Femi Ajayi's Outlook

What about those criminals who are walking free on the Nigerian streets. Dele Giwa was slaughtered like a cow, Bola Ige took the pill, and the culprits' contested and won elections, Commission upon Commission found them connected with these cases, sadly, Obasanjo is looking the other way.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Dr. Femi Ajayi


he treatment meted to the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun is inhuman, barbaric, and uncivilized. Period! The man was bundled into a law enforcement van, in an unsecured door of the van, dropped off Tafa Balogun from the vehicle as a result of the high speed of the vehicle within the Court premises, the vehicle stopped, ran over his right leg, dragged Tafa Balogun on the bare ground by the Securities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. If that was not enough, he was publicly and thoroughly beaten, like an animal in the open market place with no iota of respect for humanity.

Tafa Balogun in the hospital (According to ThisDay)

This happened at the Abuja High Court premises on Wednesday June 29, 2005. His subordinates gave him a dose of Police Brutality that Nigerians have been complaining about, and Balogun was literally bundled into the waiting car "with number plate AG 256 YAB", and sped away. This is not funny at all, in any civilized community. It is uncalled for.

According to the eye witness account, the EFCC security dragged Balogun into the car; the car suddenly sped off and headed towards the gate only to meet a brick wall as the court gatemen tried to lock the gate against them. Without the knowledge of the driver, the car's tire climbed over Balogun's right leg. At this juncture, the security men aboard the EFCC's car asked the driver to stop while they tried to force Balogun back into the car. Balogun whose cap and shoes had fallen off refused to enter the car as he lay on the bare ground. He was dragged on the ground for a few seconds before he was overpowered and bundled back into the car. The car eventually sped off. What a cop!

Sympathizers present could not hold their anger and started shouting in Yoruba,

"Se e fe paa ni, Se e fe paa ni?" "Do you want to kill him? Do you want to kill him?" "e beru Olorun. Kini Tafa se te fe paa. Eniyan bii ti yin," meaning: "What has Tafa done that you people wanted to kill him. Remember he is a human being like you"
Shortly after he was driven away, his relations could not hold back tears on how Tafa was jostled. They gathered in groups, some crying, some weeping, while others were howling with their hands folded on their heads.

What led to this mle was after the court ruled that Tafa would face a second trial on corruption charges. Tafa Balogun was brought before Justice Salisu Garba of the Abuja High Court and ruled in favor of the EFCC that Balogun would face 92 charges of corruption in a second trial on July 23, 2005. Balogun's defence lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, was on the argument that Tafa should be tried once and not twice as requested by EFCC. How can you try an individual twice for the same offence? That could be considered double jeopardy and a slap on the face of the Nigerian legal system and to all credible Nigerian lawyers.

Tafa Balogun is accused of stealing and laundering over $100 million in his three years as Inspector General of Police from the Police treasury. On Wednesday, Abuja Court ruled that Tafa would face a second trial to cover further charges.

When Justice Salisu was informed of the inhuman treatment on Tafa Balogun in his court premises, he ordered for Tafa Balogun be brought back to the Court. Regrettably, the EFCC security operatives refused to obey the Court and drove Tafa Balogun away from the Court premises. When they finally brought him back, Tafa Balogun painstakingly made his way into the courtroom, the left side of his trousers was rolled up, he lost his shoes, his clothes ruffled and stained, his neatly starched cap gone, and limping on his left leg, broken when the EFCC vehicle ran over his leg.

Back in the court his lawyer remarked that

"As I saw him fall out of the car at the gate of the court, I was aghast and shocked. In their hurry to take him away, the security operatives forgot to close the door of the car. I noticed that my client was kicked at, pushed about, ruffled and then forced into the car. My client (Balogun) was injured right here in my lord's court, not outside, which shows there is total disregard for the court. Before, he was chained, hand-cuffed, but I give guarantee that at any time, my lord, he would be in this court, he will not be safe in their custody. For his security and safety, I urge my lordship to vary the order earlier made so that this court will not be embarrassed in future,"
What a shocking in human treatment!

