THE judge who handled the celebrated Ejigbadero case in the 1970s has finally broken his silence on the case.
Justice Isiaka Ishola Oluwa who clocked 100 years old spoke on the case in his recently released autobiography titled: ‘A Life in Motion Reminiscence of a Jurist at 100 years’.
Justice Oluwa said he believed the celebrated murder case influenced the enactment of the Land Use Decree (now known as Land Use Act) by the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Justice Oluwa’s account of the case as contained in the book is as follows:
“As a judge, many controversial cases were brought before me that made headlines in the newspapers. One of such cases was the criminal case of Ejigbadero. I was assigned the Ejigbadero case by the Honourable Chief Justice of Lagos State in 1975. The case attracted a lot of public interest because it involved a well-known socialite, one Jimoh Ishola who was the executive chairman of Jimsol Nigeria Ltd, a nail manufacturing company in Lagos. Ishola was better known by his alias, Ejigbadero. He had his factory at the Matori Industrial Estate, and lived in Mushin with his large family, including his four wives. Apart from being an industrialist, Ejigbadero was a well-known land speculator and property dealer. What brought him to my court was a case of murder when he was accused of killing one Raji Oba.
“As a judge, one must remain impartial about every case and not allow public sentiments to affect one’s judgement. Evidence must be presented and witnesses must be led to support or disprove every evidence. I would like to dwell more on the Ejigbadero case, which I believe generated a lot of public interest and in the long run, had more impact on the policy formulation of land matters both at the Federal level and at the State level.
“The Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution led the prosecution and built an impregnable fortress of evidence against Ejigbadero. Sometime in 1974, Ejigbadero had gone to Alimosho village on the outskirt of Lagos, to clear a piece of land which he claimed he had bought. He was challenged by some of the villagers who disputed Ejigbadero’s claim to ownership.
“The land which Ejigbadero decided to clear for a new building construction, contained cocoa, kolanut and some other cash crops. The villagers accused Ejigbadero of an attempt to seize their land illegally. Ejigbadero had come to the land with some boys alleged by the villagers to be thugs. Ejigbadero claimed they were his workers. When the villagers did not allow them to work, Ejigbadero retreated after the first encounter. He returned several times thereafter and this led to clashes during which some of the villagers, including Raji Oba, were wounded. The police at Alimosho intervened and tried to bring peace but to no avail. No one was charged to court at that stage and the police also did not make any arrest.
“On August 22, 1975, Raji Oba was relaxing in front of his house at Alimosho. It was around 7.30 p.m. as his wife hurried in. She said she had seen Ejigbadero in the neighbourhood and warned her husband that he may have come again to cause trouble. The husband agreed with his wife, saying he suspected that Ejigbadero may have come to bury charms on the farm, an all too familiar occurrences in disputes over land owernership in Yorubaland. It was at this point that a gunshot shattered the stillness of the night. Raji Oba fell. His wife, Sabitu Oba, was later to give evidence that she saw Ejigbadero fleeing from the scene of the crime in the company of six other persons. Raji Oba was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“Later that night on August 22, policemen arrested Ejigbadero in his Mushin residence. He was in the middle of a family celebration. Ramota, his young wife, who was delivered of a baby eight days earlier, was having a lavish naming ceremony with its attendant lavish party worthy of a big socialite of Ejigbadero’s social status. The party was attended by many top Nigerians including lawyers, judges, policemen, businessmen and women, socialites, top military officers and public servants. That was his alibi before the court. On the day of Raji Oba’s murder, Ejigbadero claimed he was far from the scene, attending to guests at his baby’s naming ceremony.
