Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Open Letter: Redeployment Of Senior Nigerian Police Officers

Ref.: Intersociety/08/04/014/FGN/ABJ/NG/NPF

His Excellency
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation
The SGF Office, Shehu Shagari Complex
Three Arms Zone, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

2.  Senator David Mark, President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Senate Chambers, National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zones, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

3. Honourable Aminu Tambuwal
Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria
The House of Reps Chambers, National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zone, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

4. Prof. Shuaibu Oba AbdulRaheem
Executive Chairman, Federal Character Commission
The FCC Headquarters, Plot 64, First Avenue
Off Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama
FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

5. IGP (rtd.) Mike Mbama Okiro
Chairman, Police Service Commission
The PSC Headquarters, Federal Secretariat Complex
Shehu Shagari Way, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

Redeployment Of Senior Police Officers: Why Acting IGP’s Confirmation Should Be Tied To His Handling Of  Ethno-Religious Domination & Lopsided Operational Posting & Assignment Of Strategic Duties In The NPF
General Information: In early February 2014, our organization (International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law) discovered existing ethno-religious domination in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). The discovery was in respect of promotion of senior police officers carried out constitutionally by the Police Service Commission (PSC) and operational posting and assignment of duties, which are constitutionally performed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP). The discovery was also made in respect of the lopsided arrangement of names of serving senior police officers ranging from CSPs to DIGs.

1.   In the same February 2014 (4th, 5th and 6th), we addressed a three-part letter of protest to your important public offices seeking redress. Few months later, the Police Service Commission publicly promised to investigate and address the lopsidedness complained of. On 4th June 2014, new promotions comprising two AIGs, seven CPs and a number of other senior officers, were announced by the PSC. AIG Dr. Grace Chita Okudo of the NPF Medicals from Ebonyi State, Southeast Nigeria, was one of the two new AIGs. With her promotion, the Southeast geopolitical zone was remembered and included in the AIG list many months after it was excluded from it with reckless abandon. With her promotion, the zone got one AIG out of 23 serving AIGs in the NPF then.

On July 31st 2014, AIG Suleiman Abba was promoted to Acting Inspector General of Police. His promotion marked the third in row of the IGP from Northwest zone between 2010 and 2014. On August 19th 2014, eight new DIGs were promoted with Northwest and South/south zones getting two each while North-central, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest zones got one each. On 20th of August 2014, nineteen new AIGs were promoted, bringing the total number of serving AIGs to thirty-one, out of which Northwest has nine, followed by North-central with seven, South/south five, Southeast four and Northeast and Southwest three respectively. On August 23rd 2014, the Acting IGP, Suleiman Abba exercised his first major constitutional duty of redeploying the affected and newly promoted senior police officers. In the context of operational portfolio or “juicy” and “tea-making” duty assignments, he spread out the 12 Zonal Commands among five geopolitical zones lopsidedly
leaving out Southeast zone.

This he did by appointing eight Muslims to head eight strategic zonal commands leaving Christians with only four. He also allocated four zonal commands each to Northwest and North-central zones respectively. The South/south zone was given two zonal commands while Northeast and Southwest zones were given one each. Shockingly the Southeast zone was left without a single zonal command. No woman AIG was among those appointed heads of Zonal Commands. With this continued ethno-religious and gender discrimination by the Acting IGP, it is hugely feared that the redeployment of more senior police officers who are reportedly awaiting new promotion by the PSC including about twenty-eight coming CPs, will go the same way the redeployment of AIGs went. .

As it stands now, out of four new AIGs of Southeast origin, two (Godfrey E. Okeke) and (Felix Osita Uyanna) will retire on 16th September 2014 and 15th January 2015 respectively leaving the important zone with only two AIGs. Out of about 96 serving CPs, Southeast presently has three out of which one (Sylvester A. Umeh) will retire on 10th November 2014, leaving the zone with only two serving CPs out of 96 serving CPs in the NPF. 

Why We Write: Our writing your important public offices followed our recent public statements over the issue including our public statements of 21st, 22nd and 24th of August 2014 in which the two exercises were graphically analyzed and pitfalls inherent in them extensively pointed with far reaching recommendations. Our extensive investigations clearly showed that the major bane of the Nigeria Police Force is ethno-religious domination, which has bred seeming incurable corruption and policing mediocrity. This has also entrenched a culture of favoritism and nepotism in the Force. The NPF is also far from being a pluralistic police force direly needed in a pluralistic country like Nigeria.

In the course of our extensive investigations under reference, we also discovered a Stone Age practice whereby police officers from the Southeast zone have their promotions delayed or stunted for years resulting in “retirement era promotions”. The assignment of less important and less strategic duties to the officers under reference is also very common and indiscriminate in the NPF. These have resulted and still result to deep “police-citizen” protection disparity between indigenes of other federating tribes and Igbo federating tribe particularly during ethno-religious crises.

Demands: It is recalled that in early 2012 when former IGP, Mohammed Abubakar was appointed, police roadblock extortions and indiscriminate killings associated with them were widespread and they became a national calamity leading to a series of outcries by Nigerians and issuance of reports by local and international rights groups. Among such reports and publications issued then were “Everyone’s on the Game” (How Corruption Fuels Human Rights Abuses by the NPF): Human Rights Watch (August 2010) and “Corruption As Human Rights Abuse: How Personnel of the NPF Raked in N53.48Billion from Police Roadblocks in Three Years (2009-2011)” & “Nigeria In A State Of War: How 54,000 Citizens Were Killed Outside The Law Since 1999”: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (December 2011).
The foregoing advocacy actions then forced the Presidency to tie the confirmation of then Acting IGP (A-IGP), Mohammed Abubakar as substantive IGP on his management of the high incidence of police roadblock extortions and killings across the country. In a swift response so as to get substantively confirmed, then A-IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, dismantled most of the existing 3,500 police roadblocks across the country, which was prevalent and indiscriminate in the Southeast with over 1,500 of them. Thousands of potential victims of police roadblock killings and extortion ridden billions of naira were saved.

Today, crude ethno-religious domination policy in the NPF is as worse as, if not more menacing than police abuses and unlawful killings breading by roadblock extortions/corruption. While the Police Service Commission appears to have taken a bold step in addressing the Stone Age policy in its ongoing promotions, the A-IGP, Suleiman Abba appears hell bent in retaining the divisive and retrogressive policy in his ongoing operational duty assignments and postings. It gladdens our heart to inform your important public offices that Intersociety is not alone in the struggle to end this socially poisonous policy.

Just on Sunday, August 24th 2014, the Southeast zone of the federally ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) announced their total rejection of the new police posting under reference and called on the A-IGP and the PSC to look  into it so as to address it and ensure geopolitical balance in the exercise. This complimentary and commendable demand was made in Umuahia, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria during the meeting attended by key public office holders of the Party from the geopolitical zone, which included a number of State Governors, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, among others.

As your important public offices are aware, the gross lopsidedness under contention grossly violates Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as well as the Federal Character Act No 34 of 1996. The useless and crisis breading policy also attacks brutally the hallowed doctrines of equity, fairness, social integration and pluralism upon which the foundation of the country is laid.

In view of these, we firmly demand the following:
1. That the practice of ethno-religious domination and discrimination in the NPF in matters of promotions, operational duty postings and assignments should be publicly condemned and abolished by your important public offices.
2. That the Acting Inspector General of Police, A-IGP Suleiman Abba should be ordered to reverse the recent lopsided posting of AIGs particularly as it affects the headship of the Zonal Commands as well as exclusion of women AIGs from it.  Equitable geopolitical representation and fair gender representation must be ensured.
3. That the confirmation of A-IGP Suleiman A. Abba as the country’s substantive IGP by the Presidency should be tied to his effective and unbiased handling and reversal of  the despicable policy under contention. In other words, if he fails to address the despicable and condemnable issue under reference, then his confirmation should be swiftly reversed. He must show his secularist disposition and competence to lead the pluralistic NPF.
4. That henceforth, the issue of promotion and operational posting of senior police officers should strictly be tied to equitable zonal geopolitical representation and specifically, there shall be 12 DIG positions in the NPF out of which each zone should get two; 36 AIG positions out of which each zone should get six; and 90 CP positions out of which each zone should be given 15.
5. That out of existing 12 Zonal Commands in the country headed by AIGs, each zone should be given two; out of 36 State Police Commands in the country, each zone should be given six.
6. That all promotions made into the senior ranks of CSPs to DIGs as well as their operational postings and assignment of duties should be based on existing six geopolitical zonal spread.
7. That the policy of “promotion stagnancy or hanging” being used to maltreat the senior police officers of Southeast extraction should totally be abolished and prohibited; likewise promotion of the affected senior police officers in the twilight of their statutory retirement.
8. That once a senior police officer from a particular zone including the Southeast zone holding important police duty such as DIG, head of a zonal command or State Command CP retires, his or her position should be retained by another officer from the same zone. Same thing should apply in the case of promotion of senior officers particularly from CSP to DIG.
9. That the composition of current headships of important operational police departments such as State Commands, Special Protection Units, Anti Terrorism Squads, Police Border Patrols, Police Highway Patrols, Airport Police, Port Authority Police, Special Anti Robbery Squads, Police Mobile Force, Police Training Institutions, Area Commands and Divisional Police Commands,  should be revisited with a view to ensuring that they are not dominated by officers of a particular geopolitical zone or ethno-religious section of the country.
10. That the plight of Police Traffic Warding (PTWs) should be revisited and redressed particularly in the area of existing obnoxious Decree 21 of 1975, which has made them perpetual slaves in the hands of the NPF and abominably pegged the highest ranking in the Service to “Assistant Superintendent of Traffic”, which is an equivalent of Police ASP.

The obnoxious Act should be abrogated to make room for absorption of the over 8,000 personnel of the PTWs into the NPF Motor Traffic Division and remove them from age-long discriminatory practice particularly in ranking, promotion and duty control and assignment.

Yours Faithfully,
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi (Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)
Chairman of the Board

Barrister Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

Barrister Anita Onochie, Head, Security & Safety Program

Barrister Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil & Rule of Law Program

A-IGP Suleiman Abba, Acting Inspector General of Police
Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

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