Obasanjo Narrates How Ribadu’s Threat to Arrest Tafa Balogun in Aso Rock Led to Ex-IG’s Sack

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Segun James

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday night went down the memory lane to shed light on circumstances surrounding the removal of former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun from office.  Now 12 years after Obasanjo forced Balogun to tender his resignation letter as police chief, the former president disclosed that a threat by former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to arrest Balogun during an encounter at the presidential villa made him to demand his immediate resignation.

Speaking on the allegations against Balogun, he said two independent security reports indicted the former police chief of massive corruption unbecoming of anyone in that position.

Obasanjo said, a first report by the State Security Service (SSS) had shown that Balogun was involved in corruption.

The former president, who spoke at the 80th birthday dinner organised in his honour by his former appointees under the aegis of the, “Political Children of Obasanjo” in Lagos, said he was so alarmed that he called the police chief to the State House and warned him about the indicting reports of his activities but not surprisingly, Balogun denied it and continued in his ways. The former leader added that, few months later, another report, this time by the EFCC not only detailed the corrupt activities of the former IG but also revealed that he continued unabated in the fraud, without any form of care.

“I called him and said, Tafa, why do you have to destroy your name and career even though you will forever enjoy your privilege and salary as a former IGP for life?”

Obasanjo  revealed that,  on a particular day, Balogun was at the Aso Villa to see him and the chairman of the EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, was around and threatened to arrest him. He said that was when he (Obasanjo) decided to ask for the former IG’s resignation, effective immediately. While he asked the EFCC not to arrest him in the Villa, Ribadu threatened to arrest Balogun outside the presidential mansion, the former president added.

According to him, it was at this point he asked Balogun to immediately tender his resignation or be fired. “I had a hunch that Nuhu may leak the report to the press as he was close to them. I immediately called Balogun to give his letter of resignation. I told him if I don’t get the letter in 30 minutes, I will dismiss you.”

Obasanjo, who was so happy to see the gathering of his former “boys”, asked everyone to be less formal and have fun as the gathering was a reunion of some sort and an opportunity to reminisce on old times.

He asked those who he stepped on their toes while working with them to tell him, so that he could promptly apologise, if it  was true, but if not, he said,“I will step on it further and even hard.”

The former president, who was full of praises for his ‘political children’ which included Akin Osuntokun, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Tonye Cole, Nuhu Ribadu, Uba Sani, Osita Chidoka, former governor of Osun State, Prince Oyinlola Olagunsoye; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Senator Kola Bajomo, and former Head of Service, Malam Yayale Ahmed, among others, said  he was proud of them and was also  proud to call them his political children.

Uba Sani, who eulogised Obasanjo for being  the most detribalised leader that the country has ever had,  noted that he  never surrounded himself with people from his ethnic nationality like other leaders do. Sani, however, stated that Obasanjo was  equally the most misunderstood leader even though he ended up being the most constructive Nigerian leader ever.

Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Doyin Okupe disclosed that at every opportunity, Obasanjo is always having good intention for the country. He, however, pointed out  that even though the former president was the oldest member of his team, he was the most energetic even as the younger men were struggling to meet up with his schedules.

An enthusiastic Okupe told the former president: “History is going to be positive on you for what you have done for Nigeria and Africa.”

Also speaking, Ribadu admitted that whatever he achieved was possible because of Obasanjo’s support. “I would not have been what I am today without Baba,” he stressed.

He stated that the gathering was to thank Obasanjo for what he had done for his “children”, while also pledging continued loyalty to him.