Intelligence Chiefs Questioned Slain Editor
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ National security and military intelligence officials say they questioned a leading editor several times during the week before he was killed, but denied any role in his death, newspapers said Tuesday.
Authorities vowed to find the killers of Dele Giwa, 39, victim of a letter bomb delivered to his home Sunday in Lagos. Prince Tony Momoh, minister of information, said police were making progress. No arrests were reported.
Ray Ekpu, deputy editor of Newswatch magazine, said senior officials of the State Security Service and the director of military intelligence had questioned Giwa.
Ekpu, in a statement published in several newspapers, said security agents alleged Giwa was plotting to destablize the military government of President Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Giwa was accused of ″holding talks with some people on the possibility of importing arms into Nigeria,″ Ekpu said.
Ekpu told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Giwa also was questioned about contacts with student leaders and union officials following demonstrations sparked by the fatal shooting of four students in May.
Ekpu said Giwa had complained to his lawyer, who had approached the minister of information. Momoh told reporters he had raised Giwa’s case with top military leaders, who had promised to intervene.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Giwa’s lawyer, was quoted by The Punch newspaper as saying: ″The scientific sophistication of the (letter bomb) explosion could only come from the government. I am holding the federal government responsible for Dele Giwa’s death.″
Col. Halidu Akilu, director of military intelligence, told reporters Giwa had been cleared of any wrongdoing and was told the inquiry was being dropped.
Ekpu said Giwa had called Akilu and said he was pressing a complaint against authorties through his lawyer. ″The officer said it wasn’t a matter for lawyers because it had been settled.″
Ekpu said the letter bomb, delivered by a motorcyclist, apparently arrived 45 minutes after Giwa’s conversation with Akilu.
Babaginda said Tuesday in a statement: ″In the last decade or so, Dele, along with a new generation of journalists, succeeded in raising the level of journalism in Nigeria to world standards. I wish to acknowledge publicly the worthy contributions which Dele has made, not only to the profession of journalism, but also to the formulation of public policy in our country.″
Momoh said after an emergency meeting Monday at military headquarters at Dodon Barracks in Lagos: ″The government has also assured Nigerians and the media that it is fully committed in word and in deed to building a society where freedom of thought and expression hold sway.″
Nigeria’s security services, formerly known as the National Security Organization, was split into three agencies after Babangida seized power on Aug. 27, 1985.
Babangida accused the National Security Organization of widespread violations of civil liberties. His government has repeatedly pledged to preserve human rights, and most people detained by the previous military government have been released.