The trial and times of Tafa Balogun, Nigeria’s 21st Inspector General of Police

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In December 2005, rumors spread that Tafa Balogun, who was serving a six-month sentence in Kuje prison, had died in custody.

A month earlier, Mr. Balogun had pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft and money laundering and was sent to prison, after the judge ordered him to repay N4 million to the Nigerian government.

Although Balogun reportedly fell ill during the trial, the rumors turned out to be false.

But on the night of August 4, Balogun succumbed to the cold hands of death in a Lagos hospital after an illness.

President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Mr. Balogun as Inspector General of Police in 2002, but allegations of corruption dogged his tenure, leading to his dismissal in 2004.

Profile

Mustapha Balogun was born on August 8, 1947 in Ila-Orangun, in Osun state, southwestern Nigeria.

He attended the University of Lagos, graduating in 1972 with a BA in Political Science, and then joined the Nigerian Police Force in May 1973. He was a member of the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Course 3 cadet.

While a police officer, he obtained a law degree from the University of Ibadan. After working in various positions across the country, he became the Principal Staff Officer for former Inspector General of Police, Muhammadu Gambo.

From Principal Staff Officer, he became Deputy Commissioner of Police in Edo State. He was appointed as the first Police Commissioner in Delta State and also served as Police Commissioner in Abia State.

He was later appointed Deputy Inspector General of Police at AIG Zone One Kano. He held the post until he was promoted to Inspector General of Police on March 6, 2002, succeeding Musiliu Smith.

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His appointment as Inspector General of Police made him the 21st Inspector General of Police.

His time as police chief.

He was responsible for general police security during the April 2003 national elections, which were marred by allegations of police abuse.

During its time as IGP, the police arrested 19,135 robbery suspects, 6,815 were killed, 12,006 firearms and 472,020 ammunition were recovered, while 2,148 stolen vehicles were also recovered.

During the period, around 172 police officers were killed in operations, while 151 were injured.

More than 170,000 police officers were promoted between 2002 and 2004, the highest number since the establishment of the Nigerian Police Force.

He also assured that more than 147,347 officers attended various courses at the local level while he was in charge of police affairs.

Balogun fired more than 1,200 police officers for various acts bordering on official corruption during his three-year term.

his judgment

On April 4, 2005, Mr. Balogun was indicted in the Abuja Federal High Court for the theft and laundering of more than $100 million from Police treasury during his three years as Inspector General of Police.

His trial was full of drama. On a court day in June 2005, Mr. Balogun, barefoot, collapsed on his seat. He was taken from the courtroom and taken away in a sport utility vehicle.

The former police chief also tasted a dose of police brutality from his former subordinates.

Tunji Abayomi, his lawyer, told the court that his client “was kicked, pushed, shaken and then forced into the car” by EFCC officers.

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Balogun himself told the judge that he was being persecuted and not prosecuted.

“I have a broken leg because of the way they took me out by force, against their order,” he said.

“I must have also had a lot of internal bleeding, internal injuries because I was thrown out of the vehicle. I don’t deserve this kind of abuse if the situation were normal.”

Balogun eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced in November 2005.

He was released on February 9, 2006, after serving his sentence; he spent part of it at the Abuja National Hospital.

He became the first Inspector General of Police in Nigeria to serve a prison sentence.

Obasanjo’s involvement

Political analysts at the time believed that the president might have intervened in Balogun’s case and provided him with a soft landing.

However, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo’s press secretary, told PREMIUM TIMES that his director had no interest in the case.

“He (Obasanjo) has no involvement in the case,” Akinyemi told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.

“They (Balogun) were tried and found guilty and sentenced. Obasanjo’s involvement was just to make sure it’s true and that the defendant will serve the prison term.”

Buhari, Oyetola cry

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by the president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, expressed his condolences to the family, friends and associates of the former IGP.

“He is also in mourning with the Nigerian Police Force, an institution Balogun served for most of his life,” Adesina wrote.

“The President recalls that Tafa Balogun, during his tenure as IGP, did everything possible to ensure that the police carried out their statutory responsibilities under a democratic distribution; and his penchant for boosting the morale of Force officers and soldiers has been recognized by those who served under him.

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“President Buhari’s thoughts are with the family, government and people of Osun State, as well as the colleagues and former colleagues of the late police chief.

“Pray for the peaceful rest of the soul of the deceased.”

Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State also expressed his sorrow at the passing of the former Inspector General of Police.

Ismail Omipidan, the governor’s chief press secretary, said in a statement Friday that the former police chief contributed immensely to the country’s security.

“The late retired police officer contributed greatly to the security of the nation during his years of meritorious service in the Force, including when he served as an IGP between 2002 and 2005.

“”On behalf of the government and the good people of Osun, I join family, friends, the Nigeria Police and the people of Ila-Orangun in mourning the death of retired Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun.

“I pray to Almighty God to overlook his shortcomings, admit him to Aljanah and grant his family and loved ones the strength to bear his death.”

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