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Tafa Balogun retires as IG

Posted by From Martins Oloja (Abuja) and Adeolu Durotoye (Canada) on 2005/01/18 | Views: 492 |

Tafa Balogun retires as IG


IT came as a rude shock last night when the government's statement arrived, saying that the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Adebayo Balogun, had given notice of retirement with effect from March 6, 2005. He is to proceed on a terminal leave from today.




  • Ehindero is acting Inspector-General


  • Balogun opposes state police

IT came as a rude shock last night when the government's statement arrived, saying that the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Adebayo Balogun, had given notice of retirement with effect from March 6, 2005. He is to proceed on a terminal leave from today.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has already accepted his retirement notice and expressed appreciation for the Inspector General's service to the nation.

The President has also approved the appointment of Deputy Inspector-General Sunday Ehindero as the acting IG.

A statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, yesterday said that Ehindero's appointment takes effect from today.

Ehindero, a Bachelor's Degree holder in Mathematics, is like Balogun, a lawyer. He was in Jos, Plateau State yesterday when the appointment was announced.

In a telephone interview with The Guardian last night, Ehindero said: "I am surprised by the development. I cannot talk now. I am trying to return to Abuja where I hope to assess the situation."
Balogun was born on August 25, 1947 in Ila-Orangun in Osun State. He is a 1971 graduate of Political Science from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and possesses a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan. In 1989, he graduated at UNILAG again, with a Second Class degree, Upper Division in Law and finished from the Law School in 1990.

He was appointed Cadet Assistant Superintendent on May 1, 1973, Deputy Superintendent (1977) and Superintendent in 1979. Balogun became Chief Superintendent in 1983, Assistant Commissioner (1987), Deputy Commissioner (1990) and Commissioner in 1991. In 1999, he became an Assistant Inspector-General, Zone 1 Kano and was appointed Inspector-General by President Olusegun Obasanjo on March 6, 2002.

Balogun's tenure will be remembered for many positive developments in the Nigeria Police Force, including massive recruitment drive, motivation of the men in uniform, checking indiscipline and arresting the spate of armed robbery as well other crimes.

Not a few people would however recall some cases of unresolved murders including that of the late Chief Aminasoari Dikibo, former vice chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

Of course, there is also the Anambra State political crisis in which the police is seen as a willing tool against the Chris Ngige Administration.
Recently, on a visit to Canada, Balogun spoke with The Guardian on sundry issues, including the calls for the creation of state police. To him, the call is a recipe for chaos and disunity.

Balogun stated that the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police would be a disservice to the unity of the country.

"Naturally, governors want state police because they want to put security agencies in their pockets. But do not forget that this phenomenon is not strange to Nigeria. We had it before in the past. We used to have regional police where the commissioner of police in that region was under the control of the premier of the region. What was the result? Those were the days the police were made an instrument of political oppression and recklessness and that led to a lot of pandemonium that brought down the First Republic. To sustain the unity of Nigeria, decentralisation of Police is not the answer," he said.

The IG was in Canada to attend the Association of Black Law Enforcers Conference. He was also given a distinction award by Diversity World Heritage during his trip.

The police boss further stated that Nigeria had become a safer place since he became the IG about two years ago, adding: "There are statistics showing crime wave has dropped although we have some isolated cases. That is not to suggest that crime wave has not dropped."
On the arrest of the kingpin of an armed robbery gang terrorising Nigeria from the neighbouring Republic of Benin, Balogun said: "For once, we have been able to stem the menace that has bedevilled Nigeria for many years - the menace of transnational crime. We had a situation whereby armed bandits do come from Republic of Benin to unleash terror, intimidation and injury, and theft in Nigeria, snatch cars at gun-point and carry these cars to the Republic of Benin knowing full well that it is difficult to penetrate into another country.

"We monitored the situation and we discovered that there has always been a kingpin in the Republic of Benin who has been masterminding terrorism and what have you in Nigeria. Luckily, at the political level and at the professional angle, we did what was necessary and we were able to arrest the mastermind of that act and after the arrest of the said kingpin, crime wave dropped drastically".

The IG also spoke on the alleged double standard of the police in the Anambra State saga, and the issue of political assassinations, among others. Excerpt.

Over two years since you became IG, what has it been like?
It has not been a bed of roses. It has been a very challenging assignment. As complex and as big as Nigeria is, it has certainly not been a joke but we thank God, we have been able to surmount the problem of crime, the problem of civil disobedience, the problem of insecurity and what have you and I think we have been able to make our mark.
Do you have statistics to back up this claim?
Certainly yes. There are statistics showing that crime wave has dropped although we have some isolated cases. That is not to suggest that crime wave has not dropped. For once, we have been able to stem the menace that has bedevilled Nigeria for many years - the menace of transnational crime.

