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Lawrence Anebi Onoja
Governor of Plateau State

In office
1986 – July 1988
Preceded by Chris Alli
Succeeded by Aliyu Kama
Governor of Katsina State

In office
July 1988 – December 1989
Preceded by Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar
Succeeded by John Jahaya Madaki
Personal details
Born 10 August 1948(1948-08-10) (age 74)
Ohimini LGA, Benue State, Nigeria

Major General (retired) Lawrence Anebi Onoja was the military governor of Plateau State, Nigeria from 1986 to July 1988 and then of Katsina State until December 1989 during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.[1] He later became Principal Staff Officer to General Sani Abacha, before being arrested for alleged involvement in a coup attempt. He retired from the army in 1998, and after the return to democracy in May 1999 with the Nigerian Fourth Republic entered into politics.[2]


Onoja was born on 10 August 1948 at Idekpa Okpiko, Ohimini local government in Benue State of Idoma origins. He attended St. Francis College, Otukpo and then Government College in Lafia, Nasarawa State (1962–1966). He joined the army in 1966 as a cadet officer.[3]

Onoja attended the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, England. Onoja was commissioned into the Nigerian Army in October 1968. While in the army, Onoja attended Cameron University, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, earning a degree in Political Science. He later obtained an M.Sc. in Political Science from the University of Jos, and a PhD in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Jos.[2]

Onoja held various appointments including Defence Adviser at the Nigerian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.[2] Onoja was Principal Staff Officer to General Ibrahim Babangida before being appointed military governor of Plateau State in July 1988.[4]

Military Governor

As Plateau State governor, in an effort to defuse tension between Christians and Moslems, Onoja (a Christian) announced that all public places of worship would be destroyed.[5] In April 1988 he was forced to shut down the University of Jos following student disturbances.[6] As military governor in Katsina State Onoja was noted for his honesty.[3] In March 1989 he announced that a US $20 million loan from Saudi Arabia was being negotiated for the Zobe Dam agricultural irrigation project.[7]

Later career

After leaving office as governor of Katsina, Onoja was appointed director of the Faculty of Joint Studies in the Command and Staff College, Jaji, and then in 1991 became principal officer to the Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Defence.[8] He was then appointed General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos, and General Staff Officer in the Presidency of General Sani Abacha.[2] In 1998 he was arrested for allegedly being involved in a plot to depose Abacha, but was set free when no charges were brought against him.[3]

Onoja retired from the army in 1998 as a Major General.[2] In 2003 he was a board member of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.[2] Onoja was a Governorship aspirant in the 2003 Benue State elections on the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP) platform.[2] He competed against incumbent David Mark in the People's Democratic Party (PDP) primaries to be candidate for Senator in Benue South in December 2006.[9] In the bitter fight, Onoja went as far as signing an advertorial in a national newspaper that support former Benue governor George Akume.[10] The contest was close, with Mark gaining 1,719 votes and Onoja 1,605.[11] Although Mark did not gain the 2/3 majority required by the PDP, Onoja accepted the result.[12]

In April 2009, President Umaru Yar'Adua named Onoja as Chairman of the National Institute for Sports.[13] In 2009, the Idekpa Community of Ohimini local government area in Benue State honored Onoja with the chieftaincy title of Ooyame K’Idekpa, or "Achiever Par Excellence". They also urged him to run for Senate in 2011.[3]


  • Lawrence Anebi Onoja (1996). Peace-keeping and international security in a changing world. Mono Expressions. ISBN 978-32052-5-0. 


  1. "Nigerian States". WorldStatesmen. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Madaki O. Ameh (2003-01-09). "Lawrence Onoja: The Force for Positive Change In Benue State". ThisDay. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "At 61, a senatorial challenge for Lawrence Onoja". Daily Trust. 18 AUGUST 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  4. Africa research bulletin: Political series, Volume 23, Issues 1-11. Africa Research Ltd.. 1986. p. 8187. 
  5. Jan Harm Boer (2004). Muslims: why the violence?. Essence Pub.. p. 30. ISBN 1-55306-719-3. 
  6. Akpenpuun Dzurgba (2006). Prevention and management of conflict. Loud Books. p. 70. ISBN 978-37619-7-8. 
  7. The national register: Nigeria's record of events. Tycoon Newspapers Ltd.. 1989. p. 27. 
  8. West Africa. West Africa Pub. Co., ltd.. 1991. p. 151. 
  9. Anza Philips (June 4, 2007). "Casualties of April Elections". Newswatch. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  10. Simeon Nwakaudu and Isa Abdulsalami (July 22, 2008). "Idoma leaders close ranks for Mark, set fresh agenda". Nigeria Daily News. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  11. Terna Doki (14 March 2010). "Mark And Benue South Senatorial Race". Daily Independent. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  12. Uja Emmanuel (6/01/2010). "Benue Generals, politicians jostle for senatorial seats". the Nation. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  13. Ihuoma Chiedozie (10 Apr 2009). "Yar’Adua okays governing boards for agencies, others". The Punch. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 

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