Recently some senior police officers were elevated to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police by the Police Service Commission; among them is a celebrated disciplined officer, DIG Ferderick Taiwo Lakanu. Amby Uneze profiles the gentleman with a lion heart
The age long axiom that a great man is usually not honoured by his kinsmen is gradually phasing out as time and events have changed the notion. Though not all great people are accorded the recognition they deserve in their home, the case of the newly elevated Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG Ferderick Taiwo Lakanu, is different. He has been honoured by his country due to his hardwork, dexterity and discipline.
Over the time, it had been scientifically and logically proved that hardwork and discipline pays, which leads to reward and honour. Lakanu has no doubt proven this to be true considering what he is able to give to his fatherland via his chosen career as a police officer.
The elevation of Lakanu as a DIG has indeed confirmed that the Police Service Commission (PSC) lays premium on merit and not on “man know man” basis. Going by Lakanu’s pedigree and elevation, it is believed that the police force is now ready to fight crime and achieve success for the nation.
Before his recent promotion from the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) as appointed by the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, Lakanu was the Force Secretary and member of the Nigeria Police Force Management Team. He took over from AIG Abdul Bube, who retired from the force on December 31, 2018, after 35 years of meritorious service.
Born on October 12, 1959, in Lagos Island, Lagos State, available records by the police said Lakanu holds B.A. (Hons) Philosophy and LL.B. (Hons) from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos State, and Master in Law from Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Also, the new force secretary has attended several courses within and outside the country, including Crime Investigation Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, and Developmental Course at Kofi Annan Centre for Peace Keeping, Accra, Ghana. He is also a fellow of National Defence College, Abuja.
Furthermore, before his recent elevation as DIG, Lakanu had served in various capacities in the service as AIG Federal Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja; Commissioner of Police in Imo and Ekiti States; Commissioner of Police Airport Command, Lagos; Principal Staff Officer to the IG (Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos), among others. He was also the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja, comprising the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger and Kaduna States.
A celebrated crime fighter, Lakanu, who is also the Akogun of Lagos State and the Onwa Na Etiri Oha (the moon that shines) and Agu-na-echemba (the lion that guides the town) of Imo State was once described by his host governor in Imo, Chief Rochas Okorocha, as the long-awaited divine messenger sent by providence to rid the state of criminals.
It was also learnt that wherever he finds himself, Lakanu has done his best to restore the lost glory of the police. From the time he enlisted as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 1986, he has risen through the ranks, holding positions in operations, investigations and administration.
Lakanu was a leading member of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that ended the reign of the dreaded bandit, Shina Rambo in the 80s. He served as a Personal Staff Officer (PSO) to an Inspector General of Police. He was recently celebrated at an award ceremony organised by Security Watch Africa in Houston, Texas, USA.
He was named as the Most Outstanding Crime Fighter in West and Sub-Saharan Africa. Lakanu is loved by the people as well as Journalists. In Nigeria today, he seems to be the most popular police officer. His other activities include; leading Special Forces to Kaduna where he quelled the crisis which earned him commendation from the governor, Malam el Rufai, who praised his leadership qualities and operational experience.
He was in Ekiti and survived the holocaust there. In Imo he excelled and the high point of it was the supervision of the killing of the most notorious kidnapper in the South-east and beyond, Vampire. This led to his being nicknamed as the “messiah” and he was bestowed with two chieftaincy title as “Onwa natili oha of Igboland” and “Agu-na-echemba” of Imo State.
On his elevation to AIG, he was incharge of operation, responsible for the North-east which took him to all the troubled spots in the country; he also led a team of policemen to curb the activities of IPOB in the South-east.
One greatest feat Lakanu has over and above his peers is his love to humanity, which led him to construct and complete the building of a Catholic Church called “St. Michael The Archangel Catholic Police Chaplaincy”, at the Police Headquarters, Owerri.
While policemen have been condemned and roundly criticised, Lakanu has variously redeemed the battered image of the force by having a street named after him, a dual carriage way rightly behind the police headquarters, Owerri, even while in service. It is unprecedented in today’s police image. He projected community policing principles while in Imo state.
