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FOR THE RECORDS: Dele Giwa’s Murder: Akilu, Togun Are Prime Suspects Abubakar Tsav, Retired Commissioner Of Police

FOR THE RECORDS: Dele Giwa’s Murder: Akilu, Togun Are Prime Suspects Abubakar Tsav, Retired Commissioner Of Police
  • PublishedJune 12, 2020

My name is Abubakar B. Tsav.  I live in Wadata Ward in Markurdi, Benue State. I retired from the services of the Nigeria Police Force on 27th of April 1998 as a Commissioner of Police in Lagos State after spending 35 years and nine months in service. Three-quarters of my career was spent on criminal investigation duties, during which I handled very sensitive, difficult and important cases. I attended Detective Course in Wakefield U.K. in 1967 and had on-the-job- training in criminal investigation. My skill was further developed through close liaison with State and prosecuting counsels in all the cases I investigated. I was at various times – O/C Homicide Panti CID Yaba; O/C Railway CID; O/C State CID Kano; 2i/c Interpol CID Lagos; O/C G.I. Force CID; O/C Prosecution Force CID. In the daily application o f my duties, I acquired considerable experience in criminal investigation duties.

Listening to High Court judges deliver judgment in cases and prosecuting/defense counsels make their submissions on my cases also helped me a great deal to improve my knowledge of criminal investigation and the law. Among the counsels who prosecuted the cases I investigated are now Supreme/High Court judges were  Mr. Justice Ejiwunmi, Mr. Justice A.A. Adeniji, Mr. Justice Muri Okunola, Mr. Justice Adesosoye, Mr. Justice Manuwa and many others.

The officers under whom I served recognised this and took advantage of my experience, capability, honesty and straight-forwardness in the investigation of criminal cases. Accordingly, all important cases requiring honest, unbiased and thorough investigations were referred to me for investigation.

Some of these cases are the Gloria Okon cocaine case, theft of Aircraft by two British Pilots, Ahmadu Bello University Students/Police clash, Lawrence Anini and his gang. A case where a senior police officer changed cocaine to yam powder, (this was suppressed by Police authorities). A case of alleged attack on Police at Guri in 1979 by Alhaji Aminu Kano and his supporters. I found the Police liable and the powers-that-be asked me to change my report; but I refused.

A case of fraud reported by First Bank against their manager in Kano, who later became Editor of a newspaper. A command investigated this case and refuted it as false, for reasons we all know; but when referred it to me, I proved it beyond reasonable doubts. (The case was later suppressed by Police authorities). Another case of murder where a command refuted it as undetected. I investigated the case and proved it. This was also suppressed despite DPP’s advice that the case be prosecuted.

Large-scale forgery of certificate by an Umuahia-based master forger, NECOM House fire, Cocoa House inferno, Wanton attack on Fela’s House Kalakuta Republic by the Military, Fraud in Police Cooperatives, case of corrupt enrichment against Director of NYSC, case of murder against a prominent Kano businessman, case of corruption and fraud in the National Bank of Nigeria Limited etc. I took part in the investigation of Defence House inferno and the murder of Col. Rindam by the police.

I was serving I Police Cllege, Ikeja as the O/C Advanced Traninging Wing from 1982 when the Inspector-General of Police nominated me to take part in the Investigation of Abuja Fraud. On my arrival at Abuja Airport, however the Commissioner of Police FCT at that time Mr. Shettima AIG (Rtd.) met me and said the IGP had telephoned that I should return to Lagos immediately to take part in the investigation of the NECOM House fire, which was more important. My involvement in the investigation of sensitive and important cases, I believe, is based on my competence and the reputation I created over the years and the ability to speak the truth. The corrupt elements in the force did not like this, but this is their view which they are entitled to under our Constitution.

It is in recognition of my investigative ability that the case of the letter bomb, which claimed the life of Dele Giwa on 19th of October 1986, was referred to me for investigation by authorities of the Force of CID. This case was the first of its kind in Nigeria, and I was prepared to give out my heart to uncover the perpetrators of this devilish act.

Accordingly, I invited and interrogated all known associates of the late Dele Giwa; including the petitioners and the former wife of the deceased (Mrs. Florence Ita-Giwa). The night guard, Musa  Zibo, Dele Giwa’s wife Funmi, his son Billy and Kayode Soyinka, the then London Bureau Chief of Newswatch were also interrogated.

