The Ink Dries For Dimgba,By Dele Agekameh

agekameh 600That lonesome evening of Saturday, September 6, 2014, I was alone, sitting on the sofa in my room, ensconced in thoughts. Suddenly, I looked up to the television set that was doing its own thing unnoticed for some time. Behold the news scroll on the AIT station: “Dimgba Igwe, Vice-Chairman, Sun Newspapers, dies at 58.” At first, it did not as much register in my consciousness as I stared blankly at the television set unable to comprehend whether what I had seen was true, could be true or was totally true. Immediately, I sat up, waiting for the news to come round again. Then it came again and again and again.
By now, the journalistic instinct in me had woken up. I reached out to my cellphone. As I held it, trying to put a call through for more information about the shocking news, the first name that came to mind was Eric Osagie, whom I choose to call “Omonoba”, meaning “Prince”, in Edo language. I have known and bonded with Eric way back to his days of sojourn with the now rested Weekend Concord. Fate joined us together in 1986 and, since then, we have bonded till date. When Eric was with Concord, there was no time we met that his discussion will not veered off to Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe, the professional Siamese twins, who were his bosses and were and are still his bosses in the Sun newspapers. I know that Dimgba has transformed from the terrestrial world to the celestial clime, but he is still a boss. As they say, “once a boss is always a boss.” Even though Dimgba is no more, he will forever remain a boss to all those who passed through his tutelage.
During the brief interregnum when Concord went off the streets, Eric still maintained his close contact with the duo of Mike and Dimgba, who had then produced their first book. I remember that Eric was involved in marketing the book as he moved all over the place soliciting for buyers. Soon after, the Sun newspapers hit the newsstands. Eric came on board. Each time we met, he never ceased to talk about Dimgba and Mike in glorious terms. It was through his many narrations that I got to know Mike and Dimgba more. Eric mirrored them. Though he never uttered the word “mentor”, but the innate passion with which he spoke about them with love and stylish fervour, they are, no doubt, his mentors and, by extension, same to so many others.
So that night, I put a call through to Eric. It rang endlessly without any response. That was quite unusual. My worse fear was confirmed when the 10’o clock news that night said Dimgba Igwe’s death was caused by a hit-and-run driver while he was jogging around his neighbourhood in Okota, a suburb of Lagos. I am quite familiar with that Okota axis of Lagos, which I explored in and out for three years, between 1989 and 1991, when I was working at Champion newspapers, located at Ilasamaja. I am also familiar with the Apata Memorial High School, around where the murderous driver decided to end it all for Dimgba. That area, at that time, was highly notorious, perhaps, because of the ethnic concentration in that place.
Anyway, I couldn’t reach Eric that night as he did not return my call. Throughout the night, the thoughts of the life of someone of that status being extinguished in such a reckless and callous manner, punctured and punctuated my sleep all through. It was a sleepless night in which my mind kept wandering while I eagerly awaited the flash of daylight to signify another day. My hope was that the newspapers, which my vendor brings before 7a.m every day, will throw more light on the greatest puzzle of the year that Dimgba’s untimely death represents. The newspapers arrived, as usual, just a few minutes to 7a.m. As they were being handed over to me on the bed, my phone rang. The caller was Eric. Both of us were too much in haste to talk about Dimgba’s death, so much that we could not exchange greetings.
“What happened to Dimgba?” I thundered. Eric answered: “My brother, na so we see am o”. “How did it happen?” I queried further. Eric replied, “You see, nobody really knows exactly what happened, but we heard that he was knocked down by a car while he was jogging early in the morning and somebody picked his phone and called his wife”. Eric and I then went into a long conversation over the incident. Eric blamed his death on the lack of appropriate and adequate Medical facilities in the country. He narrated how they took the injured Dimgba to one or two hospitals where there were no surgeons to attend to him, until he was rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, where the surgeons there, tried unsuccessfully to stabilise him before he finally died.
While Eric Osagie was agonising over the dearth of appropriate emergency medical care in the country, which might have hastened the death of Dimgba, I simply told him to look beyond that because it could be a simulated assassination. Let us look at it this way. Jogging around that spot where the incident occurred could have been or was a routine which he did religiously. In that case, he was vulnerable to any hit man or hit men lurking around to commit havoc. All they needed do was to lay ambush ahead of his appearance along that route that unholy morning. As he came around, quite oblivious of the satanic plot, he could have even unknowingly jogged past the vehicle bearing his killer or killers. As soon as the killers were sure of their target, the vehicle would rev into life, move quickly and dangerously crush the target in the usual, crazy manner of driving in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos, to make it look like an accident.
‘While Eric Osagie was agonising over the dearth of appropriate emergency medical care in the country, which might have hastened the death of Dimgba, I simply told him to look beyond that because it could be a simulated assassination’
But what could be the motive for such heinous crime? Just anything! Anything that upsets another person could precipitate such criminal act. Here was a man so much married to his job and the gospel. Those close to him say he could not hurt a fly. But he was in business – the business of writing books and, perhaps, some other things along the line. For sure, he couldn’t have been involved in shady deals that might warrant settling scores with death. But then, you never can tell. Petty jealousy and inferiority complex, of which I was a victim in the recent past, could lead an aggrieved person to commit anything. Whatever it is, I believe we all must learn a lesson, or two, from this tragedy.
Moreover, in this era of technological advancement, what has happened to our so-called policy on e-policing? Is it too much to install CCTV at notorious crime scenes and very busy areas? This, I believe, would have solved the puzzle that Dimgba’s death has become. Or at least, keep murderers in check. It’s time we put on our thinking caps. It’s Dimgba’s turn today …
Dimgba lived. Now, he is dead. Stone dead. Never to move either his limbs or fingers again to write the beautiful prose that stood him out in the firmament of journalism in Nigeria. How cruel death is, the monster that devour both the young and the old at will! The dead do not glorify death or tremble at its sight. They just walk away to eternity. It is the living that feels the pain, the anguish, the bereavement and sense of loss. More than a million cries or an ocean of tears can never retrieve the dead. As we weep and gnash our teeth in solemnity with the family, friends and acquaintances left behind by our brother and our comrade-in-arms in the fight against the buccaneers and the oppressors in our midst, we must face the stark reality that Dimgba Igwe has played his part and gone forever. He now sits with the Saints. Well, the police, must fish out whodunit!

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