There are strong indications that two senior police officers from the North-Central and South-East geo-political zones are being considered for the post of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), which will become vacant in June when the current IG, Solomon Arase, retires from the force.
Highly placed sources in government circles told Daily Trust on Sunday that the position of the nation’s top police officer has been zoned to the two regions, given that none of the zones is currently represented in the appointment of the nation’s security chiefs.
The distribution of all the service and security chiefs shows that while the North-East has the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff, the North-West has the DG DSS, the South-West has Chief of Defence Staff and the South-South has Chief of Naval Staff and police IG, while the South-East and North-Central have none.
To correct the imbalance, sources said the Presidency may pick either DIG Dan’Azumi Job Doma from the North-Central or DIG Chintua Amajor-Onu from Abia State in the South-East, as a possible replacement of Arase.
Doma is in charge of the Admin and Finance at the Force Headquarters, while Chintua heads the department of Information and Communication Technology, also at the headquarters.
Arase will be retiring a little over a year after becoming Nigeria’s police chief. The Edo-born was appointed IG by former President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015 and will attain the mandatory retirement age of 60 on June 21, 2016, after serving for 35 years.
Sources said he may proceed on a three-month pre-retirement leave this month, a situation that may pave way for the appointment of a new police boss earlier than June. There were speculations that President Buhari would sack Arase alongside other service chiefs after taking over from Jonathan in May, 2015. However, when the sack came for the security chiefs in July 2015, the police boss was spared by the President, due to what was believed to be the IG’s outstanding track record of performance.
Following the sack, the President appointed General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Lieutenant General Tukur Y. Buratai as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff. He also appointed Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan as Chief of Defence Intelligence and retired Major-General Babagana Monguno as National Security Adviser.
Arase was born on June 21, 1956. He hails from Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. He joined the police with a degree in Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1981. The police boss also has bachelors and master’s degrees in Law.
Until his appointment as Inspector General of Police, Arase was the Head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
How the next IGP will emerge
The choice for Arase’s successor will not be based on seniority among officers in the force, Daily Trust on Sunday has gathered, as doing that may further unsettle the geo-political balancing of the country’s security chiefs. Presently, only the South-East and the North-Central have no representation in the headship of security agencies, whereas the North-East has the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai (Borno State) and Chief of Air Staff, Sadique ( Bauchi State). The North-West has the DG DSS, Lawal Daura (Katsina State); the South-West has the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin (Ekiti State) while the South-South has the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Cross River State)and the Police IG, Solomon Arase from Edo State, leaving out the North-Central and the South-East.
For a long time in the police force, seniority had not been the determinant for choosing an IG, except during the appointment of former IGP Ogbonna Onovo and Arase. Following the retirement of Mr. Mike Mbama Okiro as the 13th Inspector General of Police in July 2009, his number two and the then Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Administration, DIG Onovo, was named the next Inspector General of Police by former President Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua.
It was gathered that the tradition for making geo-political considerations key in the appointment of the nation’s security chiefs has been maintained from the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who zoned the post of the IG to the South-West. It is against this backdrop that sources said Buhari may favour the South-East and appoint the most senior police officer from the region, DIG Chintua, in order to assuage the zone, which has consistently complained of being shut out in the distribution of appointments by the present administration, especially in the appointment of security heads.
Currently heading the department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) her rank and deployment as DIG may boost her chances of clinching the job, in addition to the sense of belonging that her appointment may give to the people of the South-East.
Although the North-East has a crop of other high ranking police officers that can be considered for the job, sources said Doma is seen to have an edge over most of them, given his international and local exposure and exemplary performance as a police officer. Doma, currently in charge of administration and finance at the Force Headquarters, may be considered for the appointment given his various exploits as DIG.
He was promoted to the rank of an AIG in 2012, and was promoted to DIG in 2014.
Doma, it is believed, will be appointed the next IG because of his seniority, zone and faith.
First, he is the second most senior in the police after Arase and is from the North-Central.
Also, the president may settle for him on account of his religion, which will make him acceptable to other parts of the country, in addition to his home, the North. Insiders described him as a tough cop who has been playing a very critical role as a member of the police management team. He still has up to 2019 to remain in the force.
DIG Chintua holds a degree in law enforcement and criminal justice. Other officers ahead of her in the force include DIG Sotonye Leroy Wakama (Ops), DIG Mamman Tsafe (Logistics), DIG Kwake Christopher Katso (Investigation), DIG Hashimu Argungu (Training & Development) and DIG Jibril Olawale (Research).
If President Buhari settles for the South-East to produce the next IGP and decides to pick someone apart from DIG Chintua, sources said, he would have to pick the person from police commissioners from the zone.
This is because the zone is said to have no AIGs to select from, as Chintua is the most senior officer from there. If a commissioner is chosen, it would go down into history as the first time an officer of that rank is considered for the position of the IGP in the country. One thing that wil work against Chintua is that she will attain the retirement age on July 12, 2016.
Another top officer that has been tipped for the top job as replacement for Arase is AIG Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, who hails from Niger State (North-Central). Sources say his choice may also be based on his track record of performance in the service. An LLB (Honours) in Law degree holder from the University of Maiduguri, AIG Idris was enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force as cadet ASP in 1984 and rapidly rose through the ranks.
He served as Divisional Crime Officer and Traffic Officer in Gusau Division in the present Zamfara State from January, 1986 to March, 1987 and he was transferred to the Police Mobile Force in April 1987 where he served for 17 years, during which period he held several command positions. He was Commandant Police Mobile Force Training School, Gwoza, Borno State, from February 1998 to January 31, 2004.
AIG Idris also led a contingent of Nigerian Police officers to the United Nations Mission in Liberia on February 1, 2004 and was later seconded by the Nigerian government to the United Nations in March 2005, where he served as mission police operation coordinator from February 2004 to October 2008, and was later deployed from there as the Deputy Police Commissioner in-charge of Operations in the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste (UNMIT), from October 2008 to March 2011.
Police insiders said he was one of the few young police commissioners who have bagged the achievement of being posted to a challenging state, like Kano, to serve as commissioners. During his days there, it was gathered, Idris who had just been promoted as commissioner, took part in the joint security efforts that helped crippled the activities of insurgents in the state.
His recent deployment as the AIG in charge of Federal operations was said to be on account of his sterling performances in Kano and other states where he had served as a commissioner.
Daily Trust on Sunday, however, learnt that names of other senior police officers from the North-Central zone, where Idris came from, are also being mentioned as likely candidates for the police top job, especially in police circles.
Another senior officer from the same zone is AIG Mohammed J. Gana, currently the AIG Zone 4 Makurdi. Gana is also from Niger State and has had stints in states considered to be very tough, including Kano.