards the 2007 elections; a supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ilugun area of Abeokuta North Local Government, Mr. Muyideen Oke, was killed by boys belonging to Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); five supporters of Amosun’s ANPP were also butchered by boys belonging to the PDP in the Car Wash area of Adatan, Abeokuta towards the 2007 elections. If you ask the man who regularly administered ritual oaths to those who the former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, wants to get to his side, Apena Akeem in Ososa, Odogbolu Local Government, he’ll tell you that elements in the employ of Amosun’s ANPP ransacked his house and surrounding buildings towards the 2007 elections. As Director of Organisation, PDP Ogun State, at the time, it took me about 30 minutes instead of the normal two minutes rapid response time before we could get our boys from Ijebu Ode to counter the attack because of the scale of attack by the rampaging ANPP boys. Unfortunately, the ANPP boys were already in Omu, where they vandalized the campaign secretariat of Hon. Remmy Hassan before our boys chased them back towards the Shagamu/Benin Expressway. Of course, being the party in power with loads of patronage at its disposal, the PDP almost always had the upper hand in many of these encounters.”
Of the second category, he described a subterranean violence machinery he called a “special breed, with a number of them sometimes belonging to the country’s security services,” which may explain why political assassinations have remained unsolvable.
“These elements, where needed, are necessary for pre-emptive strike or revenge against real and perceived political enemies – and, this too, is not limited to Ogun State or a particular political party,” he told members of the Commission. “But unless you see them in action, or one is privileged to be an associate of those involved, it is hardly possible to identify these actors or the political party/individual they work for.”
Mr. Adedayo, who twice in his statement told the Commission it would not succeed in its assignment, seemed determined to maintain his extensive knowledge of the network of political killers and killing machines in and around the state. “Whether in camera or publicly here, I will not disclose the identities of those I know besides what I’ve already given to the police through the Force CID, Abuja in March/April 2009,” he said.
He pleaded with the panel to keep confidential his previous statements it may obtain. “You’ll find some names, phone numbers and details that can assist you to some extent. My level of involvement was such that apart from Daniel, others are out there who you cannot protect me from. My firm word to them is that beyond information such as what I have given thus far, in my book and also to the police, I will not squeal on them.”
He advised the panel to begin its enquiries from the SSS in Abeokuta before involving the police, saying there was nothing that took place in Ogun, including details of the personalities involved, that the SSS does not have.
Adedayo then provided the final rider: “Since virtually all decisions about our law enforcement agencies have to be taken at a political level, it is clear where the work of this Commission is headed,” he said.