Olu Agunloye, a former Minister of Power and Steel says most Nigerians are waiting for justice to unravel those behind the death of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Bola Ige.
Speaking at the Bola Ige annual memorial symposium on Tuesday, Agunloye noted that impunity reigns where there is no justice.
Ige served first as Minister of Power and later as Minister of Justice under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who governed Nigeria between 1999 and 2007.
He was murdered in December 2001 in his home in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital.
Agunloye said the deceased fought for peace and justice as a student activist, lawyer, commissioner, governor and minister.
He said, “Uncle Bola’s greatest legacy was that he believed he had a duty to mentoring the next generations. This was a man who as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation had as main the issue of public justice. Notably, he embarked on the programme for the reform of the Laws of the Federation, which led to the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1999 (LFN1999) published in digital form and could be instantly available to the public and practitioners at virtually no costs; he mentored and got external funds for the reform of the 1999 Constitution and led the “resource control” struggle for the offshore oil of the coastal oil-producing states to justice from the Federal Government.
“Indeed, he was a man who fought for peace and justice as a student activist, lawyer, Commissioner, Governor, Minister of the Federal Republic and Honourable Attorney General of the Federation.
“As we celebrate the man who loved us with passionate commitment, let us get some basic aspects clear. First is that Bola Ige did not kill himself. He met his killer face to face and he dealt him a fatal single shot aimed at his heart. Therefore, someone or some people assassinated him. God caught them in the act and God knows them but the majority of us are waiting for justice while some of them are perhaps believing that they have got away.
“Second, the man who fired the shot did not act alone. He was part of a thoroughly well planned Knitted Conspiracy Network which comprised of those who cleared the way, those who subdued the household including a Judge of the Appeal Court of Justice, those who provide covers and those who pervert the laws to prevent justice.
“Third, the killing of Uncle Bola was brutal, senseless and barbaric, hurting and hurtful. But it should not be misconstrued as the injustice. It is only a sign, a signature, a symbol and a symptom of bad governance, corruption and failure in the polity.
“Fourthly, the Irony of it all is that a Minister of Justice, who was at the same time, husband of a serving Judge of the Court of Appeal of Nigeria was served with raw injustice in his house and in the presence of his household including his wife, children and grandchildren and for twenty years justice has not been done.
“The fingers of the other hand. The above shows why we must seek to identify injustice anywhere and fight it. Injustice is discrimination, abuse and mistreatment racial treatment, poverty, environmental degradation; it is something that is not fair or just; for instance, when an innocent person is dismissed from employment for an offence he did not commit; when the welfare and well-being of people are constrained on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances or when inequality is borne out of unjust rules, conditions or environment.
“Injustice is the denial of access to wealth, education, employment and resources as well as social, economic and political relationships amongst the people making a few becoming greatly privileged with access to wealth, resources and power while the less privileged become more greatly underdeveloped. Under this imbalance, the few privileged people compulsively take to corruption to accumulate more wealth, resources and power in an unjust manner to maintain the unjust socio-economic and political systems, and unfortunately, the poorer and less privileged ones also imbibe tendencies to leverage on corruption as a means of acquiring wealth, resources and power to level up.
“In a nutshell, injustice creates inequality and imbalance which favour a few people who then employ corruption as a tool to maintain the imbalance while the exploited people also look forward to the same corruption tool to leverage a leveller and take them out of poverty enclave and thus creating an all-pervasive corruption environment.
“If Uncle Bola were alive, he would send another stern warning that injustice, corruption, insecurity, disorder and anarchy are now the five fingers of the other leprous hand. This is because in the twenty years after Uncle Bola’s assassination, unending injustice has become great threat to human security which virtually derailed economic security, food security, personal security, community security, and political security and created unprecedented corruption, social and economic disorder and emergent anarchy. In the period, Nigeria has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of government no longer function properly.
“The 2021 report on Fragile States Index ranked Nigeria as the 12th most fragile state in the world characterized by weak state capacity or weak state legitimacy leaving citizens vulnerable to Boko Haram, banditry, criminals kidnapping for money and a range of unwarranted dangers capable of undermining or destroying democracy.
“Insecurity has become the face of multiple crises associated with bad governance in Nigeria. There has been an unabating reign of terror and actions of insurrectionists, agitators and outright criminalities which have crippled economic activities, significantly battered peace and the national social architecture. The socio-economic crisis has become pervasive and caused significant damages to the national fabric while the country steadily spirals into full-blown chaos making the slide to anarchy look virtually uncontrollable.”