“Evidence presented to court was convincing enough, including that of policemen who saw Ejigbadero at Alimosho on the night of the murder. Some other villagers also gave evidence insisting that Ejigbadero came to Alimosho that night in the company of others in a Peugeot 504 station wagon. One Kehinde, one of the prosecution witnesses, gave evidence before the court. He said he was a security guard at Ejigbadero’s factory premises at Matori. He said on the night of the murder, the accused took time off from his naming ceremony, to visit the factory in the company of six other persons who were well-known to Kehinde. He named the six of them. He said they left from the factory premises in a white Peugeot 504 station wagon and returned in the night around 9p.m.
“The defence, led in evidence by Chief Sobo Sowemimo, made great effort to cast doubt on the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. They also called witnesses to support their alibi that Ejigbadero never left his naming ceremony on that day. They called witnesses but not one of them was with Ejigbadero throughout the day. From the evidence presented before me, I had no doubt in arriving at my verdict that Ejigbadero was our man and that he committed the cold-blooded murder. He was guilty and sentenced to death.
“He appealed my judgement, but the Federal Court of Appeal in 1977 affirmed the judgement. The appeal was heard by Their Lordships Mamman Nasir, Adetunji Ogunkeye and Ijoma Aseme. Dissatistfied, Ejigbadero moved to the Supreme Court and a panel of Their Lordships Alexander, Fatai-Willimans, Irikefe, Bello and Idigbe, affirmed my judgement. The death sentence on Ejigbadero was carried out in 1979.
“The Ejigbadero case was sensational and became of national interest. It highlighted the human aspect of the chaotic land laws in Nigeria, especially in Lagos and its environs and its attendant capacity to disrupt and even destroy the lives of ordinary people. By the time the case came before my court, Nigeria was undergoing tremendous changes. The regime of General Yakubu Gowon, which came into power in 1966, had been toppled and replaced by another military regime headed by General Murtala Muhammed. When Muhammed was killed in the abortive coup of February 13, 1976, he was replaced by General Olusegun Obasanjo.
“I believed General Obasanjo or those close to him were interested in the Ejigbadero case. In 1978, the Obasanjo regime came out with the Land Use Decree which tried to streamline the issue of land ownership in Nigeria. Though it was a one blanket solution for the whole country, the decree is especially useful in Lagos for it gives full discretion to state governors on the issue of land. It also vested the ownership of all land in the state in the governor who can decide to acquire any land for the public interest.
“In the subsequent years, the decree has been replaced with the Land Use Act, but its essential features remained intact. In the past few years and especially since 2016, various state governments have attempted to address the issue of indiscriminate land-grabbing. Both the Ogun and the Lagos State governments have passed laws to prohibit seizure of land by force.”
Abacha loot: Mai Gaskiya, can you see your world in the open? | By Festus Adedayo
Profound apologies that I chose to do a literal translation of Yoruba into English in the above headline. Can you see your world in the open is a direct translation of the Yoruba se o r’aye e l’ode? It’s deployed at a moment of extreme let-down, incomparable frustration, an intersection where a misdemeanor has absolutely ridiculed and discredited the person in question.
The heist of the late General Sani Abacha, stashed away in different countries of the world, that are coming in droves back to the country, is my subject.
This was a heist which the self-same Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently denied as non-existent, literally beatifying his late benefactor, Sani Abacha, as above board.
Excluding tranches of the loot recently returned to Nigeria, the countryside’s has, in the past 18 years, recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) of her treasury looted by Abacha. While the United States Embassy in Nigeria recently announced the sum of $319m (N121bn) loot repatriated from the United Kingdom and France and handed back to Nigeria, this repatriated fund was different from one of about a week ago where the sum of $311 million Abacha loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey were also funneled back into the country.
In a statement last week, the embassy said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”
At every point of the looted funds’ repatriation to Nigeria, these countries where the looted funds were earlier domiciled diplomatically but unambiguously made it known that they do not trust Nigerian leaders not to re-loot the looted funds. In fact, their trenchant shouts while returning the funds are revelatory of their disposition.
The one of February, 2020 even came with the caveat and a tripartite agreement signed by Nigeria with the US government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that upon the return of the money, it would be spent on specific infrastructure projects, to wit the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.
