Hello, son, how are you? I want to start by asking you a pertinent question. Where are you presently? Are you still in Burkina Faso? The reason for these questions is, we saw your name on the list of wanted persons the police described as terrorists.
They said you were one of them and we wondered how you became a terrorist. You told me and your mother that you were travelling to Burkina Faso in search of work, since five years now, Since then, we have not heard from you nor did you deem it appropriate to put a phone call to any of us, not even your brother that you left behind in Nigeria.
Many family friends and a few of your friends have been reaching out to us, informing us about the police wanted list of terrorists in which your name was published in all the newspapers. We were informed that the security agencies are soon going to publish your picture together with other members of your gang.
This is very unfortunate and disturbing because I never believed that any of my sons would ever be associated with such a terrible and vicious gang. Do you really know how people see you terrorists? Simple, they see you terrorists as devils. They say you boys are always on drugs and this has twisted your mind to perpetrate evil. They say you now kill without any remorse. They say you and your gang destroy farmlands, steal cows and kidnap innocent people for ransom. We cannot believe our ears.
Three month ago, your mother fainted and was rushed to the hospital in a state of coma after hearing the news from a local radio station where one of your friends is a staff. Apart from the trauma of your mother’s death, your elder sister Amina was pursued out of her four years’ matrimonial home by her in-laws because they heard of your name as one of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, your younger brother Sanni has vowed not to be associated with you as his elder brother. My son, I must be frank with you, I am traumatized to my marrow and I live daily in shame, as I cannot attend any village meeting without someone pricking on me with the description “father of a terrorist.”
What a shame! Have you seen what pain and mud you have splashed on the family name? Every night, thoughts of you, especially your straying to join this evil gang. What could have lured you to join the gang? Was it money? Or what exactly? If you had needed money, wouldn’t I have sold one my plots of land for you?
Surprisingly, I am informed that your gang is called Islamic State–West Africa Province (ISWAP). You mean you travelled to Burkina Faso to join such an ungodly gang? A gang that is anti-Allah? A group, I gathered, that the Koran they interprete to you is adulterated. Is this true?
What were you lacking at home that could have lured you to join the group? I also heard that you have made the forest your home. I couldn’t belief my ears when Sanni’s class teacher who visited the house was narrating what your gang has wreaked on many families. He said your gang members collect several hundreds of millions from the families of those you kidnap.
‘Wallahi tallahi, what are you boys doing with such huge amount? The painful aspect of the teacher’s narrative was when he said that many ladies, men and children are in your custody inside the thick forest. He said you people gang-rape the women.
What the hell took you to Burkina Faso? I can’t imagine my own son being associated with such a gang. I was in tears when I asked Sanni’s teacher if you had ever told him of lacking anything? As my first son, I ensured that you attended a Koranic school and also proceeded to a government secondary school. Was it not after your senior secondary school result, which was excellent, that you deceived me and your mother that you were travelling in search of greener pastures in Burkina Faso, adding that you intended to save money to further your education to the university level? I was very worried when Sanni’s teacher further told me that you and your gang members live permanently in the forest day and night without changing dress, and I asked, were you not sleeping in a very comfortable room that I allocated to you and your brothers?
Unfortunately, you now prefer to live like a monkey. My son, what shall it profit you if you collaborate with foreigners to destroy your country? My son, what if, while going to attack your victims, the long arms of the security agencies catches up with you? My son, the sweat of my life, the son I had hoped to celebrate, painfully you have brought shame to me and my family. I now hide my face in shame as I move around the state.
Let me announce to you that there is an opening now for you and your colleagues. The government is ready accept you people back into the society. As I write this open letter to you, over 30,000 terrorists have surrendered and repented from terrorism.
Please, I beg you, in the name of Allah, take advantage of this opened window of grace provided by the government. It is me.
Your father, Alhaji Tinku Koboko
Tafa Balogun: A star has fallen (2)
His stature was intimidating but his personality oozed and friendliness. His brilliant performance attracted him to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammad Gambo Jimeta, and he was appointed his personal staff officer (PSO). Each time I visited his office at Police Headquarters, Obalende, Lagos, his warm reception further attracted me to him.
On many instances, my senior colleague on the crime beat in National Concord newspaper, Mr. Ishola Folorunsho (now late), request me to book appointments with the IGP through his PSO, Balogun. Interestingly, many years later, when he eventually became the IGP, I had written my second book “Dark Clouds: Confessions of Notorious Armed Robbers in Nigeria.”
He was the co-chairman at the launch, while the then Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was the chairman. Mr. Balogun was an encourager of brilliant, hardworking civilians and police officers. He was a humanitarian to the core.
On noticing that many policemen were being denied their promotion, against all odds, he promoted thousands of policemen and women. No wonder, the name Tafa Balogun remains indelible in the consciousness of many police officers, despite Nuhu Ribadu’s draping him with corruption toga. Truly, a star has fallen and the security community felt it. May his good soul rest in peace.