Arts and Books

Gatekeeping against Crimes and Criminals

Title – A Journey in Leadership’s
Author – Tijjani M. Borodo
Publisher – May University Press Limited
Place of Publication – Lagos

Of the four main sections of the Ministry of Justice, I was most inclined towards the Public Prosecution Department. When I newly joined the Ministry, I worked under seniors, just like my peers. As I moved through the ranks, I later became a Deputy Team Leader. After being in that position for some time, I began to ask for promotion to the next level. ‘Promotions don’t come so quickly, TJ, the Solicitor-General told me when he learned that I was becoming agitated. “There is an open process, which we must follow and you’ve got to be patient’, he had said. It wasn’t as if I had a delayed promotion at any time, but I had seen other deputy team leaders promoted to team leaders, and I thought that I was doing more than I should be doing and that if people were being promoted, then I should be promoted as well. However, as time went by, I was promoted to the rank of a Senior State Council, then Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, and then Director of Public Prosecution.

In the country at the time, Kano State was second only to Lagos State in terms of the number of criminal cases that had to be prosecuted. Thus, the Department of Public Prosecution used to receive over a hundred criminal cases every week from the police for legal advice. As a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, I served under Alhaji Aliyu Umar, who taught me a lot about criminal prosecution. It was a lot of work because there were often so many cases to deal with. We always started around 8.30 am and closed at about 4pm every day. 1 used to spend a lot of time with Alhaji Umar in his office for the assigning of all cases to various lawyers, and to ensure that we received their legal opinions. Usually, after the lawyers had given their opinions, the Department of Public Prosecution would immediately review and forward the case files the Attorney-General, who would in turn send the opinions to the Police, instructing them to act accordingly. On the basis of the legal advice, the Police could drop the case, pursue further investigation or commence prosecution. I realized as a public prosecutor that every advice I offered directly or indirectly determined someone’s fate. It was a very delicate position of responsibility, to say the least.

Tijjani M. Borodo

On several occasions, I would return home in the night in my car, and as soon as I alight from the car and made towards my apartment (we used to live in a block of flats at the time), someone would just emerge from nowhere. “Sir, I want to see you… I want you to help me… I would just shout at the person to get away, and they would run away. At a point, I became a bit scared for my life. It was a period when I was handling several cases at the Armed Robbery Tribunal. There were hardened criminals on our list and as DPP, I had to be at the forefront of the fight against crimes and criminality. Close as we were, I never narrated any of such incidents to my wife because I didn’t want to scare her.

From when I became a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Mallam Mudi, who was then the Solicitor-General used to advise that I get some protection for myself because of the dangers that surrounded the position. But I didn’t want to have a personal security guard because my immediate boss, Aliyu Umar, didn’t have any himself; he believed, as I did, that only God could give man protection from his adversaries. However, I always took as much necessary precaution as I could not to expose myself and my family to harm. That said, one was still always a recipient of God’s mercy and protection.

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An incident in the office would later necessitate the assigning of a plain-cloth security man to my office. Late in the evening on this particular day after everyone had closed, I was reviewing a couple of case files on my desk when Mallam Hassan, my Office Assistant, came into my office to announce that some two Lebanese men wanted to see me. Mallam Hassan was a much older person than me, and very dedicated to his duty. He was also very religious; often in his spare time, you’ll find him in a corner reading the Quran. He was always alert and whenever he heard the bell ring, he would quickly stop reading the Quran and run to see who was at the door. If he was seeing you for the first time he would ask politely who you were and who you are looking for. I asked him to let the visitors in.

Just one of the two men came in, sat down, and introduced himself. He had come to see me regarding a certain case, and he needed my help. He and some of his friends were involved in a criminal case and the case file was brought to my office. He had a briefcase in his hand, and after his introductory remarks, he put it on the table, opened it to himself and then turned it to me. Contained in it were bundles of naira notes and a pistol.

Excerpt from: Journey in Leadership by Tijjani M. Borodo

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