By Mary BASSEY, Senior Investigator Reporter, Lagos.
RETIRED but not tired Commissioner of Police, CP Dan Nkem Okoro has been appointed as the Special Adviser, Security to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State. The appointment of the investigator extraordinaire sources said take immediate effect. A statement signed by the Governor’s Special Assistant on media and publicity, Oguwike Nwachukwu, a veteran journalist and seasoned crime reporter and obtained by CrimeWorld said the retired senior Police officer’s choice for the job followed his sterling and enviable track record while in service. The statement reads: “ Governor Hope Uzordimma of Imo State has appointed Mr. Dan Okoro, a retired Commissioner of Police (CP) as his Special Adviser on Security. Okoro comes into the job with a huge experience garnered both nationally and internationally over the years as a tested cop. Okoro is expected to assist Governor Uzodimma in fine-tuning and implementing the governor’s security policies and programmes that are in sync with his three “R” mantra of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery. The governor’s choice of Okoro has a lot to do with the former Commissioner Police’s profile and records of service in Nigeria Police Force where he retired after 35 years of service. While in service, Okoro was one of the most decorated policemen for his iconic breakthroughs like the arrest of the Sierra Leonean rebel leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Foday Sankoh at the Lagos Airport. He was at different times commended and decorated by Nigeria’s past leaders, including late General Sani Abacha and former President Goodluck Jonathan for his crime bursting wits and patriotic disposition. A graduate of Law from the University of Lagos, Okoro also has master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho, as well as a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Public Administration from the Imo State University, Owerri. Okoro has received training at the Egyptian Police Academy and at the Israeli Intelligence Agency, Mossad, among other high profile exposures he got nationally and internationally on security matters. He is married with family.”
See Okoro’s track record and reasons for his appointment:
CP Okoro is expected to assist Uzodimma is fine-tuning policies and programmes that would help in strengthening security in the tourists state. Okoro would also bring his long years of experience in intelligence to bear and help the governor check violent crimes, kidnapping and other crimes peculiar to oil producing state like Imo. Okoro is a cop of many iconic breakthroughs. He was one of the most decorated police man during his time in the system. Sierra Leonian Rebel Leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Foday Sankoh’s arrest at Lagos airport was Okoro’s first shot to limelight. He received commendation from Gen Sani Abacha, for his tact and patriotism. Okoro became a celebrity in Nigeria, where he won many awards and also received a medal for his courage and intelligence from former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, after he arrested Lagos-based Internet fraudsters who killed Cynthia Osokogu, a postgraduate student of Nasarawa State University and daughter of a retired General, Frank Osokogu. Okoro was also commended for rejecting N15million offered to release the killers on bail. He again successfully prosecuted the killers and got death sentences for them. Before then, he had received the IGP Ibrahim Coomasie Award for Brilliant Investigation and Courage; award from the Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the late Gen. Musa Bamaiyi for dedication and tact, when he recovered hard drugs worth several millions of naira at the airport. He won the Best Area Commander in Nigeria award in 2013 at a ceremony in Ghana, and he was acclaimed as the Best Forensic Investigator in West Africa at an event organized by Security Watch Africa, in South Africa, among other recognitions. As the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of the Area ‘E’ Command in Festac Town, where he busted the Osokogu case, Okoro also cracked several cases including that of a 26-year-old Ijeoma Nwachukwu, who was killed by a jealous lover in a hotel at Abule‑Oshun area of Lagos, and that of Lizzy Njideka Nzewi, a mother of four and the Managing Director of Edmark International, a networking company. Lizzy was also killed by a 31-year-old lover-boy, Kenechukwu Williams, at her Green Estate home in Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos. The lover-boy, who stole her ATM card and Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), fled to Ghana and Ivory Coast, he was pursued across the border by Okoro with support from INTERPOL, and the killer was nabbed as he was attempting to flee from the West African country, where he had had a Thanksgiving at a church on his arrival. While in Festac Town, Okoro also recovered N30million from