The move to replace the Police Commissioners in Ogun and Lagos States has stirred controversial reactions from Nigerians who believed it was politically motivated ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba, in a letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated January 24, 2023, recommended the deployment of the Commissioners of Police, Frank Mba and Idowu Owohunwa to Ogun and Lagos respectively.
IGP Baba stated that the replacement was aimed at strengthening the strategic and operational control of the commands.
Surprisingly, the development generated massive applause from some Nigerians who believed the move by the police authorities and by extension the current administration, was a leap forward in the pursuant of a free and fair election.
Many also considered the development to dismantle existing formations by enemies of democracy with plans to hinder the successful outcome of the election.
Some linked the deployment of Mba, a three-time Police Spokesperson, and as of press time, the officer in charge of the Federal Border Patrol branch of the Force, to President Muhammadu Buhari’s way of ensuring neutrality in Ogun State.
The recommendation by the IGP to the PSC is observed by THE WHISTLER to have been submitted on January 24, the same day the president recommended former IGP Solomon Arase, to the Senate for approval as the new chairperson of the commission.
However, there is no substantial proof connecting the forthcoming presidential election to the developing events.
On the other hand, the PSC on Friday told THE WHISTLER that the recommendation by the IGP was currently being considered for approval.
“There is a recommendation to our commission, and the commission will consider and take a decision” Ikechukwu Ani, Spokesperson of the PSC revealed.
Owohunwa on his part, currently the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to IGP Baba, has been denied by the Lagos Police Command to have assumed the position of the State’s Commissioner of Police.
The spokesperson, Ben Hundeyin in a series of tweets on Friday reacted to the online buzz, clarifying that the current Commissioner, Abiodun Alabi maintains his position as the head of the police in the state.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no Commissioner of Police has been posted to Lagos State. Members of the public are, therefore, urged to disregard fake news making the rounds that a new Commissioner of Police has been deployed to Lagos State Police Command.
Apparently, Hundeyin’s reaction was against the “barrage of calls to officers of the command”, which according to him is a “needless distraction and waste of valuable time”.
He, however, said the command would keep residents posted on new development.
THE WHISTLER reached out to the current Commissioner of Police in Ogun, Lanre Bankole and Mba for their reactions, but there was no response as of press time.
The All Progressive Congress (APC)’s presidential aspirant, Biola Tinubu is seen as dominating the political space of Ogun and Lagos States where he is believed to facilitate who emerges as Governor.
Recall in June 2022, Tinubu explained to a crowd of APC delegates in Abeokuta, the critical role he played in the process that led to the emergence of Dapo Abiodun, the current state governor.
Also, the controversies surrounding Akinwunmi Ambode’s massive loss in the 2019 Governor’s election was another case that spelt out the alleged powers of Tinubu in Lagos’s political structure.