Adjacent to the Benin Museum with its spectacular splashing water fountain, the intimidating historic Oba Palace to the right and the surrounding sturdy sculptures of past Benin heroes lays the newly painted Oredo Local Government (OLG) building. The seat of the Edo State Government and House of Assembly are just stone throw away from the OLG building. While the hustling and bustling Oba Market towers stoically over the teeming pedestrians.
Welcome to Kings Square, Benin City, Edo State – The Heart Beat of Nigeria. There is something mystical and captivating about this ancient city. If you have ever lived in the City, you get enchanted by her mesmerizing appeal. Benin epitomizes everything Nigerian – a fusion of dozens of different tribes and peoples. These days you see people from as far as Niger and other parts of Africa. Indians and Caucasians are becoming a common site on the streets of Benin City.
With the present new look of OLG building, anyone new to the City can hardly tell how old the building really is. As a teenager in high school, it was the one stop shop for identity cards, birth certificates and other required government papers. Today, during the week, the building is crowded with people going in and out for different reasons. On weekends, marriage ceremonies, traditional events and other cultural activities keep the building alight.
What many young Edolites do not know today is that on February 22nd, 1992, a well loved articulate, progressive and forward-thinking man was assassinate in the OLG building. His name was George Idah. He was the Oredo Local Government Chairman back then. A Street was subsequently named after him – the popular George Idah Avenue in G.R.A, Benin City.
It was a normal office day activity for George Idah on that faithful Saturday February 22, 1992. But little did he know that he would never return home to his family. “Unknown assailants” were reported to have entered the OLG building, shot him point-blank and left him to die in the pool of blood.
The streets were quiet as the news spread around Benin that the Chairman has been killed. You could hear whisperings and wailings as Edo people and Nigerians try to make sense about the tragic event.
The assassination of George Idah was one of the high profiles killings in the history of Nigeria. Military President Ibrahim Babangida was Nigeria’s President (NRC party). Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was the Governor (SDP party) and Parry Osayande was State Commissioner of police. Unfortunately, George Idah was in SDP. It was believed NRC stalwarts in the City wanted to take control of Edo State hook, line and sinker.
All the political intrigues and machinations between SDP and NRC political players leading to the assassination of the beloved Chairman played out in the public domain. It was common knowledge that the fight for political supremacy and control led to George Idah’s assassination.
Several people were purportedly “arrested” after the assassination and taken to Abuja. Confessions were reportedly made by several of those arrested. Like other Nigeria’s appalling and despicable “open assassinations” Nigerians and the people of Edo State were promised that the death of the Chairman “will be investigated and the perpetrators will be brought to justice”.
Since 1992, Nigerians and Edolites are still waiting for the Nigeria’s police to tell us who killed George Idah. What happened to those that were arrested? What happened to those that gave confessions? The “will be investigated and brought to justice” statement is another way of Nigeria’s police saying “the untouchables are in charge here, case closed.” Plain and unfussy cases that a high school student can investigate and produce a valid report within 24 hours!
Parry Osayande who was actively engaged in investigating the murder inexplicably retired in what many believed was a forced retirement and ploy to cover up the perpetrators. What is heart wrenching and mind blowing is that those that the Benin people believed killed George Idah started running the Government after his death.
Pusillanimously, as the new government took control, the Edo State House of Assembly passed the Edo State Vigilante Services bill. According to dawodu.com, tugs, assassins and cultists were recruited to run the vigilante group in Benin City. What happened next in the City (especially in the fight for control of the Transportation Union) is history!
The question now and again and again is who killed George Idah? All well meaning Nigerians are still seeking for answers. Parry Osayande is still alive and he’s now the Nigeria’s Police Service Commission boss. Former president Ibrahim Babangida is still alive. Most of the then NRC and SDP key players in the State are still alive. Matter-of-factly, shamefully so, many are currently in position of power.
The files of George Idah’s assassination need to be re-opened. Twenty two years later, the Nigerian people have the right to know. Parry Osayande and IBB are in the best position to know who killed a man that wanted to positively change the status quo in Benin City.
Maybe the present dynamic and commendable Nigerian press can help Nigerians do some investigative journalism on this case? I think it will worth the time and effort!
Like Bola Ige and other well meaning Nigerians assassinated by evil men, may the soul of George Idah rest in peace on this twenty second year of his assassination.
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