At noon on Sunday 19 October 1986, Nigerian investigative journalist Dele Giwa was killed by a letter bomb. The charismatic scribe and founding editor of Newswatch magazine was assassinated in his Lagos home. Obfuscation and conspiracy still surrounds Giwa’s death. Needless to say, justice has yet to be found but more than 30 years on, resolute voices remain in calling for the case to re-opened.
“I dare say that all the many problems and abnormalities of present day Nigeria are the consequence of un-redressed injustice of yesteryears, Giwa’s own, inclusive,” writes Dele Ojogbede, a Lagos-based lawyer. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based press freedom advocate, would likely agree with Ojodbede’s assessment. In 2015, Nigeria was awarded a place on CPJ’s unflattering Impunity Index, which lists nations that fail to bring the killers of journalists to justice.
With the 30-year commemoration of Giwa’s ruthless murder in mind, it seems an appropriate time to take the pulse of free speech in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s second largest economy after South Africa.
To assist me in this, I approached Tade Ipadeola, an award winning Nigerian poet who, for good measure, is also a lawyer and president of the PEN Nigeria Centre.
“Despite the passage of time, the evolution of new media channels, and an increase in the number of professional and amateur reporters, freedom of expression is still under siege in Nigeria,” says Ipadeola, winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013 for his collection of poetry, The Sahara Testaments.