Why Onovo, service chiefs were removed

image President Jonathan …decorating Onovo during the recent national honours award …removed him Wednesday

THE bad shape of the police, “incessant” disobedience of court orders and the state of insecurity in the country are some of the reasons for Wednesday’s sack of Inspector-General of Police Ogbonna Onovo, The Nation reports today.

It was also learnt that the removal of Onovo and the Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS), Afakriya Gadzama, had to do with preparations for the 2011 elections.

As for the service chiefs, there were indications that most of them were due for retirement after spending over 35 years in service.

President Goodluck Jonathan removed the service chiefs, the IGP and the DG of SSS. He appointed new officers to replace them.

Those appointed are: Air Marshall O.O. Petinrin (Chief of Defence Staff); Maj.-Gen. O.A. Ihejirika (Chief of Army Staff); Rear Admiral O.S. Ibrahim (Chief of Naval Staff); Air Vice Marshall M.D. Umar (Chief of Air Staff); Mr. Hafiz Ringim (Acting Inspector-General of Police); and Ita Ekpeyong (Director-General, State Security Services).

The Presidency, sources said, had been uncomfortable with the security situation in the country, with Nigerians being kidnapped and robbed at will.

A source said: “With the present security situation, changes in the police and the SSS became necessary, if we are to have free and fair elections in 2011.

“Besides old age accounting for Gadzama’s removal, the Presidency had given enough rope to Onovo to pull but things were becoming worse. You can crosscheck your facts; the low performance of the police had always dominated weekly security meetings at the Presidential Villa.

“The alleged violation of court orders by the erstwhile IGP, who is a lawyer, was the icing on the cake because his attitude undermined the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law policy of the present administration.

“Flouting court orders had created embarrassment for the Jonathan administration.

“I think Onovo’s cup was indeed full and could no longer be tolerated. It got to a point that the police engaged Israeli MOSSAD to unravel kidnapping in the Southeast.

“With this air of uncertainty, it is only an insensitive government that will leave the police and SSS the way they were.

“Jonathan wants an impartial police and security coverage for 2011 elections and with disregard for court orders by the police, anarchy could set in.”

On the service chiefs, the source added: “Most of them were due for retirement in line with the mandatory 35 years in service.

“Although one or two of them had deployed troops without the knowledge of Jonathan when he was the Acting President, he overlooked the insubordination because the military might be polarised along the North-South divide.

“At a point, appointments in the military assumed religious colouration and it became expedient for the President to take precaution and allow the service chiefs to remain.

“The high quality of the outgoing service chiefs also informed the President’s resistance of pressure to sack them as soon as he assumed office.”

Culled from The Nation