armed robbers and handed it over to the owner, a trader from Onitsha. He also smashed a gang of kidnappers terrorizing Lagos from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and arrested killers of a Customs Comptroller, Ody Nweze. Okoro was the first officer to confront the notorious kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike aka Evans, on the day the gang attempted to kidnap the owner of Young Shall Grow Motors in Festac Town. Two police officers were killed in the encounter, and the businessman was seriously injured with a shot close to his heart. Okoro and his team killed two members of Evans gang and recovered two AK 47 rifles, over 400 rounds of ammunition, and 12 loaded magazines. Okoro, a graduate of University of Lagos, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, and Imo State University, Owerri, bagged a degree in Law (LLB), a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. He had also received training at the Egyptian Police Academy and at the Israeli Intelligence Agency, Mossad. He is one of the few police officers in Africa to read Maritime Law, specializing in Customs documentation, Import papers and Ship/Shipping processes, which gave him an added advantage in cracking complicated imports/ Customs/clearing and forwarding related landmark cases at the sea and airports. Okoro headed the investigative team set up by the Inspector General of Police to look into the Rivers state rerun election. While presenting his report to the IGP, Okoro said over N111million was recovered. He said that the committee established cases of misconduct against some electoral officers and law enforcement agents, who were compromised in their line of duties. There are some other big accomplishments from the chief detective himself. Okoro headed a technical subcommittee in the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and made immense contributions in the recovery of N117billion from duties, excise and tariffs not remitted. When the Senate committee needed police expertise in the effective performance of its oversight functions, the committee wrote to the IGP and the lot fell on Okoro as a first choice. Aeroplane Looters in Shasha: Notorious robbers residing in Shasha area, within the environs of the MMIA, often attack foreign aircraft on the runway as the aeroplanes are awaiting clearance for takeoff. The attacks on departing aircraft, vandalism of aeroplanes and looting of passengers baggage became very worrisome that FAAN requested the then IGP to detail Okoro to investigate and nail the criminals. He swung into action. He reportedly slept in the bush around Shasha and the swampy end of Runway 19 Right of Muritala Mohammad International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja for 14 days before he could arrest the suspects and hand them over to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). He later successfully prosecuted the criminals. There was also the Hollywood style heist in Akure, Ondo State, where robbers dug the fence at the back of a bank through a tunnel ending near a bridge in the capital city., The robbers channelled the route to the strong-room of United Bank for Africa (UBA). Like the notorious robbers who dug an 80-metre tunnel to raid the vault of a Central Bank in Brazil on August 8, 2005, the Akure bank robbers made it to the vault through the tunnel and swept it clean. Okoro was on routine visiting rounds of banks, pin down points, vulnerable areas and black spots in Akure area, when he stumbled on the tunnel. What attracted him were the unusual sand heap and the fresh nature of the sand. He was again assigned the task of tracking the robbers. He did. That was the first reported case of tunnel-related robbery in Nigeria. Missing NAHCO Goods and Mysterious Disappearance of Foreign Goods Once, there were a series of reports of missing valuables from Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) warehouse at the MMIA. The management of NAHCO and that of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) became concerned as foreign airlines threatened to withdraw their cargo flights to Nigeria. The mysterious disappearance of foreign cargo between the tarmac and NAHCO warehouse had grown to a level where foreign airlines threatened to withdraw their services to the country. The reported cases of missing goods, short-landing and pilfered containers got to Okoro and he was invited by the management of NAHCO to unravel the crime. After about 16 days of surveillance and discreet investigations, the thieves stormed the warehouse one night with several trucks and a trailer. The warehouse was opened by some staff of NAHCO and the looters cleared as many items as they could. On their way out, Okoro and his team were at the gate waiting. He ordered that the gates be locked and arrested all the suspects including the sponsors, including some NAHCO staff. The Managing Director of NAHCO at the time, Mr Chris Hassan, honoured Okoro with an award.
