Daughter, Ayodele, celebrates Dele Giwa’s 74th posthumous birthday

Dele Giwa
L-R: Ayodele, with her late dad, Dele Giwa

Ayodele Dele Giwa, the daughter of slain celebrated Nigerian journalist, former editor and founder of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa, has celebrated her father’s birthday with a social media post, almost 35 years after he was assassinated.

He was killed by a mail bomb in his Ikeja, Lagos State home on 19th October, 1986.

Like in a nostalgic vibe, Ayodele posted a photograph showing her standing beside dad, who sat on a sofa and kept a direct and fixed gaze on her, in the company of an unnamed person believed to be a family member.

In her comment she wrote: “Probably one of my favorite pictures. Happy birthday, Daddy!” 🖤

Ayodele, had earlier made a statement in one of her social media posts that she was one year old, when her father died, but she said all she knew about him are stories from family and pictures.

Dele Giwa — March 16, 1947 to October 19, 1986

Today, March 16, marks the day Dele Giwa was born.

He was born Sumonu Oladele “Baines” Giwa, on March 16, 1947 to a family who worked in the palace of the late Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the then Ooni of Ife. He would have been 74.

Dele Giwa, as he was fondly called, after his secondary school education in Ile-Ife, Osun State, left Nigeria for Brooklyn College, in the United States, to study English.

There in the US, in 1974, he married an American nurse, and three years later, which was in 1977, after his graduation, he proceeded to Fordham University for his graduate school.

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It was on his return after a seven-year sojourn in the US, Dele Giwa got a job with Daily Times newspaper, and later went on to marry former Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, but their marriage didn’t last for more than 10 months.

He later pulled out of Daily Times, and in 1984, Dele Giwa, with other journalists, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yabuku Mohammed, founded the Newswatch magazine.

From its start, the Newswatch magazine team redefined investigative journalism in Nigeria.

In a third conjugal attempt, Dele Giwa got married to Olaufunmilayo Olaniyan in 1984.

A year later, in 1985, the magazine attracted the attention of the new military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, which it lauded on assumption into office, after it overthrew the Major General Muhammadu Buhari junta, who had earlier interrupted the reign of Shehu Sagari democratic administration on December 31, 1983.

But just a year after in 1986, Dele Giwa’s Newswatch had become staunch critic of the Babangida administration. One of such publications that irritated the then military junta, was his exposé on Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market (SFEM).

Dele Giwa had written about the newly introduced Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market (SFEM) and stated that if SFEM (“God’s experiment”) failed, people will “stone their leaders in the streets.”

This did not go down well with the government who invited him to the State Security Service (SSS) office on the 19th of September 1986.

On the 9th of October, the deputy director of the SSS Lt. Col. A.K. Togun organised a meeting with airport journalists to state that any report that will embarrass the government be given to the SSS before publishing it. Col Togun alleged that this meeting was also held with Dele Giwa and Alex Ibru of the Guardian Newspaper.

A follow up meeting, again, held on the 16th of October 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 General Babangida in the cover of Power Games: Ukiwe loses out.

After his return, Giwa told his friend Prince Tony Momoh, the minister of Communications that he feared for his life but Momoh joked that it should not be taken seriously.

The following day, a staff of DMI requested for his office number from his wife. Attempts to reach him at his office failed hence the call once again to his home only this time, Col. Akilu spoke with his wife asking her for directions stating that the president’s ADC has something to give Giwa.

Gani Fawehinmi With Dele Giwa’s photo. Photo: Committee to Protect Journalists

The following day, Giwa called to find out why there was a call and Akilu told him not to bother. 40 minutes after that, Giwa received a parcel which it turned out was a letter bomb. He was rushed to the hospital where his last words were to his friend and medical director of First Foundation Medical Centre, Ikeja. According to a report, the veteran “ ‘in burning pains took a look at the Medical Director who was said to be his friend and told him: “Tosin, they’ve got me.’ ”

All now history. Happy post humour birthday to Dele Giwa.