DELE GIWA - Timilehin Salu
“Dele Giwa” was born Sumonu Oladele "Baines" Giwa on the 16 March 1947 in Ile-Ife, Ife Central LGA, Osun State to Musa and Ayi Elekia Giwa both from Ugbekpe-Ekperi, Bendel State, in what is now Edo State. His father was one of the domestic workers in the palace of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife.
He attended Local Authority Modern School in Lagere, Ile-lfe. When his father moved to Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife as a laundry man, he gained admission to the school. Dele Giwa travelled later to the USA for his higher education, earning a BA in English from Brooklyn College in 1977 and enrolled for a Graduate program at Fordham University.
In 1974, while getting his Master’s Degree at Fordham, Dele Giwa joined the prestigious New York Times after a meeting with its Metropolitan desk editor during which he pointed out a grammatical error in one of their articles. Impressed by his boldness and bluntness, Giwa was hired on the spot. He worked there for four and a half years: first as a news clerk, then as a news assistant in the United Nations bureau.
While he was there, he met Dr Patrick Dele Cole – then the Managing Director of the Nigerian Daily Times – who wanted him to come back to Nigeria and be the editor of the newspaper. In 1978, a year after he met Cole, Dele accepted his offer, and officially began work as the features editor of the Daily Times in April 1979.
While at the Daily Times, he established a number of columns: Page 7, Art/Life, and American File. He also wrote two columns a week (Press Snaps and Parallax View).
In 1980, Giwa became the editor of the Sunday Concord, the Sunday edition of the National Concord, which was founded by M.K.O Abiola. In 1984, he and other journalists Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yabuku Mohammed founded the Newswatch Magazine. The Magazine redefined investigative journalism in Nigeria.
Dele Giwa was known to be an ardent lover of truth. In his active days, he devoted his time to exposing the corrupt and illegal deeds of the Nigerian government which earned him the people’s recognition, support and trust. It was reported that the Government saw Dele Giwa as an impediment and threat to some of its activities and thus decided that his elimination was the only way to avoid being exposed.
In the days leading to his death, Giwa was falsely accused of trying to radicalise Nigeria and looking for ways to destabilise it, as well as of possibly publishing stories on the removal of government officials. He was accused on four major grounds:
- That Newswatch was planning to write another side of the story on Ebitu Ukiwe’s removal as Chief of General Staff to General Babangida
- Second that Giwa promised to defend Alozie Ogugbuaja, a Superintendent of Police and spokesman for the Lagos State Police command who had accused soldiers of negligence during a students’ riot which took place in early 1986.
- He was also accused of holding discussions with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to carry out a socialist revolution.
- Dele Giwa was also accused of planning to import ammunitions into the Country for the revolution.
At this point, he started to fear for his life and that of his family.
On Sunday October 19, 1986, Giwa was working in his study with fellow journalist and friend, Newswatch’s London Bureau Chief Kayode Soyinka, when he received a parcel with a “confidential” stamp and the Nigerian coat-of-arms and “from the Commander-in-Chief” printed on the corner. The parcel was a bomb and exploded as Giwa opened it. His legs were crushed and cut off in the explosion. He was rushed to hospital where, after many attempts to save his life, he died on the 19th of October, 1986 at the age of 39.
There have been various suggestions on the death of Dela Giwa, one which gained ground was the supposed discovery of the Gloria Okon saga and his intention to expose those in high authority.
After his death, Newswatch was not the same. Relations between the magazine and the government hit an all-time low and the articles it published were poor and unimaginative. By April 1987, the magazine was essentially dead. It was banned for publishing what seemed to be a harmless government White Paper. On May 8, 2011, 51% of the shares of Newswatch Communications Limited were purchased by Global Media Mirror Ltd, publishers of the National Mirror.
Giwa married an American nurse in 1974. His second marriage, to Florence Ita Giwa, lasted 10 months. He later married Olufunmilayo Olaniyan on 10 July 1984, and they were married until his death.
- How Dele Giwa was bombed to death in 1986
- Killers Exposed! The Gruesome Murder of Dele Giwa In 1986
- Dele Giwa - Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries