The marginalization of the Igbos has become a recurrent decimal over the years – especially in the nation’s uniformed forces, like the military, the Customs Service, the Immigrations and the Police Force.
Contrary to the provisions of the Federal Character Principle, it is evident that equity and fairness are far from being at play with respect to the promotion of senior Igbo officers in the Nigeria Police Force.
Stakeholders have complained that out of 24 Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), none is from the South East. Similarly, out of about 90 Commissioners of Police believed to be the nucleus of the force, only about six are from the South East geopolitical zone.
Surprisingly, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mike Okiro, has fingered the Principle of Federal Character as shortchanging the South East Police officers in their advancement to the top hierarchy of the Force.
Reacting to complaints by stakeholders in the South East that the zone has been grossly marginalised in the promotion of its top officers within the Police Force, Okiro, who spoke to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra, defended the Police Service Commission of any complicity in the marginalization of any zone in the country.
Okiro insisted that the PSC complied strictly with the provisions of the Federal Character Principle in the promotion of officers.
He explained that the strict application of the principle has reduced the chances of the officers from the zone from being promoted to the echelon of the Police Force.
South East stakeholders had, in their constant complaint of marginalisation in the promotion of its top officers within the Police Force, noted that when the police hierarchy reluctantly promoted a few of them, they were not given the opportunity to man strategic command positions.
Speaking to The AUTHORITY on phone on the issue, the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Police Service Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said that he was not aware that his boss made such a statement, adding that he did not travel with him to the occasion. “I’m not aware and I was not there”, he said.
However, he explained that the Federal Character Principle comes in at the point of entry in the Force.
He listed merit, seniority and availability of establishment vacancies as factors responsible for career progression.
Ani further explained that promotion from the rank of Constable to AIG is strictly guided by merit, seniority and available vacancies.
However, The AUTHORITY gathered from a source in the Police, who preferred anonymity, that Okiro was being economical with the truth on the marginalisation of the Ndigbo.
The source argued that if the Federal Character Principle was adhered to strictly, the South East would get at least four AIGs and about 15 Commissioners of Police.
But Okiro, who is also a former Inspector-General of Police and whose PSC was charged with the responsibility of recruiting, promoting and disciplining of officers from the ranks of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) to Deputy Inspectors-General (DIG), denied that some ethnic nationalities were systematically marginalised in such promotion exercises.
The AUTHORITY further gathered that the South East zone is marginalised because the North has more states and local governments than the South East. The source argued that promotions are shared in likewise manner.
Okiro, who spoke at a social event, stressed the need for the governments at all levels in the country to collaborate to create a conducive environment for security of life and property of citizens.
“Security is so critical to all of us that we must seek it first like the Kingdom of God, so that every other thing would be added unto us. As the yuletide fast approaches, everybody must be very careful and should be security conscious about his or her own environment”, Okiro added.