Tafa Balogun was allowed to speak about this ill treatment:

"My Lord, I think I should be given an opportunity to talk because I am the victim of the matter, this is like a fact-finding session that is why I request that you give me the opportunity to be heard because you want to know the truth. The bottomline is that I have always come before my Lord. You can now see the manifestation of personal vendetta in this affair; it is not prosecution but persecution which started long ago. I am not safe in the hands of these people (EFCC) and I want to say from the beginning there have been threats and threats to my life. Even before the experience of today, there were threats from the prosecution that I will be in prison custody even before the trial can commence. So, the case of conviction before trial is before your lordship. I have a broken leg because of the forceful manner in which they took me away, contrary to your order. I must have also sustained a lot of internal bleeding, internal injury because I was thrown off from the vehicle. I don't deserve this type of maltreatment if the situation was normal. I have served this country as Inspector-General of Police creditably well. I have respected the court and have been attending the court. You can see that despite all these, you can see what they want to do to my life. I seek your merciful cover under your lordship".
What a plea!

In defending the EFCC action its lead lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs stated:

"I admit our own portion that we should have been tidier in the way we handled him. We should have waited till the end of the court session, but it was when the accused's counsel tried to whisk him (Balogun) from the securitymen that what happened, happened. They even threatened to deal with me, but I know my life is in the hands of God. I admit we should have waited till the end of the court session before they can whisk him away and I apologise. I am very sorry about the way the whole thing happened. I am not a prosecutor. I am also interested in his life. There are no hidden agenda in the whole thing and I am not privy to threat to his life. I accept that the accused person can go for medical treatment. It was the approach of the defence that caused all these. He was too militant. The accused is like a father and an uncle to me."
Jacobs denied asking the security operatives to take Balogun away.

The lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob's apology notwithstanding, he turned around to blame it on the attitude of Dr. Abayomi whom he accused of displaying "militant attitude" in the defence." He went on,

"If this matter were to be handled according to tradition of the Bar which I met, this matter would not have degenerated. Assuming the accused was to be whisked away, the lead counsel, Dr Abayomi, should have met the prosecution or the court to complain. Rather, he was struggling with them. We should have used the tradition of the Bar to settle the problem. And to show that the lawyers on his side have joined him, some of them were threatening me that they would deal with me. I know that my life is in the hands of God."
Nigerian leaders would always find someone to blame at their shortcomings. One time they would blame the colonial masters that have left Nigeria shores for decades; blame the Foreign Big Corporations for escalating corrupt practices in Nigeria; they might even blame God for creating Nigerians.

Reacting to the incident, Justice Salisu said: "I strongly condemn the action of the prosecution. It is barbaric". As the judge was writing his ruling, Balogun collapsed on his seat in the court room. According to the report, at exactly 12.16 p.m, Wednesday, June 29, 2005,

"Tafa Balogun collapsed from his seat at the Abuja High Court, Wuse, gritting his teeth, clenching his fist and in pains before he went stiff. Although his eyes were closed, he was observed breathing spasmodically. At exactly 12.17.45seconds, about a dozen sympathisers including his wailing relations surrounded the bare-footed former police boss and carried him out of the not-too-spacious courtroom of Justice Salishu Garba of the Abuja High Court into a waiting ash-colour jeep with number plate AA 611 DAV."
This incident kept me sleepless Thursday night, June 30, 2005, when I read about this piece.

Further hearing on the matter has been adjourned till July 13, 2005. Nigerians are waiting how the Judge is going to handle this incident that occurred in his Court premises. Some Nigerian policy players could be mentally derailed sometimes. Some of them need serious "Anger Control" training.