At another point, there were frenetic moves by the US and United Kingdom governments against the plan of the Nigerian government to gift Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who was alleged to be an enabler and accomplice of the laundered money, the sum of $110 million out of the recovered funds.
Recently too, a warning came from the United States Justice Department that, should Nigeria fail to spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects, she would refund the money.
I don’t know if you know that these veiled threats didn’t come without an underlining perception or intelligence reports about our government’s disposition to public funds in its care. Nigerian governments, the so-called Mai Gaskiya’s inclusive, are known to the globe to be rapaciously corrupt, adding to this corruption medal another medallion of shamelessness. The way the globe polices monies that are Nigeria’s but stolen by a Nigerian despot of incomparable filching mentality, is embarrassingly unprecedented. Can Mai Gaskiya see his world in the open is the most fitting epithet to describe this shamelessness
COVID-19: Time to go Madagascar | By Festus Adedayo
Like many other societies in the world, Africa boasts of a past that is ambivalent, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. She had villains, despots, tyrants, developmental leaders and all sorts as rulers. As she had a ruthless hero in leader of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, better known as Shaka the Zulu, who reigned from 1816 to 1828, so also did Africa have 16th century notorious Basorun Gaa of the old Oyo Empire Army (Oyo Ile).
In modern time, Africa had Ugandan Joseph Rao Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerilla group. Kony was queer and weird. He proclaimed to the world that he was the spokesperson of God on earth and the spirit medium through which He could be reached. He also claimed that he was always host to thirteen multinational spirits that included a Chinese phantom.
He led a syncretic mix that included the usage of Christian fundamentalism, mysticism, Acholi nationalism and claimed that he was establishing a theocratic state, based on the Ten Commandments. He was subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the abduction of 66,000 children who were turned into child soldiers, as well as sex slaves and causing the internal displacement of two million people from 1986 to 2009.
This is not to talk of the Alaafin of old Oyo who ordered the head of his father-in-law brought on a platter because, while helping to scrub his back in the bathroom, his new wife had jokingly teased his limp manhood thus: “Kabiyesi, so you are this small, yet the whole world is afraid of you!”
Pre-colonial Africa was equally very rich. Egyptian civilization, for instance, has been held to be a major gladsome past of Africa, even from prehistoric times. Agricultural irrigation method that flourished in the deployment of the Nile for agricultural purposes, as well as Egyptian architecture are major sources of study in strides of prehistory. This is not to talk of Egyptian science of embalmment.
This method gained wide mention in its unique system of preserving the dead called mummification so as to achieve some measure of immortality, even in death. Deploying herbs and locally sourced chemicals, Egyptian native doctors dispossessed dead bodies of all moisture, leaving dried flesh that could not decay. With this, many Pharaohs were preserved for centuries and archaeologists claim to have excavated centuries-old bodies preserved with leaves and still effusing scents of embalmment.
On a visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, some years ago, he told me of two scientific strides bequeathed by his forefathers. One was that of a fascinating palace environmental science wizardry. According to the Alaafin, no matter how heavy a downpour was in the palace, within a few minutes, you can never find its trace in the palace.
There is an inscrutable and undecipherable flood control network in the palace which ensures that it can never be flooded. The palace is centuries old. The second, as told me by the Alaafin, is an African DNA system in the palace which enables an Alaafin to identify whether children born to the palace were genuinely of the monarchy. The third, as related by the revered monarch, is a potent local cure for cancer of the prostrate. The Alaafin told me that if local traditional doctors treat such a patient of prostrate, he will, in Alaafin’s words, “die with prostrate but never of it.”
There is no doubt that African medicine was potent and was efficient for centuries in treating sicknesses like cancer, diabetes, malaria, stroke, epilepsy, benign prostatic herperplasia, gout and all manner of ailments. Traditional African medicine involves indigenous herbalism that is many times mixed with African spirituality.
