October 19th, 1986

On this day, the pioneer editor-in-chief of Newswatch, Dele Giwa, was assassinated. He was reportedly killed after he received a parcel bomb when detonated at his residence located at No. 25, Talabi Street, off Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos. The assassination occurred two days after he had been questioned by officials of the State Security Service (SSS).

Mr. Dele Giwa, who was killed at the age of 39, was known for exposing corrupt and illegal dealings of the government and that earned him recognition both locally and internationally.

He had written about the newly introduced Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market (SFEM) and stated that if SFEM failed, people will “stone their leaders in the streets.” That did not go down well with the government who invited him to the State Security Service (SSS) office on September 19, 1986 for questioning. Again, on October 16, 1986, Giwa was questioned by Col. Halilu Akilu of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) on the allegation that he was speaking to people about arms importation and for attempting to write the “other side” of the story on the removal of Ebitu Ukiwe as Chief of the General Staff to the military president, General Ibrahim Babaginda.

Giwa’s death remains an enigma. It was articulately plotted with a very clear mission of terminating him completely. It was a brutal technology method of assassination and a plan well executed. The instrument used in killing Dele Giwa was a bomb sent in form of a letter. A kind of death that was unprecedented in the nation’s history. Although he was taken to the hospital, he later died from the wounds he sustained from the blast.

As his last words, Dele Giwa was reported to have said, “They got me.”

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