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Who killed the attorney general? (Nigeria).

The murder of Ajibola James Ige, Nigeria's attorney general and minister for justice, by assassins who violated his Ibadan home on 23 December, has left more questions than answers for the country's bewildered citizens. No acceptable excuse has been given for the absence of his entire security detail -- who left their duty post to have dinner -- when the residence of the country's chief law officer was under attack.

There was no resistance as the killers stormed Ige's house, located in Ibadan's exclusive Bodija district. His assailants ordered his wife, Atinuke, to leave the room before shooting the 71-year-old man in the chest.

Articulate, urbane and forthright, Ige was one of Nigeria's most prominent politicians. Before his death, he had been caught in the crossfire of a deadly political turmoil in Osun State, which had claimed many lives and probably his own.

The Alliance for Democracy (AD) parry, to which Ige belonged, has now been sucked into the long-running feud between the Osun State governor, Bisi Akande, and his deputy, Iyiola Omisore.

Omisore says that he has been systematically undermined by his boss and accuses Akande of reneging on his promise to spend only one term in office. Omisore further alleges that there was an agreement between the two that he would be allowed to get the top job in 2003, but Akande is reneging on the deal.

Omisore accused Bola Ige -- a close political associate of Akande's -- of playing a role in frustracting his gubernatorial ambitions and helping the governor's re-election bid.

Ige was abused and physically attacked by a mob in the town of Ile-Ife before his death. Supporters of Omisore in the mob snatched Ige's spectacles and traditional cap as they berated him for supporting Akande to the detriment of Omisore.

The shameful incident occurred as Ige was departing from the palace of Oba Sijuwade, the "Ooni" or King -- of Ife, the pre-eminent king of the Yorubas. Ige was attending a chieftaincy award given by the Ooni to President Olusegun Obasanjo's wife, Stella.

His assassination is a tremendous blow to Obasanjo -- they have been friends and confidants over 20 years. Obasanjo appointed him as the country's chief law officer despite opposition from members of his own People's Democratic Party (PDP), who objected to the presence of an AD politician in such a strategic position.

While in office, Ige came under fire from the country's southern states, for his decision to launch a legal battle on behalf of the Federal Government over the control of their terrestrial and littoral resources. And from the northern states, for his staunch opposition to the illegal introduction of Sharia Law.

Not known for their efficiency at the best of times, the Nigerian police moved swiftly after the assassination. Several people were arrested in Lagos, and a 28-year-old man turned himself in, confessing that he was promised N 1,000,000 (about [pounds sterling]6,000) for his involvement in the despicable act.

"It has been a very difficult time for me and the family. My father was our backbone", Muyiwa Ige, the late attorney general's son, told New African. "My father was my best friend and confidant. I don't know how we are going to cope. He was loved and admired by so many people."

Muyiwa said President Obasanjo had assured the family that everything would be done to bring the murderers to book. "The police are carrying out their enquiries and I think it is best to leave it to the professionals for now," Muyiwa added. "If there is any cause to change our minds on this issue, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

But until the real killers of Ige are apprehended, a dark shadow will continue to hang over the Nigerian political landscape.
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Article Details
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Author:Obayiuwana, Osasu
Publication:New African
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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