[dropcap]A[/dropcap]bout three weeks ago, I was home in the evening glued to the Cable Network News, CNN, to follow developments around the globe when my phone peeped. By the time I checked, it was a broadcast on one of the whatsApp chat platforms that I belong. Instantly, the caption of the post attracted my attention: ’30 years after, the long awaited confirmation about Dele Giwa’s death’.
As someone who has spent years in the intelligence and law enforcement community, I became inquisitive and wanted to read through the post to see if there are hard facts there. At the end, I was not only disappointed but also equally angry that the post was based on allegations made in an interview by one Dr Taiyemiwo Ogunade some years ago.
An attempt by me to do a background check on the said Ogunade did not only yield volumes about his person but I was able to establish through available materials that he was on a vendetta mission when he granted the interview way back in 2009.
But what manner of bitterness would make a man make two grievous allegations against two eminent Nigerians: respected Professor of Political Economy, Muyibi Amoda and the acclaimed brilliant retired Army General, Buba Marwa, who had distinguished himself in the military and governance.
Ogunade had linked both gentlemen to an alleged $30m grant deal in New York City College and Marwa to the death of celebrated journalist Dele Giwa based on a story he claimed he heard from some soldiers several years. Both Ogunade and Amoda had worked at New York City College but the institution later sacked Ogunade.
Prof Amoda provided the most profound response to Ogunade’s obvious lies and as such will like to quote a portion of that here before drawing conclusions.
According to Prof Amoda, “Ogunade implies that the negotiation between Brig-General Marwa and the City College was mediated by me; that I persuaded the College to receive the grant; but because of his protests, the College fired him and returned the money to Brig-General Marwa.
This aspect of the story I can categorically state as a figment of a pathologically confused imagination. I never met Brigadier-General Marwa at City College or anywhere as the emissary of President Moses. Ogunade asserts that money was received by the College and that presumably would be through me. There was no such giving and receiving of $30million at City College; City College returned no such grant which should have been a grant to the Department of Black Studies of which I was the chair. There was therefore no such $30million, which was returned to Brig-General Marwa; there was no such money, which was not returned to the treasury of the Nigerian Government.
The City College drama in which President Moses, Professor John Moyibi Amoda and Brig-General Marwa featured was an evil invention of Ogunade. No such thing happened under President Yoland T. Moses and during my tenure as the Chair of Black Studies. If Ogunade could create such a story from his imaginings, can anyone doubt that his story about Dele Giwa is no invention?”
The “reappearance of the discredited 2009 interview by Ogunade, in a manner that suggests it as new in December 2016 is worrisome. The “reappearance is clearly a malicious attempt by person(s) to undermine the credibility of the two eminent personalities, assail the psyche of discerning minds and also malign the reputation of well meaning Nigerians.
My take on this is that Professor John Muyibi Amoda and Ambassador Buba Marwa in their separate responses in 2009 and, especially facts on the ground, have in actual sense conspired to expose the falsehoods in Ogunade’s interview. As a Nigerian, this obvious, deliberate and calculated attempt to taint the reputation of fellow citizens bothers me, hence my intervention. These falsehoods are malicious and concerning in equal measure.
Besides, memos published by Prof Amoda also confirm that he exchanged correspondence with Gen Chris Garuba and not Marwa who had by then left as Nigeria’s Defence Attache to the UN.
Place the above side by side with this statement issued by Marwa’s aide in 2009. “It is on record that between 1983 and July 1986, Dr. Marwa was away in Harvard and University of Pittsburg, USA for post-graduate studies. Upon his return to Nigeria, he was posted to take command of the 233 tank battalion, Bauchi in August 1986. That year, the battalion was selected for a test exercise, which is a rigorous military training that took place between August and November 1986.
“So, it is absurd and unimaginable that Ogunade will link Dr. Marwa, who was leading a training exercise for his battalion in far-away Bauchi to the death of Mr. Dele Giwa in Lagos State. This is a callous story and only a character in the mold of Ogunade can peddle this deliberate falsehood.
“Beside his futile attempt to link Dr. Marwa to the death of Dele Giwa, the so-called professor went ahead to narrate how Dr. Marwa signed a $30 million contract with the City University, New York on behalf of the Nigerian government.
“Again, for the benefit of Nigerians, Dr. Marwa has NEVER met Ogunade anywhere neither did he sign any such contract with this college. As such, there was no basis for sharing any money that never existed. This is absolutely a fabrication by a man that has no conscience.”
But Ogunade’s false interview is not simply a botched malicious attack on Amoda and Marwa’s reputation, its worse. It is a moral obscenity and malicious hijack of a Giwa family tragedy. The facts on the ground include:
NewsWatch Magazine founded by Dele Giwa awarded General Marwa “Nigeria Man of the Year: 1997.” There was demonstrably no bad blood.
Even if one were to accept the military’s involvement, a Lieutenant Colonel (Marwa’s rank at the time) would have been too senior to serve as errand boy. In any case, Marwa was already a public figure and would have been easily recognized by the Dele Giwa household.
Just as consequential, the lead investigator of Giwa’s murder case, former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG), Chris Omeben, conducted a lineup of suspects at the time, and none had anything with or resemblance to Ambassador Marwa.
Ogunade is clearly not a man lacking in grandiosity. Ogunade actually thinks it believable that Nigerian military officials would travel to New York and share what would be classified information with him. Why, as who, as what? I am sure if Ogunnade has a fixed address, by now he would be battling with a libel suit from the two gentlemen he tried hard to soil their reputation. I think charlatans like this should not be given space by our news media platforms to damage reputations others have built by dint of hard work so as to preserve their credibility.
Durotimi Daramola sent in this piece from Area 3, Abuja.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.