ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigeria's justice minister was shot and killed by one of several attackers who broke into his home in the southwestern city of Ibadan, government officials and family members said Monday.
Bola Ige was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, officials said. Ige died around 10 p.m. on Sunday evening after being shot once in the chest, according to Bose Ehindero, a relative of Ige who answered the phone at Ige's residence Monday morning.
A team of police bodyguards assigned to protect Ige had been away from their posts eating dinner when the murder occurred, Ehindero said.
The assailants burst in on Ige and his wife, Nigeria Court of Appeal Judge Tinuke Ige, in their bedroom and forced Tinuke to leave the room before shooting him, Ehindero said. Tinuke Ige, sensing her husband was in danger, had repeatedly pleaded with the attackers to spare his life, Ehindero added.
The motive behind the slaying was not clear, but the Lagos daily newspaper ThisDay speculated the killing could be linked to a violent political feud between the governor and his deputy in the southwestern Osun State.
Last week, Osun State legislator Odunayo Olagbaju, was bludgeoned to death outside his home sparking riots in the city of Ife, where at least five people were reported killed.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo canceled a planned visit to Zimbabwe and called an emergency Cabinet meeting.
Obasanjo's spokesman, Tunji Oseni, issued a short communique following the emergency Cabinet meeting, promising "no effort will be spared" to end what the president called Nigeria's "culture of violence in politics."
There was no sign of violence following Ige's death, although a heavy military and police presence was reported in the streets of Ige's home village, Isa-Oke, in Osun State. State television announced a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the state.
Ige, 71, was one of the most outspoken campaigners for democracy under Nigeria's former military rulers. He is also the founder of one of the West African country's three registered political parties, the Alliance for Democracy. Ige had been chosen to serve in 2002 on the prestigious 34-member United Nations international law commission.
Aside from his wife, Ige is survived by two sons and a daughter.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 120 million people, is regularly rocked by violent feuding along political, ethnic or religious lines.