Kim Jong-Nam’s assassination: Implication for Nigeria

Posted by News Express | 11 March 2017 | 1,736 times

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On the day the world celebrated Lovers’ Day, the world witnessed the first-ever ‘Nerve-agent-induced assassination’, in broad day light, of the elder half-brother of the North Korean maximum ruler: Kim Jong-Nam. Target of the well-executed plot, he died on February 14, shortly after the attack in the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he had been preparing to take a flight to Macau.

The media reported that the attack is thought to have been carried out by a woman who is believed to have wiped a fast-acting poison on his face. At the last count, two women involved in the assassination have been apprehended. Malaysian police have detained four suspects –a Vietnamese woman, an Indonesian woman, a Malaysian man, and North Korean man – and are on the hunt for four other North Koreans who fled the country on the day of the attack.

The grainy closed circuit television footage, which has been released on several websites showed, from two different angles, a woman wearing a white top grab a man's face from behind with both hands and walk away. A second woman was also seen walking swiftly away in another direction after the assault, though it was unclear if she had participated in the attack.

The portly, balding middle-aged man was seen stumbling and wiping his face after the assault, and later clips showed him seeking help from people while gesturing to his face and then being escorted to a clinic. More footage showed him inside the clinic seeking medical assistance.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos, and police officials were not immediately available for comment. On February 24 2017, the Malaysian police confirmed that the chemical used for the fatal assassination is classified by the United Nations as a ‘Weapon of mass destruction.’

Kim Jong Nam, 46, who has been living in the Chinese territory of Macau, under Beijing's protection, had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed nation. (

The abovementioned assassination is not the first time that high profile political personality has been killed by forces opposed to free speech. The United States of America has had a chequered history of politicians getting killed by paid assassins or even by the secret service agents of the state. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in the 1960’s. Indeed, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was linked to the assassination of JFK.

A scholar, JH Fetzer, once wrote: “If you have ever been tempted to believe that President Kennedy was killed by a lone, demented gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald, then Assassination Science is the one book which will convince you beyond any reasonable doubt that there was, indeed, a Conspiracy....”

The black civil Rights campaigner, Dr Martin Luther King, was similarly assassinated. But the marked difference is the means by which the North Korean was killed as well as the mystery surrounding how such a high-calibre chemical poison was imported into Malaysia by the North Korean spies who masterminded the murder of the half-brother of the reclusive ruler of the heavily isolated country of North Korea.

North Korean secret service agents have also been caught severally in South Korea attempting to carry out assassination. Technically, the end of the Korean War about 50 years ago does not mean the end of war between the two Koreas. North and South Korea on July 27th 1953 signed an armistice, meaning that it is not necessarily the end of the war but only an agreement by warring parties to stop. Essentially, North Korean secret service agents have also been caught in the web of high-wire assassination plots inside South Korea.

But this is the very first time that North Korean secret service agents have successfully carried out a targeted killing in Malaysia, but sadly the victim is the half-brother of a political dictator that has become notorious for killing his opponents.

Kim Jong-Nam is known for his liberal views and had even written a book demanding open government in his home country. This sentiment is seen as a direct affront to the powers of the North Korean tyrant. Khalid Abu Bakar, the Malaysian police chief, told the media that victim of this high-profile assassination, Mr Kim Jong-Nam, was killed with a VX Nerve Agent, which is listed as a chemical weapon. The swirling news of this assassination will have wider global implications, and Nigeria is not immune from such repercussions.

Indeed, Nigeria is a fertile ground of political assassinations. It is feared that as Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari ups the ante in his brand of war against corruption, by introducing the dimension of whistleblowers, assassination of this scientific dimension may begin in Nigeria.

Obviously, political assassination is a major disturbing political phenomenon to an extent that the last 16 years reign of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) was captured by Prof Wole Soyinka as, not only a season of anomie but, a time when the then ruling party transformed into a ‘Nest of killers’.

During the President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, his justice minister, Chief Bola Ige (SAN), was assassinated, when his entire security details left him to go to a mama put (restaurant) to eat. Several prominent politicians were also assassinated. Across the 36 states many incidents of political assassination have happened. The police is so professionally incompetent that the assassins walk free without being arrested.

Even a human rights activist in the mould of Shehu Sani did a whole book, which he titled: Political Assassination in Nigeria. Sani, who is now a senator representing Kaduna Central, has the following words of wisdom to describe how Nigerians handle cases of assassination with unpardonable levity.

Political assassinations in Nigeria have become a reccurring decimal with no relief, remedy or end in sight.”

A man or a woman, he narrated, is brutally murdered. The next day, the headlines read: “A National outrage and general condemnation follows...”

Terminologies like ‘A National Tragedy’, ‘A Monumental Loss’, ‘A Callous Act’, ‘A Barbaric Act’ abound. The police rust to apprehend suspects, but most often find scapegoats. The families grieve helplessly and the ‘nation mourns’. Then visits by prominent and public office-holders ensue. A clear case of pervasive insecurity and failure of the state is soon deflected to hopeless general lamentation by the citizens and the leaders. Everyone condemns the murder; everyone is concerned and, so, no one is responsible.

A life is terminated; the media blow harder and speculate. The security personnel cordons off the victim’s home and office while friends, associates and even relations are detained by the police.

"When asked about possible clues, the usual answer is ‘investigation is ongoing’ or ‘suspects are making useful statements’. This comes after such platitudes as ‘we will fish out the perpetrators of this horrible and cowardly act. The number of mourners on visit to the deceased begin to reduce gradually. The press interest also wanes as the cover story becomes the sub-cover, then it becomes an ‘inside’ story. "Then it is placed next to the sports page after which it becomes stale news.”

Shehu Sani lamented that typically suspects or scapegoats in assassination related cases are released piecemeal, as clear evidence of their innocence emerges.

"When the press discovers that all the suspects were releases and report it, the police move to the second phase of the investigation. Petty criminals in the neighborhood or hardened armed robbers long in detention, even before the murder, now assume the theatrical role of the assassins.”

Sani wrote further on how assassination cases are never properly probed, but muddled up by the Police.

They are handcuffed in the glare of a massive media event and paraded as ‘The Killers’. Then they are arraigned in court to ‘face justice’. The court usually frees them when the prosecution cannot prove that the pickpockets and armed robbers arraigned are not the assassins. A new investigation is initiated to console the families, appease the citizenry and save face. Then nothing happens until another assassination and the cycle begins once again.”

He continued to narrate the dramatic scenarios of Police incompetence and compromise thus: “Successive Nigerian governments and their security agencies have found it easier and more comfortable to apprehend editors of newspapers, human rights activists, labour leaders, intellectuals, student union leaders and opposition politicians, than uncover and apprehend hired assassins or a group of murderers and their sponsors.”

The fact that Malaysia has risen to the demand of the moment and have gone very far in rounding up all the main suspects, and the efficiency of the investigation coupled with the state-of-the-art crime investigation architecture of Malaysia, should be a pointer for Nigeria to update our security architecture so that cases of assassinations are scientifically probed and suspects apprehended, prosecuted and punished.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via

Source: News Express

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