Even when police is generally known for fighting criminals and reducing crimes in the society so as to create a safe environment for both human and property, he did not only achieve this but has gone as far as building a befitting Police Chaplaincy.
“Who says that a policeman will not go to heaven, you will go to heaven considering your generosity and human kindness. That is why you are succeeding in crime fighting in Imo State”. This was the outburst of the Chaplain of St. Michael The Archangel Catholic Police Chaplaincy, Rev. Fr. Innocent Emeam while appreciating Lakanu’s effort as the then Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command, after he started and completed a Catholic Church building at the Police Shell Camp Headquarters, Owerri in record time.
The church foundation which was laid sometimes in the last quarter of 2015 came to many as a surprise considering the ‘Nigerian’ factor, which usually are characterised by bottleneck, bureaucracy, lack of will-power and fear of the unknown syndrome. It was not in the mood of some chief executive of organisations not to talk of a security agency to look for other ways to assist the lives of those he/she was sent to overlook. But Lakanu did the unthinkable, an award winning thought and above all something that tended towards character molding, strong belief that God-can-do-it for the command to excel in her main objective of crime fighting.
Taking a deeper look at the old church building, which was a wooden structure that could hardly contain up to 20 worshippers and juxtapose it to the gigantic edifice that is meant to replace it, one would only give thanks to God for bringing the person of Lakanu to the state at the time he came. To many Imolites, there could not have been a better replacement because what he had done was something that overwhelmed everybody. According to the Chaplain, while giving a vote of thanks after the official dedication and Inauguration of the church by the Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, “today will remain the happiest day in my life. I want to thank God for doing this in our time. It is not by might, but by the spirit of God”.
While inaugurating the church, Archbishop Obinna had charged leaders to use their position to serve God and humanity and not to use it as a means to amass wealth and do injustice to the society. The Archbishop reminded Christians and Nigerians in general to take it easy on issues of money, adding that the love of money being the root of evil “we should not allow it to divert our attention from the things of God”.
Lakanu, however attributed his successes to his passion for God as well as his openness to issues. He was full of praises to Imo people for giving him the peaceful atmosphere to not only to fight crime in the state but also found time to think about God, whom he said gave him the inspiration to achieve the feat.
“I thank you Imolites. You people are wonderful. I am grateful to God for making this realisable under me. I also thank my friends who came to donate for the building of this church”, he said.
On what motivated him to start the church building, he said, “the motivation to build this church came because I am a Christian. This is not the first time I had constructed a church, when I was in Ekiti State; I joined the policemen there to build a church like this.
“The essence is that I know when Christ is in your life, everything is possible. And I pray that if I have this church here I can always come in here and pray and, of course, the prayers will be answered. It is also a source of motivation for policemen to know that the kind of work they do is so difficult that they need Christ in their life.
“I built this church to get closer to God, and I know more policemen here attend church services. We hold vigil, we pray and God has been answering our prayers. That is why Imo is regarded as one of the safest states in the country. There is nothing to it but prayers. That is the motivating factor. What I did was that I appealed to my friends to assist me and in appreciation whatever they give we donate to the church and that is why we are able to finish it within one year”, he stated.
Extolling the good work of Lakanu, the former Chief of Staff, Government House, Uche Nwosu, who is presently the governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA) said the former CP was a blessing to the state, adding that since he was posted to the state crime reduced tremendously as kidnapping and armed robbery were tackled headlong. Nwosu stated that the secret of the successes the former CP recorded in the state were traced to his faith in God and urged him to continue in the service to God and humanity.
Another stakeholder, who also benefitted from the mercy of God, Chief Chima Anozie from Orji in Owerri North local government area of the state was full of gratitude for the Lakanu and narrated how he was saved from heart surgery.
According to him, “I am so happy; you know the best investment is to invest in God, especially in church. I’m so happy with the former CP, the Igbos have the notion that the Yorubas don’t invest outside Lagos which is more comfortable and best place for them for investment, but to me the Yorubas are the best investors. Having invested in church that is the best investment because other investments your children can sell it, but church you can’t sell it.”