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Nigerian Justice Minister Mourned

December 25, 2001

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IBADAN, Nigeria (AP) _ As police helicopters whirled overhead and army troops patrolled the ground, Nigeria’s president paid respects Tuesday to the grieving family of the country’s slain justice minister.

President Olusegun Obasanjo and members of his Cabinet flew from the capital, Abuja, to the main airport in the southwestern city of Ibadan to visit the home of Justice Minister Bola Ige.

Ige was shot and killed after four gunmen burst into his house on Sunday evening.

Obasanjo’s aides described the visit as a ``private courtesy call to pay respects to the bereaved.″

The Nigerian president earlier held talks with the feuding governor and deputy-governor of southwestern Osun State.

Last week, an Osun state legislator, Odunayo Olagbaju, was bludgeoned to death outside his home in the city of Ife, provoking riots in the city. Five people were reported killed. Olagbaju had been a supporter of Osun Deputy Gov. Iyiola Omisore.

A few days before Olagbaju’s killing, Ige reportedly escaped a mob attack in Ife in which his hat was knocked off and his glasses broken. Ige is widely regarded as one of the main backers of Osun State Gov. Bamidele Adebisi Akande.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed Monday in Osun State remained in affect on Tuesday. Soldiers manned roadblocks and patrolled cities and towns.

Ige, 71, who was also the country’s attorney general, was one of the most outspoken campaigners for democracy. He was also the founder of one of Nigeria’s three currently registered political parties, the Alliance for Democracy.

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