As the backlash over the recent appointment of new service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari, continues unabated, another opportunity may be staring the president in the face to correct the anomaly.
The president had, last week, announced the appointment of new service chiefs without any officer from the South East geopolitical zone in the equation. The new appointment drew flaks from, not only prominent Igbo people and groups, but also people from the northern part of the country, including Arewa Consultative Forum. The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum, had, in their separate reactions, said that it was wrong not to have a South East appointee among the service chiefs.
A national president of the forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, though lauded the replacement of the former service chiefs, he however kicked against the fact that nobody was appointed from the South East, stressing that the exclusion of the South-East from the list of new appointees was wrong and capable of worsening the volatile situation in that zone. Also the national publicity secretary, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, accused the Buhari’s government of not changing its agenda of nepotism and managing the country in a sectional manner, he faulted appointment of the new service chiefs, as there was nobody appointed from the South East part of the country.
However with the likely retirement of the incumbent, Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, an opportunity might have presented itself for the president to address this anomaly.
This is so, because since Louis Edet became the inspector general of police in 1964, only one police officer had been appointed the IG from the South East. In 2009, Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo replaced Mike Mbama Okiro, who was appointed IG in 2007. Though Okiro hails from Ohaji, he was said to have got the position on the lot of South – South. So in calculation, South East has only had one slot as IG in Onovo and he served for just for one year.
Our correspondent gathered that in the current police hierarchy, of the recently promoted Deputy Inspectors General of Police, DIG Joseph O. Egbunike, who oversees the department of finance and administration, is the oldest. Others are DIG Usman Alkali Baba, who heads the Force Criminal Intelligence Department (FCID); DIG Ibrahim A. Lamorde, Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB); DIG David Oyebanji Folawiyo, Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and DIG Dan-Mallam Mohammed, – Department of Training and Development.
However there is suspense in the police that if Abubakar Adamu Mohammed, retires today, he may go with at least three DIGS and 10 AIGs. There is also the anxiety as to whether the president will bow to alleged pressure to have his tenure extended.
By service records, the IGP, who enlisted on February 1, 1986, will attain the mandatory 35 years service scheduled for retirement today. The DIGs who are due for retirement with Adamu are Aminchi Samaila Baraya; Ibrahim A. Lamorde, who once headed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nkpa N. Inakwu. Inakwu, though promoted along with others, could not be assigned office because of alleged ill-health
In addition to the DIGs, the 10 AIGs said to be on the list of retirement include Mohammad A. Mustapha; AIG Jonah Jackson; Olushola Babajide David; Yunana Y. Babas; Asuquo A.A. Amba; Nkereuwem Akpan; Olafimihan Adeniran Adeoye; Agunbiade O. Labore; Undie Adie; and Olugbenga Adeyanju.
A very senior police officer, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said that by hierarchy, Ogbunike should succeed Adamu as he’s the next in order of seniority.
The source said, “If we are to go by seniority, the next person is DIG Joseph Egbunike. He is not among those to retire with the outgoing IG. But know that it is the prerogative of the Mr. President, as the chairman of the Nigerian Police Council, to appoint an IG from the ranks of DIG and AIG.
“Regrettably, there is currently no Igbo man as AIG. The next most senior Igbo police officer is CP John Amadi, but by rank he’s not qualified unless the president decides to promote him and appoint him as the new IG. But if the president wants to be fair to Ndigbo, now is the opportunity because Egbunike is eminently qualified.
Unfortunately in the last promotion announced by the Police Service Commission (PSC) in the DIG and AIG category, no Igbo man was considered. However, security watchers are of the view that there is precedence in the appointment of IGPs where some senior officers were compulsorily retired in order to pave way to the president’s choice.
It has pointed out that Buhari’s first IGP, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, was the commissioner of police in Kano State before he was given accelerated promotion to enable him emerge as the inspector general of police. Buhari’s action also drew precedence from the then President Olusegun Obasano, who retired some senior officers to pave way for Sunday Ehindero emerging as the IGP.
According to the police source, “These are facts, but again, the prerogative is the president’s.”