Its own doctors were known as diviners, herbalists and midwives. They are reputed to have cured complex ailments, even psychiatric disorders. I was a living witness to a then three-year old boy who was, seventeen years ago, treated for asthma. The local traditional doctor never came in contact with his patient. He merely asked for the presentation of this ailment which had taken the child’s parents to different orthodox hospitals without any remedy, handed them two bottles of herbal potion and in the last seventeen years, the parents have reported no manifestation of the sickness. To the best of my knowledge, Western medicine has no cure yet for asthma.
The recent altercation over the claimed remedy to the raging COVID-19 pandemic by the government of Madagascar was what propelled the above narratives. Madagascar, which is officially known as the Republic of Madagascar, but which before now was known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island.
A country in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is said to be approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. It is reputed to be the world’s second largest island country. As is known with all island countries, the desire for survival usually forces them to take initiatives about their existence.
So when Madagascar was said to have thought out of the box, not tying its fate to the fate of a world that is hopelessly bayoneted by a tiny microscopic virus which had to date killed over 200,000 people, to those who know the initiative-driven existence of island countries, they weren’t taken aback by the Madagascar innovation.
When the country launched Covid-Organics (CVO) which is reportedly effective in the treatment of this strange disease, it naturally raised some dusts, especially from the World Health Organization (WHO). Since the virus cast a spell on the world, killing global compatriots like chickens, Madagascar is yet to record any death, even when it had 193 cases.
This stride has confounded the world, especially many African countries who are said to be seeking Madagascar’s intervention. Explaining how the country got to this ennobling cusp, Marcel Razanamparany, who is the President of the Academy of Medicine in Uganda, said it was an initiative of the work of Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) researchers, who he said had conducted clinical study into herbs in the quest for a connect between modern and traditional medicine.
In the process of seeking cure for the coronavirus, Madagascar was reported to have made use of its biodiversity by embarking on a therapy protocol that uses an admixture of chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, as well as deployment of medicinal plants. IMRA and the National Pharmacology Research Centre of Madagascar were said to have depended heavily on the usage of artemisia plants hitherto renowned for the cure of malaria.
Indeed, Madagascar, since 1975, was said to have begun researches into the potency of this artemisia annua, a research said to have been pioneered by a Professor Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga. The result is that today, even when WHO is ululating over this splendid outcome, the world is giving thumbs up to Madagascar and the country is able to rescue her citizens from the pangs of coronavirus. Since then, the road to Madagascar has become the path to tread.
Madagascar has since introduced the native-brewed but effective medicine it christened COVID Organics to Guinea Conakry, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, with Tanzania about to place its order. Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has also indicated that Nigeria might also follow suit.
WHO’s reaction to the Madagascar road that has become the path to tread, was predictable. In a statement, it warned against the use of traditional herbs by African governments, saying that as “efforts are underway to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies.”
No one should need to tell Africans that even though colonialism ended some decades ago, neocolonialism is still ravaging Africa. While it is true, as propounded by Italian Antonio Gramsci, that physical coercion as a system of control of man had died a natural death, control of the mind of the African has hugely deputized for physical force. And because African leaders are a bunch of simpletons who have no minds of their own, they are easy recruits into the war to enslave the minds of their people.
Their poverty of materials and lack of the mind have ensured that they are appendages to the west. In spite of his penchant for thieving the resources of his people, Sani Abacha was about the only Nigerian leader who called the bluff of the west and who can be compared to Andry Nirina Rajoelina, current Madagascar president. The ones before and after him appear to be mere agents of the colonizers.
If not, a government that has a mind of its own shouldn’t be deterred by the threats of the west, especially in the quest to rescue its own people from the pangs of a global pandemic. It is apparent that finding cure to a global ailment by any common African country is an effrontery, indeed insolence by Africa against her masters. How could those black niggers who cannot fend for themselves without the help of their white slavers, be the ones to find medical rescue to the problems of the world and end a superior white race’s medical agony?