*Pix L-R Gov. Uzodimma and CP Okoro Rtd after his appointment…
Diversion of Chisco’s Ship Load of Rice: A gang of robbers had escaped to Saudi Arabia after diverting a vessel and selling the contents that belonged to Chisco Nigeria Ltd. The stolen goods including bags of rice and other valuables were cleared from the ports with fake Customs documents, without payments to the federal government coffers and in some instances with forged documents presented to banks. In this instance, fake bank payment receipts were in the possession of the common criminals. Okoro was called by the then IGP, Mr Tafa Balogun, who asked him to look into the matter and report back quickly. Within 10 days, Okoro tracked the suspects and found that they were on their way back from Saudi Arabia unaware that the police were still searching. Okoro was at the airport to welcome them when they arrived. He arrested all the suspects and rejected an offer of $50,000 bribe. He also traced and recovered some of the looted goods. A shipload of rice and other goods diverted were recovered. The CEO of Chisco group of companies not only commended Okoro; he recommended him to the then IGP for recognition. The fear of Ports FCIID was enough for the clearing agents, importers and shipping agents to do the needful. At both the sea and airports where he served, Okoro was in total control, performing his duties diligently, professionally and with the fear of God. The results of his breakthroughs gave him the needed leverage. Vital documents belonging to the Managing Director of NAHCO were among items stolen when some robbers stormed a bank within NAHCO premises. Over N15million was looted, and it appeared that was not enough for the gang. The robbers returned to the bank not long after to finish what they started. But Okoro was waiting. He did not arrest them immediately but followed them to their hideout in Agege, where he pounced on them as they finished sharing the loot. He followed the gang leader to a church in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he was arrested. From the proceeds of the robbery, the gang leader had donated chairs, musical equipment and other items to the church. When he sighted Okoro in the church pretending to be a worshiper, he quickly took refuge in the Pastor’s inner room. Okoro stormed the room to arrest him and the pastor during the church service. He recovered the stolen documents among other things. Following this breakthrough among others, the security council comprising heads of all agencies at the ports met and appointed Okoro as Head of NIPOST Offences and Intelligence Team (NOIT). He was involved in the security surveillance of the ports. As Chairman of NOIT, he recovered tons of bags of fraudulent emails, scam letters from cybercriminals, who used the ports to dispatch such emails to unsuspecting victims. Some traders had arrived Mazamaza, at Mile 2 area of Lagos, conveying some N60million in various currencies – Dollars, Naira, French Franc and Pounds from their boss’ business partners in Cotonou, who operate a Bureau de Change. On arrival in Lagos at night, the traders who were to take the money to their boss in Onitsha were attacked by robbers. Okoro was on his way home at about 3.a.m, when he sighted the struggle between the robbers and their victims. He stopped the patrol and engaged the robbers in a gun duel. Some of the bandits were shot and wounded while others had to flee leaving the loot behind, after several attempts to cart away the money was resisted by Okoro, who gave the robbers a good fight. When the agents were asked what was in the Peak milk cartoon, they initially claimed to be tins of Peak milk and tomato, their uncoordinated answers arouse Okoro’s suspicions. He arrested them immediately. Asked how they came about the items, they mentioned their boss in Onitsha. But when the cartons were opened, it was filled with different denominations of currencies. A call by Okoro to the businessman in Onitsha solved the mystery and the money was handed over to him intact. A gang operating at the Airport had conspired and stolen a bag load of $350,000 that belonged to Cameroun Airlines. Members of the gang stationed themselves at the tail end of the passengers’ luggage conveyor belt where the baggage are loaded into aircraft. On that day, the thieves had positioned themselves. As the bag containing the huge sum came into sight, instead of loading it onto the aircraft they carted it away. In the cause of investigations, Okoro became a bag cargo moving through the conveyor belt as other passengers’ bag. He landed at the other end in the hands of some people who were busy pilfering passengers belongings. He sprang a surprise and arrested the hoodlums. The stolen $350,000 was eventually recovered and returned to the airline. There was also the case of some traders who contributed money that was sent to their foreign partners and manufacturers for importation and purchase of items. The money was, however, intercepted and diverted by fraudsters who were into money laundering. Okoro moved in, and within days, he smashed the gang and recovered $50,000.
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