Handcuffing White-Collar Corruption In Nigeria


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Handcuffing White-Collar Corruption in Nigeria




Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD

Burtonsville, MD, USA



Saturday, April 9, 2005







Recently, a cut-off picture has been circulating around the world of  a pair of handcuffs on a pair of hands surrounding by resplendent blue cloth: 



They are the hands of Nigeria’s former Inspector-General of Police Tafa Balogun:



when he was taken to court recently to begin to answer to 70-count charges over fraudulent money totaling N13 billion ($100 million).




A lot has since been made of the “humiliation” that a WHOLE former IG faced for such a “poor treatment”, with facts revealed that Balogun was wrestled and overcome by 20 EFCC officials before they could put on the manacles.  In fact,  EFCC Chairman has since apologized for the action, apparently egged on to do so by the over-involved President Obasanjo himself after complaints by Balogun’s many relatives, acolytes and miscellaneous others for whom he is possibly a generous benefactor.


Well, well, personally, I would not have liked to see Balogun in handcuffs if he were a relative of mine. However,  I think that Balogun, as a former top cop,  should have known better not to resist "arrest by handcuffing".  Nevertheless,  I rise to affirm that for white collar crimes,


(1)       handcuffs are known to be a superb PSYCHOLOGICAL deterrent, next to

(2)       long jail terms and heavy fines for the offences themselves, followed by

(3)       long-term after-jail bans from public office.


I will deal only with the first deterrent here, assuming that we are all agreed that  these multi-million naira pen-robbery crimes, like armed robbery, should invite long jail terms, and that their perpetrators should not be allowed near or “smell” public office again where they could become repeat offenders.





Handcuffs are used on criminal defendants – and occasionally on civil defendants – for three main reasons:


(1)       to prevent the accused from escaping, if he or she is a serious flight risk;


(2)      to restrain violent (or potentially violent) defendants in the dock; and


(3)       to visually demonstrate to the world in spectacular form, and particularly via the media, “prosecutorial resolve” in high-profile cases.


I do not think that the handcuffing of Balogun was because he was a flight risk, but rather an attempt by EFCC’s Ribadu to demonstrate “prosecutorial resolve”, that is that it meant business.  That Balogun demonstrated “violent opposition” to being shackled can be regarded as a posteriori justification – but let us pass on that one.


In fact, this prosecutorial resolve reason was given by the Enron prosecutors when defendants like one-time Enron Chairmen/CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling and Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow  (for fraud, money laundering, and conspiring to inflate the company's profits and enrich themselves at their company's expense) were paraded in handcuffs before the media.  I also did see William Keating (of the 1979/1980 Savings and Loans scandal, which triggered a $2.5 billion taxpayer-financed bailout); or WorldCom’s CEO Bernard J. Ebbers ($11 billion accounting scandal) in handcuffs !   Or what about some  cable TV chiefs or that  junk-bond crook Ivan Boesky:





Handcuff parade for cable TV chiefs on fraud charges


Efforts to restore confidence in Wall Street continued yesterday with the high profile arrest of five former executives of Adelphia Communications, who were accused of treating the bankrupt business like a "personal piggy bank".


The company's founder, John Rigas, and his two sons Timothy and Michael were paraded in front of television cameras in handcuffs as they were taken to a New York federal court. The US government, facing mid-term elections in November, and financial watchdogs are desperate to show they are cracking down on the corporate scandals that have shocked America……..




Enter Guilliani, With Handcuffs


..But the first indictment Giuliani announced, three days into his run as U.S. attorney, was of two Dean Witter brokers in an $80 million scheme, and it foreshadowed the emblematic prosecutions of his term. In the fall of 1983, junk bonds made their debut, and financial-world figures were well on their way to celebritization—Saul Steinberg’s birthday party! John Gutfreund’s multi-million-dollar apartment renovation! But the narrative needed a dramatic counterbalance, the gaudy excesses answered by some good old Roman Catholic guilt. Enter Rudy, with handcuffs. The deterrent effect of arresting brokers on their trading floors or locking up Ivan Boesky may have been short. But Giuliani’s years as .S. attorney left a permanent cultural mark: He turned stock-market malfeasance into modern media spectacle…….







Granted that the above are for private sector fraud:  what about public officers?  Mayors and other public officials in Washington DC (eg. Mayor Marion Barry and his drug escapades), Hoboken NJ and more recently in York PA/SPAN> and New Orleans LA here in the US have all been in handcuffs:




Mayor, resign

Thursday, May 17, 2001


“Murder is the charge.”


Charlie Robertson spoke those words Wednesday, standing in front of City Hall. He would be the fifth man arrested in connection with the 1969 murder of Lillie Belle Allen.


Thursday, he ducked into a police car with handcuffs wrapped around his wrists while print and broadcast news outlets from all over the country captured it.


Accuse the media, the district attorney, the mayor, the gangs, the riots or racism for the spotlight on York now, but one thing is crystal clear: The mayor’s story isn’t going to have a happy ending. He has been damaged beyond repair.


And for that reason, Charlie Robertson needs to resign his position as mayor of York…………………




Charges aside, credit for Russo

Ex-mayor revived waterfront, many agree


Saturday, September 27, 2003





HOBOKEN - A day after former mayor Anthony Russo appeared in handcuffs before a federal magistrate in Newark on bribery and extortion charges, those who know the colorful and at times domineering political personality expressed a range of emotions at what seems to be the final chapter in a long and unpredictable career......




Mayor Ray Nagin and the  City of New Orleans


After less than six months in office Mayor Nagin has started doing what no one has done in years, clean up the corruption in City Government. Yesterday in a move that has been unheard of in New Orleans, Brake-tag stations were shut down, dozens of city employees and cabdrivers were arrested, and a high-ranking bureaucrat was fired Monday as Mayor Ray Nagin launched a sweeping crack-down on alleged government corruption, one that is expected to stretch well beyond the Taxicab Bureau and inspection stations initially targeted.


The Utilities Department director was dismissed and escorted out of her office Monday, and the deputy director of the department and head of the Taxicab Bureau, was fired and escorted out of City Hall in handcuffs……




If you don't like US examples, what about China ?  Perhaps the most effective use of handcuffs is there:





Suzhou vice-mayor suspected in bribery case


….A series of systems and regulations have been mapped out to intensify the endeavor.


The 12 years of efforts have paid off, with a large number of corrupt officials led away in handcuffs.


According to a latest statistics from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, more than 42,000 state employees -- including 2,856 officials above county level -- were found to be involved in 36,509 cases of graft, dereliction of duty and other crimes investigated in the first 11 months of last year……









See what I mean ?  Handcuffing white collar accused persons tells the world that you mean business, period.


So if we are serious about combating white-collar crime in Nigeria, by all means let us use handcuffs to deter those who might be considering being accused of 1-, 2- count charges,  not to talk of 70-count charges.  No one likes being seen in handcuffs – and by the way, they do not presume guilt - but that might make them think twice.  Osuji and Osomo are not in handcuffs yet, and see how they seem to have seriously regretted what they led themselves into.  Wabara is still in denial despite all the overwhelming evidence against him, including he himself returning N55 million personally to Ribadu:  for what, one might ask?  Maybe the threat of handcuffs n broad daylight in a week or two will convince him otherwise?


All we should do is plead that the handcuffing should demonstrate federal and gender character, and that the handcuffs should not be too tight on their hands.  That would be palpably unfair.


Best wishes all.




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