Chief Gani Fawehinmi also helped us a great deal in our investigation. Facts gathered during  my investigation showed that both the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Col. Halilu Akilu, and the 2i/c, Department of State Security Service (SSS) Col. A.K. Togun had encounter with Dele Giwa at various times with allegations that he was security risk. Among charges levelled against him were that he published or intended to publish articles in the Newswatch, which were against the Military Government or General Ibrahim Babangida e.g. judgment in the Mamman Vatsa Coup trial, a story on the OCI, the alleged use of Gloria Okon as courier for hard drugs.

He was also accused of planning to incite the National Association of Nigeria Students to revolt against the government. He was further alleged to have planned to import arms into the country to destabilize the government.  Again he was accused of associating or sympathizing with Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe when he lost his job as Vice President.

As a result of these and many other unproven allegations, he was invited to both the Director of Military Intelligence and the SSS on various occasions. He was also referred to the Police; Col. A.K. Togun who was the 2i/c of SSS interrogated him at the SSS H/Q. The Police in Force CID Alagbon Close also interrogated him. On the whole, there was no substance in the allegations whatsoever. It was like the eyes of childhood, which fear a painted devil.

My investigation also revealed that on 18th October 1986, Col. Halilu Akilu, the Director, Directorate of Military Intelligence telephoned Dele Giwa’s house about noon. Dele Giwa was not in; but his wife Funmi answered the phone call. Col. Akilu asked her the address and location of their house. In curiosity, she (Funmi) asked him why he wanted to know their address and he claimed that the ADC to the Head of State had a message for her husband. Besides he also wanted to visit Dele Giwa on his way to Kano, which he never did. According to her, he was conversant with the voice of Col. Halilu Akilu because he had been telephoning the house for about four weeks before the incident. She therefore had no difficulties in recognizing his voice. She then unsuspectingly gave the address of their residence as No. 25, Talabi Street, Ikeja, Lagos.

On the 19th of October 1986, Col. Halilu Akilu again telephoned Dele Giwa and discussed with him for about 10 minutes presumably to make sure that Dele Giwa was at home. Not quite long after the telephone call, a car (Peugeot 504) with unidentified Registration Number drove in, and the occupant handed over a padded brown parcel to Musa Zibo, the security guard, for delivery to Dele Giwa, who was at that time having his breakfast. Kayode Soyinka was with him in Pyjamas. Musa Zibo handed over the parcel to Billy Dele Giwa’s son for delivery to his father. The driver of the car did not wait but hurriedly sped off. The parcel had a parchment with Nigerian Coat of Arms on it on which Dele Giwa’s name was typewritten. It was thick and marked “From the Office of the C-in-C; with remark that “nobody except the addressee should open it.” The intention when matched with the hurried disappearance of the driver from the scene is clear. From all indication, it seemed he did not want the letter bomb to explode while he was still around, apparently having been properly briefed by his senders.

According to Kayode  Soyinka, when Dele Giwa received the parcel he unsuspectingly looked at it, smiled and said it must be from the President. Dele Giwa thought so, because he had received similar letters from the President in the past. But no sooner had he tried to open it than a blast occurred which shook the building from its foundation. Kayode Soyinka was thrown on the ground and the whole room was filled with smoke. Dele Giwa’s stomach and thighs were shattered into pieces and was rushed to First Foundation Medical Centre, Opebi, Ikeja where he was later certified dead.

The envelope containing the letter bomb burnt to ashes with explosives. This was not handed over to me. The use of parcel bomb to eliminate a person in this country was the first of its kind and I was determined to put in my best to uncover the perpetrators of this evil at all cost. I also expected the Federal Government or General Ibrahim Babangida to act the same way by providing enabling environment for the police to thoroughly investigate this case and pick up witnesses and suspects wherever they were or whatever position they held. I expected government to show keen interest in the successful investigation of this case but alas, the reverse was the case. Not only that the government failed to do so, but they also did not give the police the required support and mandate to prove its case. For instance a responsible and caring government could have established a commission of enquiry immediately the incident occurred or put in place a special investigation unit comprising senior officers from the police and the military to jointly investigate the case as in other cases, with authority to invite and interrogate any person or group of persons from whom they believed they could obtain reasonable information on the commission of the crime. This was not done.  It is a known fact but not known to Nigerian law that the Police cannot arrest Senior Military officers for any criminal offence without support of the government especially if such senior military officers are the head or security or intelligence services as in this case.

