21.08.2021 Featured Before Abba Kyari, Five ‘Supercops’ Who Went from Hero to Villain

Published 21st Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele

On July 31, Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police, was suspended from the Nigeria Police Force pending the outcome of an investigation into his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States.

Kyari was named as a co-conspirator with Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, an Instagram celebrity, in a $1.1million fraud. Before his suspension, Kyari was a celebrated police officer who once headed the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos. However, Kyari is not the first celebrated cop to experience a change in fortune.


Fidelis Oyakhilome

Fidelis Oyakhilome was a celebrated Deputy Inspector General of Police when he was appointed the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in 1988.

However, Oyakhilome was dismissed three years later after being accused of having a relationship with Jennifer Madike, a Lagos businesswoman and socialite who had been arrested for drug-related offences. Madike was arrested after she allegedly collected $80,000 from three men, claiming she was going to give the money to Oyakhilome to secure the release of two suspected drug dealers.


Tafa Balogun

Tafa Balogun, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police between 2002 and 2004, was much applauded for launching Operation Fire For Fire, an initiative aimed at curbing the rate of armed robbery and other criminal activities in the country during his tenure.

However, Balogun resigned from office in 2004 over allegations of corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Balogun faced trial on an eight-count charge bordering on diversion and embezzlement of public funds.

In 2005, after pleading guilty to the charges levelled against him, he was sentenced to six months in prison by an Abuja high court. He had already spent 67 days in custody of the EFCC before the judgment.

Balogun was ordered to pay a fine of N500,000 on each of the eight charges against him. He was also ordered to forfeit all his assets, shares and landed properties acquired with the fund stolen from the police treasury. The assets totalled $150 million, including money stashed in banks, shares in blue-chip companies and 14 luxury buildings.

In the same year, Nuhu Ribadu would announce that the EFCC had recovered N17bn From Tafa Balogun.


Nuhu Ribadu

Nuhu Ribadu was the pioneer chairman of the EFCC, following his appointment in 2003. Under Ribadu, the EFCC recorded several landmark convictions, including the jailing of prominent banking executives, former state governors and other high-ranking politicians.

Ribadu’s appointment was renewed in 2007 by the Olusegun Obasanjo-led government for what was deemed a commendable service as the head of the nation’s anti-corruption body. He was also promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) after securing a second time in office.

However, Ribadu’s second appointment did not last for long as a new government, led by the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua, was sworn in months later. Yar’adua’s government described Ribadu’s promotion as “Illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, and of no legal effect” and in December of the same year,  Mike Okiro, the then Inspector-General of Police, stated that Ribadu would be removed as EFCC Chairman and sent to a one-year training course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Plateau State.

He was subsequently demoted from AIG to the rank of an assistant commissioner by the same government, in 2008. In the same year, Ribadu fled the country after two failed assassination attempts on his life.


Suleiman Abba

Suleiman Abba was made acting Inspector General of Police on August 1, 2014, by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government and was later confirmed as substantive IGP on November 4, 2014. However, Abba was sacked in April 2015 because of what the Jonathan administration termed ‘noticeable indiscipline’ in the Nigeria Police Force in the buildup to the 2015 general election.

Abba’s removalin 2015 was first announced via a tweet by Reuben Abati, the then president’s spokesman. Solomon Arase, a Deputy Inspector General of Police, was made his replacement. However, for several hours after the announcement, Abba received no communication or brief from either the president or any senior administration official and remained at his desk.

This particular manner of dismissal seemed to confirm past reports of Abba’s bias for the ruling party. For instance, after PDP lost the presidential election, it pprivately accused Abba of not doing enough to help the party despite receiving huge funding, instead deliberately favouring the APC. A secret arrangement was said to have been made by Sambo Dasuki, the then National Security Adviser (NSA), allowing all of the nation’s security units to submit budgets and proposals for how they could Jonathan and the PDP at the polls. PDP believed that despite the funding, Abba worked for the opposition.

In his days as acting IGP, Abba had controversially announced, in 2015, that politicians with criminal records would be stopped from contesting that year’s general election. This was despite a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that only a court of law could stop a candidate from contesting. Well, Abba somehow got a taste of his own medicine: when he contested for an APC senatorial slot in Jigawa in 2018, the party screened him out before the primary!


Ibrahim Magu

Ibrahim Magu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, first rose to prominence when he was appointed Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in November 2016.

However, his nomination by the Muhammadu Buhari Government as EFCC Chairman was rejected by the National Assembly. The Senate said that the security report made available to it showed that Magu was not fit to be Chairman of the body

The objection from the National Assembly notwithstanding, Magu continued in his capacity as Acting EFCC Chairman. In March 2017, the Senate again rejected his nomination, citing allegations of abuse of human rights by the commission under him and allegations from the Department of State Security (DSS) that Magu failed an integrity test.

In its summary, the Senate stated that he would be a liability to the Federal Government’s anti-corruption campaign.

In spite of this second rejection, Magu continued as EFCC head, overseeing scores of high-profile corruption cases that saw many politicians and businessmen convicted and sentenced to prison.

In July 2020, Magu was arrested and later suspended as EFCC Chairman as a result of a series of corruption allegations levelled against him.

By June 2020, 22 corruption allegations, including failure to properly account for N431million security votes/information funds released to the office between 2016 and 2020, had been made against Magu.

Magu was accused of corruption, fund mismanagement, lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the commission and abuse of office by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). Like many of the supercops before him, the end of Magu’s public life was quite unpalatable.

Published 21st Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele


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