That would surely be racial impudence. To worsen matters, what that also means is that shipment of cash from all the nooks and crannies of a world that is in search of stoppage to this colossal death, would go to Africa. Absolutely nauseating!
If the Nigerian government encourages traditional medicine practitioners and departments of botany of different universities to find cure to COVID-19, I am sure remedies could be found to this fiery disease and we would jump up in the estimation of the world. Yes, traditional medicine practice has been infiltrated by mediocrities, charlatans and fraudsters, but there is still a tiny window inhabited by genuine traditional practitioners. Gladsome is the news that the Federal Government, through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mashi Abdullahi, has directed the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to carry out necessary procedures to assess plant-based cough mixture as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Government should go a notch higher. All efforts must be made for Nigeria to follow this laudable road to Madagascar. It is a road that leads to self-sufficiency and homegrown solutions to continental and international malaises.
COVID -19: Time to diversify Ngeria’s economy | By Abba Dukawa
Following the collapse of crude oil prices from 2014 to date , which triggered unpleasant memories to Nigerian government which found itself in unchartered waters. Since then Nigeria continues to struggle to revive the economy amidst dwindling oil revenues compounded by unemployment, poverty and insecurity all due to over dependant on one major government revenue, the country remains weak and fragile -being outstripped by population growth.
Who is to be blamed for this mess ? Provocative policy of the Nigerian government is the dependence on oil resources as a source of foreign exchange earnings to the detriment of agriculture despite the fact that the country is blessed with untapped mineral resources. With outbreak of the coronavirus, which has puts global economy in uncertainty again, Nigeria’s economy is being caught in the cross-hairs.
Nigeria the so called Africa’s largest economy cannot currently fund its budget due to Covid – 19 because the budget passed with a benchmark oil price of $57 per barrel—nearly double its current price of around $28, knowing fully well that the government relies heavily on petrodollars. It is now unarguably, the collapse of oil prices not only pose a strategic danger to the global economy but it has been danger to Nigeria’s economy development and also a catalyst behind national domestic predicaments.
Absolutely there is lack of foresight from our leaders for not save as much as possible especially when the crude oil price reached its peak but Nigeria Forex reserve is about $37billion and can finance 4months of imports max. Even before Covid -19 pandemic Saudi threw OPEC members under the bus because Russia refuses to cut production to prop price up.
Saudi flooded the market and offered discount to buyers. Russia refused production costs because it thinks; cuts empower Shale producers in America. Now Nigeria have about more than 50cargoes of oil floating on international waters without buyers. A cargo contains about 2 million barrels of oil.
Now Nigeria is facing severe challenges. Oil price volatility is accentuated by rising commodity prices, possibly the devaluation of the naira against the U.S. dollar. It s time for economy diversification.
Regards to diversification of the economy there is need for Federal government to develop the country untapped minerals. Despite this huge opportunity still domestic mining industry is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produced domestically. With recent economy woes federal government should, as a matter of fact shift from mono economic policy to ensure that non-oil sector growth has translated to improvements in government revenue.
Had it been that past and present leadership prioritise other non oil sectors with the way the nation’s telecommunications sector liberalize definetly the country economy will improve because there is no state in Nigeria with less than 10 untapped different mineral resources.
Had it been that they did the needful for long the country will set itself free unless federal government develop the country untapped mineral industry, modernise the agricultural sector and develop the tourism industry. Just from iron ore , expert says Federal Government can make $280 billion from the mineral annually more than what the country earned from crude oil.
According to 2018 report of geology and mineral resources of Nigeria estimated Nigeria’s iron ore deposit to reach three billion tonnes, coal, three billion tonnes while lead and zinc are to reach 10 million tonnes each. Federal Government can make a lot of money from mining, if it is exploited and invest into coal, gold, tantalite, and cassiterite to shore up revenue.
Dukawa, a public affairs analyst, writes from Kano
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