I am aware that only a caring and democratic government can agree to probe itself. The Government of the day at that time was a military dictatorship. The sophistication with which the letter parcel was prepared and the use of a sticker with Nigeria coat of arms; coupled with the inscription “from the Office of the C-in-C” suggested that government was on the know of this devilish scheme.  This apart, the reported telephone conversation between Mrs. Funmi Giwa and Col. H. Akilu on 18th October 1986; during which Col. Akilu sought to know the residential address of Dele Giwa so that the “ADC” to C-in-C may send a card to Dele Giwa and he too (Col. Akilu) would stop over to see Dele Giwa on his way to Kano, was in my view of plot to know the address so that the letter bomb may be delivered correctly by the messenger of death.

His (Col. Akilu) further telephone call on 19th of October 1986 to Dele Giwa was to make sure that he Dele Giwa (the target) was at home to receive the letter bomb. These incidents were not mere coincidence but a plan to achieve devilish acts. The failure of the driver of death to wait for Dele Giwa’s reaction after the receipt of the letter bomb was clearly in furtherance to their conspiracy to kill their victim. Throughout my investigation, I was unable to reach Cols. H. Akilu and A.K. Togun for interrogation in view of the positions they held as director of DMI and 2i/c SSS respectively. Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, who was the Director-General SSS could also not be interrogated for the same reason.

Accordingly, I submitted an interim report highlighting my preliminary findings and recommended that both Col. Halilu Akilu and A.K. Togun, against whom there was enough circumstantial evidence to successfully prosecute, be made available for interrogation and voice identification.. In addition, I recommended that their special privileges be withdrawn to enable the police conduct searches of their offices and residence for items of evidential value. Both my report and the case file were submitted to Mr. Chris Omeben the then DIG in charge of Force CID Ikoyi. The IGP at that time was Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta.


Since then I have heard nothing about the case, neither has the case file been returned as at today. There is also no indication that the case had been re-assigned to another investigator or agency for continuation of investigation. It is therefore sage to say that the case has been suppressed. This would not be possible if government was not involved in the callous killing of Dele Giwa. I strongly urge this honourable commission to invite Rev. Chris Omeben DIG (rtd.), who is a man of God before this commission to say what happened to the case file. A case of this nature where government itself is indicted cannot see the light of day. So it is with the Dele Giwa case but we must think of justice, our children and the future generation of this country. If we escape man’s justice through the use of our exalted offices, we will surely not escape God’s judgment.

It is the responsibility of Government to protect its citizens, but where the same government misuses its agents against its citizens, then, it means we are returning to the Stone Age. This type of selected killings by government and its agencies will tear this country apart.

I am unable to produce copy of my interim report on the case as exhibit although I dispatched letter dated 24th of November 2000 by the DHL  same day to the officer i/c, Force CID, Mrs. A.J. Ojomu AIG to trace and make available my report, I have as at date not received any courtesy of a reply.

The elimination of Dele Giwa is wicked and callous. My investigation focused on Col. Halilu Akilu and A.K. Togun as the prime suspects and there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence to prove this. The non-return of the case file to me for the completion of investigation into this serious case is a design by the powers-that-be to shield the suspects from prosecution. This in itself is a criminal act.

I strongly recommend that Col. A.K. Togun be summoned before this panel to answer some pertinent questions on the death of Dele Giwa. I recommend no reconciliation but prosecution in court as the only way to address this wicked and murderous act. No one has the right to terminate another person’s life in order to conceal his evil.

I further recommend that government and indeed the police authorities in this country should stop interfering in criminal cases and, instead, observe the Rule of Law.

Finally, anyone who threatens me with death for speaking the truth is just wasting his/her time, because I have never told anyone that I will live forever. If God has taken away the lives of my parents, surely same God will not spare me. When my time is up I shall go to join my ancestors like every human being.

We shall all die; sceptres and crowns shall tumble down and in the dust we were equally made. Only the truth can save us. To achieve any reconciliation we must be prepared to speak the truth. Thank you my lord, and honourable members of the Commission.”


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