Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
The Tafa in Us All
January 26, 2005
Nigeria is a funny country. Its government is impulsive. It’s citizenry dramatic. Nothing illustrates this than Tafa Balogun’s case. The former Inspector General of Police had resigned amidst suspicion. The EFCC had laid a complaint against him. The media is awashed with speculations and intimidating indictments against him. The government he served maintained sealed lips and the melodrama continues.
I had never been a fan of Chief Tafa Balogun, infact I had written previously about the need to remove him from office due to the prevalent insecurities in the country. But when Tafa’s case assumed a star and celebrity of organized financial crime courtesy of Nigeria media, I had cause to fear that it is drama taken too far. Despite the damning allegations, his is just like a sift chick of a lay goose in crime. Before Tafa there were instances more gruesome that suppose to hurt us as a nation till date. Tafa is just a fresh graduate of an old school. The idea of comparing Tafa’s bulkiness to the quantity of theft he was accused of, looks demented and an aimed target at a predetermined victim. Even without immunity a certain Julius Makanjoula had pilfered state’s accounts to the tune of N480m. and is cooling his feet elsewhere. The national I.D. Card scam had been a nightmare of a sort in terms of reaching to the crux of the matter.
Governor Orji Uzor Kalu had once petitioned the President on the funds mismanaged for construction and rehabilitation of roads under the tenure of Chief Tony Anenih as Minister of works without any response from Government. There were cases of fund misappropriation in power and steel ministry alleged in the first tenure of the administration that has gone to the dustbins. Even the Ibrahim Ayagi’s National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) had highlighted gross cases of pilfering in its report as early as 2001 barely only two years of the inception of the present democratic process. At the states the story is a gory images of open theft and professionalism in the art of diversion of public funds for personal enrichments.
A certain unfortunate Governor (Dariye) whom the Government aimed and listed his crime as dishonestly misappropriating the N1,161,162,900. By directing the All states Trust Bank Plc to disburse in the following manner: N250,000,000 to pinnacle communications Limited, N550, 000, 000 to Plateau state Government, N80,000,000 to Union Homes, N100,000,000 to PDP South west, N160,000.000 to Ebenezer Retnan ventures owned by Chief Joshua Dariye and N4, 300, 000 to C.O.T had boasted that he is a saint amongst his colleagues. In a BBC Hausa service interview, Dariye said that he came to power as an accomplished rich man nut knew of some of his colleagues that came to Government House with nothing but now have every thing in financial terms. He dared the Government of the day that all of them are living in glass houses and hence, should not throw stones at each other. I know Chief Dariye as an educated person, so he knew exactly what he is up to by making the statement.
In Anambra State it is an open fight between ‘two armed robbers’ to borrow from President Obasanjo’s words, which is a direct off- shoot of the wide scale irregularities that marred the 2003 elections but the state has been allowed to remain in its criminally – intact situation. There were several others like Ibori case, Wabara versus Imo case, El- Rufai versus Mantu and Zwingina case etc that are issues underplayed under suspicious grounds. In most cases when searchlights are beamed veraciously it is on perceived political enemies.
Back to Tafa Balogun’s case; the erstwhile Inspector General of Police was alleged to own a N 1.2 billion account at the Abuja Branch of Fountain Trust Bank Plc, multibillion naira castles in Abuja and United Kingdom, billion naira shares in banks and more than $450 million in foreign accounts etc. No doubt these revelations are alarming but why are we behaving as the proverbial lizard that only becomes hungry when it sees a fly?. Tafa’s case is just one out of millions. To say that Tafa is the only sinner that had embezzled our collective inheritance is also to take a further step to challenge the litany of the current and the past Government officials during the present democratic experience to cast a die by stoning Tafa as punishment for his alleged sins. Even Tafa himself knew that Nigerians are not serious. In an interview he granted he alleged that the stories flying round about his alleged fraudulent acts are nothing but cheap blackmail. Said Tafa “ I know nothing about all the stories flying around, its all blackmail. I’m on leave and I ‘m happy to have been given the opportunity to serve”. He knew the government he served is impulsive and the citizen are susceptible to a drama of tale – telling. Just like, Dariye, Tafa had through his lawyer, Mr. Tunji Abayomi denied all the allegations of corrupt enrichment leveled against him. According to him “ nobody, not even the EFCC has contacted my client over the issue”. How ridiculous. Abayomi also correlated Dariye’s earlier point of argument by saying “ there is no crime in being wealthy. A man can legitimately acquire wealth. So what they should do is to establish if he acquired his wealth through illegal or dubious means.” If it is true that the EFCC had not contacted Tafa then why are we in a hurry to declare the man as guilty as charged in the public realm? Many Nigerians had earlier cried foul over Tafa Balogun’s Operation Fire for Fire innovation in the police force in which both the innocent and the guilty were shot at the instance of the former I.G .
The Nigerians blamed the approach as arbitrary and hasty in conduct, so why will the same Nigerians condemn Tafa as guilty when even the charges are not leveled officially. It seems there is a Tafa in all of us. The former I.G deserves some respect, please.
Mamza writes from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
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