Often time than not, Nigerians have talked about, and experienced Police brutality in Nigeria, and the Federal Government seems not to care about the Nigerian Police brutality, even to innocent citizens. I witnessed some of these brutal behaviors of the Nigerian Police in December 2002. A Policeman was making unnecessary traffic stops at a roundabout in Ilorin. A taxi driver slowed down to obey the Policeman. When he realized that he was going to be whipped by the Policeman he sped off. Instead, the Policeman used his leg and broke the side mirror of the taxi. What a Police officer! Such happens all over the country without any meaningful control by the Government over 'Police Brutality'.

The way Obasanjo's administration is handling the fight against corruption needs a complete overhaul. It has to be redefined and approached in a more civilized manner so as not to defeat his purpose of anti-graft. When you take a closer look at it, Obasanjo might have, instinctively endorsed Police brutality in his administration. Nigerians would remember Obasanjo's brawl with a Police officer at Lokoja, in 1999. At that time Obasanjo seized a whip from a Police Officer, lied him down on the ground, and publicly gave him some meticulous whipping. From that point on Nigerian Police thought it was right for them to be inhuman to innocent Nigerians. Unfortunately, Tafa Balogun inherited Police brutality and did nothing about it, at least to the best of our knowledge.

What has Tafa done to deserve the inhumane treatment he received from the EFCC law enforcement? He was handcuffed into the court room, partly to humiliate him. Since his arrest he has been detained with no bail. Is this a way of fighting corruption in a civilized society?

Nigerian Law enforcements could be hypocritical sometimes. This man, Tafa Balogun, was accused of 'stealing' from the public treasury. He is still under trial, not being granted bail, in a 'civilized' country like Nigeria, still using the "Stone Age" justice. Unfortunately Justice Mohammed Uwais, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), was publicly accused of taking bribes to favor cases, and still sitting over cases, at the Nigerian Supreme Court. Could Tafa Balogun be treated better than an animal? If we may ask Obasanjo, is this part of his image promotion for Nigeria?

Regardless whom Obasanjo's administration is trying to please, this is not how to promote Nigerian Image. It is equally wrong to treat an accused person like an animal. How many of the Nigerian leaders are saints or free from 'stealing' from the public treasury, regardless how little. My people always say that "Bi aba nsokun ama nriran ni" Meaning "the tears in our eyes should not prevent us from seeing." Would Obasanjo sell Nigeria image for a pot of porridge so that Nigeria creditors could forgive the country of its debts? The debts that Nigerian leaders brought over to the country! Paying for the loan that ended up in individuals wallet and they are walking around the streets without any one asking them where they got their money from.

Ironically, some brain-dead Nigerians are asking them to come back and govern Nigeria again. There was an Oputa Commission, some Military Generals bluntly REFUSED to appear before the Commission and nothing happened to them. They were indicted by the reports, nothing is done about it; Ige was brutally murdered in his private home, and Obasanjo remain in Aso Rock, that "he de kampe', and '419ing' to go for the third term in 2007.

Is Tafa Balogun a criminal? What about those criminals who are walking free on the Nigerian streets. Dele Giwa was slaughtered like a cow, Bola Ige took the pill, and the culprits' contested and won elections, Commission upon Commission found them connected with these cases, sadly, Obasanjo is looking the other way.

The religious leaders are busy 'rejoicing' over the loots with 10% given to their establishments, without asking or caring where the dirty money came from.

What has Tafa Balogun done that those in the corridors of power have not done? This is no justice. Those involved in this case should be tried. Nigeria Police should stop this barbaric approach in their public services. The Nigerian Police should be humane and do what is right within the contents of Nigerian society, and not pleasing any one in the name of fighting corruption. This is too much for a human being to take. This man served Nigeria diligently during his time. He did what others are doing, but got caught. EFCC needs some modern guidelines in the conduct of its assignments; otherwise its purpose would be defeated.

Tafa Balogun, even though accused of corruption, should be treated better that what happened to him on Wednesday, June 29, 2005. We are all human.