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Yar’Adua picks Onovo to succeed Okiro as Police IG

By Kingley Omonobi
ABUJA — Strong indications emerged, weekend, in Abuja that at the retirement of Mr. Mike Mbama Okiro as the 13th Inspector General of Police, his number two and Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Administration, DIG Ogbonna Onovo would be named the next Inspector General of Police by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

 President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua picks DIG Ogbonna Onovo as next Inspector General of Police
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua picks DIG Ogbonna Onovo as next Inspector General of Police

The expected appointment of Onovo, according to Presidency sources, followed Yar’Aadua’s insistence that due process should be followed in the appointment of senior qualified officers with track records of performance to head sensitive positions.
Moreover, it was gathered that the presidency is comfortable with DIG Onovo’s simple, non controversial and business-like attitude which were noticed from close quarters when he worked with the office of the National Security Adviser as Deputy Inspector General in Charge, Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID).

Another factor that worked in favour of Onovo is said to be the matured manner and equanimity, with which the erstwhile number two to former IGP, Sunday Gabriel Ehindero, took the appointment of Sir Mike Okiro as IGP in 2007, following the retirement of Ehindero, even though he was a course mate of Okiro at NIPSS and when every permutation had pointed to him (Onovo) as the next IGP.

Yar’Adua is said to have been further impressed with the excellent cooperation and loyalty Onovo showed to Okiro despite losing out to him, and with kind words about Onovo coming from Okiro himself, it is his conviction that DIG Onovo, who has enhanced his knowledge after working closely with Tafa Balogun, Sunday Ehindero and Mike Okiro, and with three years left to serve in the force, should be well experienced enough to be the next IGP.

Onovo had held among others the following positions: Deputy Commissioner of Police, old Bendel state, Deputy Commissioner and later Commissioner of Police, Adamawa state for eight months, Commissioner of Police, Ogun State, Chairman, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Assistant Inspector General of Police {Force Secretary}, Deputy Inspector General, FCID and presently Deputy Inspector General of Police, Administration.

The senior officer, who is 56 this year has four years more to attain the mandatory retirement age of 60 years. But if the year of joining the force comes into question, DIG Onovo will be retired on the attainment of 59 years, when he would have clocked 35 years in service.

However, severe pressure is said to be mounting on President Yar’Adua to ditch Onovo and go for what some describe as the new breed in the police force. With some former but powerful governors and top PDP echelons amongst them, a former Governor, proposing the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge ‘Operations’, Mr. John Ahmadu or the Deputy Inspector General in charge of Works, Udom Ekpe Udom, as the next IGP.

Their argument is that in view of the fact that policing of today and tomorrow needs young and dynamic officers capable of matching the sophistication of new dimension crimes have introduced, DIG Ahmadu who supervised the security arrangements for the volatile Ekiti governorship re-run elections which reproduced Engr. Segun Oni, could reproduce the commendable feat in a bigger capacity in future.

They further cite the police report that emanated after the Ekiti election which spared nobody, including local political gladiators like Senator Ayo Arise and Senator Femi Kila (PDP Chieftains) of contributing to the few violence and confrontations that threatened the Ekiti re-run elections, as ample evidence of John Ahmadu’s ability to be neutral in sensitive assignments.

Before his appointment as DIG Operations, Ahmadu who is an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS); served as Assistant Inspector General in Charge, Zone 10, Sokoto, Commissioner of Police, Delta state during the first tenure of Chief James Ibori, who had a first knowledge of the capabilities of Ahmadu as a police officer.

DIG Ekpe Udom on his part, who hails from Cross Rivers state, has been the Commissioner of Police, Delta state, Oyo state and briefly CP, Lagos, before his appointment as AIG, Zone 5 and later AIG Force Secretary, before his appointment as Deputy Inspector General, ‘C’ Department.

For the north, which believes that the entire South with particular reference to the South-West and South-South have had their fill as IGP, beginning with the appointment of Mr. Musiliu Smith as IGP under former President Obasanjo, to the appointment of Mr. Tafa Balogun, Sunday Gabriel Ehindero and now Mike Okiro, their message to Yar’Adua is that one of their accomplished officers and AIG zone 2, Lagos, M.D. Abubakar, should be appointed the next IG or in the alternative, DIG Uba Ringim, who is in charge of ‘E’ Department should be appointed.

AIG M. D. Abubakar in particular, is said to be enjoying the backing of the Emirs and the traditional institution from the north headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, some senior traditional rulers from even the South West and South-South, not only because of his knowledge of policing, but because of his hardwork and ability to achieve excellent results.

In particular, as someone from an area considered as part of the sultanate, Zamfara state, the north believes that failure to seize this opportunity could become costly especially as they believe that M. D. Abubakar is well liked both inside and outside the police force. AIG Abubakar who is an alumnus of NIPSS, has served as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lagos state command as well as CP, and was also one time AIG, Zone 1, Kano

Authoritative sources, however, insists that despite all the pressure, President Yar’Adua on whose table the buck stops, wants the atmosphere of the 2011 general elections to be devoid of tension, controversy and that due process should be followed and that from what he has seen, the person that can do it is Ogbonna Onovo.

Continuing the source said, “A physical example of President Yar’Adua’s insistence that due process be followed in such appointments, is the recent appointment of Mr. Steve Oronsaye as the new Head of Service of the federation. He took over as HOS, as the next most senior officer to his predecessor, Mrs. Amma Pepple, who herself took over from her predecessor as the next most senior even though she had only about six months left to serve in the civil service.

Experience of how the tenure of Mr. Sunday Gabriel Ehindero’s tenure as IGP was extended even after he attained the 35 mandatory years in service and the unrelenting focus and commitment with which the present IG, Mr. Mike Okiro is performing his duty, is pointing to the picture that those forecasting an extension for Okiro could have their way.

Suddenly, the IG is laying more housing foundations, introducing new crime fighting strategies and crime fighting equipment like the electronic vehicle recovery system and boosting the public private partnership (PPP) with various private initiatives.
Recently, no less a person than Dr. Wale Babalakin, (Mr. PPP), Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Universities, told a gathering at the launching of a magazine POLIS, that he was looking forward to working with Mr. Okiro to put in place a 24-hour security service that would make the Lagos Ibadan road the safest in the country.


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