MASS TRANSFER IGP REDEPLOYS POLICEMEN IN S'EAST TO THE NORTH
Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo
Following the persistent cases of kidnapping in the South Eastern part of the country, there are indications that Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, may have ordered the immediate transfer of the larger chunk of policemen serving in the geo-political zone to other parts of the country.
The move may be in response to the clamour by stakeholders and other leaders of thought in the zone for the police leadership to effect a total overhaul of its personnel in the South- East. They had accused the police officers and men of complicity in the seemingly intractable kidnap menace that has held the zone by the jugular for so long now.
Bare three days ago, the leader of Obigbo, a pan- Igbo socio-political group, Chief Charles Ahize, had openly accused policemen in the South-East of being on the payroll of many of the kingpins of kidnapping in the zone. He said the police were hands in glove with the criminals and called on Onovo to take the bull by the horns and effect a mass transfer of the policemen in the East.
Similarly, as the saga of the recent kidnap of four journalists and their driver in the Obingwa area of Abia State raged, there were reports that some of the kidnappers were getting regular intelligence report on the movements of police and other security agents, information which police authorities believed could only have been given out by an insider who was collaborating with the hoodlums.
But in a seeming resolve to battle the insider collaborators and effectively checkmate kidnapping and other violent crimes prevalent in the area which the police in the area were accused of complicity, Daily Sun gathered that Onovo is now set to bit the bullet.
A senior police source told Daily Sun that policemen in the Abia State command are to be transferred to Zamfara and Kebbi states, while those in Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi are likely to be transferred to other parts of Northern and South West states.
Confirming the development in a telephone chat, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Emmanuel Ojukwu, who failed to give all the details, however, said the step was not a punitive one but a crime fighting measure aimed at tackling the spate of violent crimes in the area.
Ojukwu said: 'The transfer is a routine thing in the Police that are done regularly and also is another measure aimed at injecting new blood into the system. Let no one see it as a punishment but it's a crime fighting strategy. When officers and men stay too long in a place, they have to be transfer to give way for new hands'.
Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Monday gathered that the transfers affected mainly officers in Anambra and Abia states because of the rampant cases of kidnapping in the areas. A police source, who preferred anonymity told NAN in Awka that policemen, who had stayed long in the states were either abetting crime or sabotaging the efforts of the command.
The source said in Anambra alone, more than 3,000 officers and men were affected by the transfer to other states, including Sokoto and Borno.
'More than 500 senior police officers are also affected.' the source revealed.
'The transfer came after the recent visit of the Inspector-General (IG) of Police, Mr Ogbonna Onovo, to the zone where he directed that all those transferred be given seven days to report to their new commands.'
The source said the IG further charged police officers to rededicate themselves to their duties and to develop new initiatives geared toward combating the menace of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
'He (the IG) particularly called for new approaches toward intelligence gathering,' the source said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Anambra, Mr Emeka Chukwuemeka, confirmed that the transfers had started, but said he could not ascertain the number.
He said, 'The exercise is ongoing and involves officers, who have spent five years and above in one location.
Mr. Nnodum Okeke, an Awka-based businessman, expressed hope that the transfers would bring about the desired peace and security needed for businesses to thrive in the zone.
Onovo, who relocated to the South-East since last week, following the kidnap of four journalists, had yet to return to Abuja as at the time of filing this report.
The IG is said to have been dialoguing with community leaders and governments of the region on ways to stop kidnapping in the East.