We had a situation whereby armed bandits do come from neighbouring Republic of Benin to unleash tension, and terror, intimidation and injury, and theft on Nigeria, snatch cars at gun-point and carry these cars to Republic of Benin knowing full well that it is difficult to penetrate into another country. We monitored the situation and we discovered that there has always been a kingpin in Republic of Benin who has been masterminding terrorism and what have you in Nigeria. Luckily, at the political angle and at the professional angle, we did what was necessary and we were able to arrest the mastermind of that act and after the arrest of the said kingpin, crime wave dropped drastically.

The belief in certain quarters was that the so-called kingpin was only arrested after he made an attempt on the daughter of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Why was he not arrested before then?
We had set the machinery in motion long before then but note that the criminals also have a master plan and don't forget that under the international law, you cannot jump into another country and effect an arrest. You have to go the diplomatic angle and this takes time.

Recently, some state governors in Nigeria under the aegis of Governors of Southern States were clamouring for state police in Nigeria. What will you say about that?
Naturally governors want state police because they want to put security agencies in their pockets. But do not forget that this phenomenon is not strange to Nigeria. We had it before in the past. We used to have regional police where the commissioner of police in that region was under the control of the premier of the region. What was the result? Those were the days the police were made an instrument of political oppression and recklessness and that led to a lot of pandemonium that brought down the First Republic. To sustain the unity of Nigeria, the decentralisation of police is not the answer.

A keen observer of events in Nigeria will notice a kind of double standard on the part of the police in the case of Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State. For instance, the security apparatus of Ngige was removed by the police on the account of a court ruling against Ngige's election whereas when the election of Adamawa State governor was annulled by the election tribunal, his security was not removed.
We operate according to the law. We watched and studied the orders that were given by the courts. In the case of Adamawa State, it was just that the election tribunal nullified the results of some local governments, which suggested that the governor was not duly elected. There was no specific instruction that a particular act be done in connection to that. In the Anambra case, there was a specific directive by the court that the police should act in a specific way. The court said the police should take necessary steps in furtherance to the ruling that Ngige was not duly elected and after that High Court judgment, there was another judgment of Anambra Court but we needed a superior court to give directive. The case had been in Court of Appeal Enugu for up to 10 months. It was only recently that the court specifically directed that the police should reinstate the security of Ngige, and you can see that in a few hours, I directed that the security of the governor be reinstated.

Are you saying that the office of the IG is not tied to the apron string of the Presidency?
Just like any other government agency, the IG has a natural relationship with the presidency but we don't take unlawful directives from anywhere. No president will ask the police to act unlawfully.

Let's look at the Anambra saga again. The Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Raphael Ige played a role in the abduction of Ngige. What do you have to say about that?
The AIG had said it loud and clear, times without number that he had authority over his area and that is what we do. I give my officers sufficient authority to operate. The AIG said he had information that the life of the governor was in jeopardy and he had to act to protect the governor.

The recent arson and destruction of property in Anambra State, what did the police do about that?
We made a lot of arrests despite what people were saying that no arrests were made. We paraded the people on the television and people still continued to say that no arrests were made. That reminds me of what psychologists say that people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

May be people were expecting that Chris Uba himself, the kingpin of the anti-Ngige group should not be treated as a sacred cow. Why was Uba not arrested?
We don't just jump into conclusion in the force. Even where we have a rumour that somebody has done something, we look for a nexus that will link him to the commission of that crime. We don't just jump into conclusion otherwise you will be seeing a bandwagon of arrests that will lead us nowhere.

But Chris Uba confessed that he had a hand in the abduction of the governor, for instance.
Chris Uba never said he committed arson neither did he say he wanted to kill the governor. Chris Uba said he had political problems with the governor and don't forget that he was interrogated. We interrogated everybody that Chris Ngige, the governor, has mentioned.

Now, there have been a lot of political assassinations in Nigeria, and the police could not do anything about it.
That is not correct. In the past one year, there has been no political assassination in Nigeria, and even the so-called political assassination, look at the case of Harry Marshal, it was a case of armed robbery. He was supposed to collect N25 million that day. The robbers got information that he collected a cheque of N25 million but he never went to the bank that day to collect the money. Unfortunately, when they got to his house, he didn't have the money. These robbers have been arrested and we asked them specifically whether they were hired by anybody and they said no.

Are the police sufficiently equipped to deal with the different security related problems in Nigeria?
No police institution anywhere in the world can boast that it is sufficiently equipped to cope with the problem of the society. Don't forget that problems emanate from various sources. Even in developed America, the police cannot wake up and say we are sufficiently equipped to deal with all the problems. Why do we have crimes being committed every minute in the United States of America? Why did South Africa lead the international table of reported crimes for five consecutive years? That is not to suggest that we are ill-equipped. We can only hope for improvement. Government is doing its best in the circumstance especially when you have many competing interests, and I think we are doing our very best.`

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.