It was on a Sunday morning of October 19, 1986, 31 years ago the news went viral even without social media as we are used to today, that one of the best brains in modern investigative journalism, Dele Giwa, Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine died of a parcel bomb.
This news was extremely difficult to belief. What is letter bomb? How come? How manage? Who could have done this to one of the finest journalists of our time? These are the probing questions on the lips of every right thinking Nigerians during the regime of “evil genius”, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Newswatch’s weekly print run can be as high as 100,000 copies. Newswatch was formed by Nigerian journalists Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed in 1984, and the first edition was distributed on 28 January 1985.
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Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Dele Giwa (1947-1986)
As a student, I rather prefer not to eat than not buying a copy of Newswatch sold for N3.00. It sold like hot cake.
When the news of the death of Dele Giwa filtered around, I wept bitterly. I was wondering if he actually deserved this untimely gruesome death. The manner in which he was killed was first of its kind in Nigeria if not in Africa at the prime age of 39.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a foremost Human Right activist proved to be a good friend as he pursued and tried to prosecute the alleged killers of Dele Giwa at all costs. His pursuit of the case pitched him against the IBB regime in which he was detained at various Nigeria prisons which includes Gashua Prison.
IBB almost succeeded in making him bankrupt when the only option for him was to sell his chamber in Anthony Village in Lagos when the court ruled that he should pay six million naira damages to federal government on his friend’s case.
I could remember, while Gani was in prison all human right activists which includes; Fela, Beko Ransome Kuti, Femi Falana, students and a host of others were at Gani’s Chambers in Anthony in solidarity to raise funds for the six million naira court penalty to prevent him selling his chamber.
While all Dele Giwa’s colleagues at Newswatch disowned Gani in the pursuit of prosecutions of killers of Dele Giwa, Gani did not relent until he died on September 5, Â 2009.
Dele Giwa, the first Editor-in-ChiefÂ of Newswatch magazine was assassinated like a common criminal with mangled body and blood littering the floor.
His death drew the attention of well meaning Nigerians who believes in his style of journalism.
Dele Giwa’s advent into Nigerian journalism brought a dramatic change into the practice of journalism in Nigeria.
His lying-in-state at Ikeja was crowded by eminent personalities which includes the likes of Nkemba of Nnewi, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana, students, market women and others.
The death of Dele Giwa, his short existence in this world was not how far but how well.
Those who killed Dele Giwa had “murdered sleep” so they shall “sleep no more”.