By Ibe Pascal Arogorn

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time”.

“Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out”

Africans, especially Nigerians have taken it as tradition to eulogize people who passed away even the ones with woeful characters when alive.

My obituary story, yesterday, on the demise of Tafa Balogun, the former Inspector-General of Police was greeted with unpopular, emotional and biased condemnation from some Nigerians.

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

One month earlier, Mr Balogun had pleaded guilty to eight charges of stealing and money laundering and was sent to prison, after the judge ordered that he return N4 million to the Nigerian government.

He was responsible for overall police security during the April 2003 national elections, which were marred by reports of police abuses.

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

On 4th April 2005, Mr Balogun was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the stealing and laundering of over $100 million from the Police treasury in his three years as Inspector General of Police.

His trial was full of drama. On one trial day in June 2005, Mr Balogun, barefooted, collapsed in his seat. He was carried out of the courtroom and taken away in a Sports Utility Vehicle.

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

Tunji Abayomi, his lawyer, told the court that his client “was kicked at, pushed about, ruffled and then forced into the car” by EFCC operatives.

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

“I have a broken leg because of the forceful manner in which they took me away, contrary to your order,” he said.

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“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.”

Mr 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 National Hospital in Abuja.

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

In August 2020, Obasanjo reacting to the death of Buruji Kashamu, a former senator and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), described his death as a lesson for all mortals.

The former lawmaker, a controversial politician who for years was wanted by the United States government for alleged drug offences but managed to beat repeated extradition attempts, died in Lagos from coronavirus complications.

According to Obasanjo, “Senator Esho Jinadu (Buruji Kashmu) in his lifetime used the maneuver of law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria,” the former president said.

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“But no legal, political, cultural, social or even medical maneuver could stop the cold hands of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up. May Allah forgive his sin and accept his soul into Aljanah, and may God grant his family and friends fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” he wrote.

In Nigeria, at any funeral, Clergymen are always seen praising a dead person, you would think that every Nigerian who died is in heaven already, even people who took corruption as their profession, people with regrettable and questionable character when they are alive.

Should the story of evil people change when they passed on?

I think there’s wrong announcing the ugly deeds of people who lived in a bad way. It isn’t necessary for Nigerians to attach emotions to everything.

Let the biography of people always be real.

Ibe Pascal Arogorn, a journalist and writer, writes from Asaba, Delta State.

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