25 years after: How Alfred Rewane was murdered by Abacha’s men

25 years after: How Alfred Rewane was murdered by Abacha’s men

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 3:05 pm

Chief Alfred Rewane


By Ademola Adegbamigbe

It was on Friday, 6 October, 1995, between 8.15 and 8.30 am, that the unexpected happened. A Peugeot 504 car screeched to a halt in front of 100 Oduduwa Crescent, G.R.A, Ikeja, Lagos, home of Pa Alfred Rewane. If it were in a movie, there would have been some sound in the background to aggravate the sense of menace.

Like killers belonging to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, five men alighted from the belly of the car. They approached the sentry, telling him that they had come to see the landlord, to deliver an important message from Life Flour Mills, Sapele. Pa Rewane is the owner of the company. They shoved a document to the gate man’s face. Pronto, he creaked the gate open on its greased hinges. The men entered.

A domestic staffer was on his way upstairs to inform Chief that he had some guests. Two of the men clambered upstairs with the aide. The others had held two of the Chief’s daughters hostage while the others were busy upstairs with the landlord. The assailants pumped bullets into the body of the innocent old man. He died.

Born on 24 August 1916 – Pa Rewane was a Nigerian businessman and a financier of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and was a political kindred spirit with the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other progressives.

Rewane’s full name at birth was, as his biographers revealed, Ogbeyiwa Erewarone. He was born in Warri to the family of Jemide Erewarone. As contained in Link with the past,  Aike Books, his is father was a trader who was based in Agbor and when his father was away from Warri, Rewane stayed with his uncle “who was religious at the time and he gave Rewane the first name Alfred.” He attended the African School and then the Government School, both in Warri.

According to his biographers, whose narratives were aggregated by Wikipedia, Rewane started his career as a manager trainee with UAC and became the beach master, Lagos Customs Wharf for the firm. “In the 1940s he left UAC and focused on importing goods, especially cow bones and black pepper and then in the 1950s, he was also into the timber trade and he owned the Rex club in Yaba, Lagos where Bobby Benson was a regular musician.”

As contained in  Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation, during the pre-independence era in Nigeria, Rewane was affiliated with the Action Group. He became the “chairman of the Western Nigeria Development Company which was controlled by the Action Group led regional government.”

Rewane floated Life Flour mills, West African Shrimps and Top Feeds in Sapele in concert with the Seaboard Group of the United States.

In the 1990s, Rewane’s residence in Lagos, as published in Yorùbá Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria (Cambridge University Press) was the venue of political meetings that led to the formation of NADECO. “He was known as a major financier of the group which was vocal in its opposition to the military regime of Sani Abacha. The Nigerian police arrested 7 persons in connection with his murder but five of the suspects died while in detention, the remaining two were freed based on weak evidence from the prosecution.”

On the 25th memorial, Steve Aborisade, a public affairs analyst, submitted: ” While at the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) as Coordinator, we published a book ‘Kudirat Steps in Time’. This enabled me have a very close encounter with actors close to Pa Rewane and his instructive contribution to the pro democracy movement which eventually led to his death. Thank you, TheNEWS, for revisiting a key period of our history.”

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