From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Reacting to the absence of a South-East appointee in the recent appointments of Service Chiefs, the Conference of Nigeria Civil Rights Defenders (CNCRD), has petitioned the National Assembly, urging it to mount pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to review federal appointments to reflect federal character principles.
The rights group called out what it called that the ‘exclusion’ of the Igbo, which it noted is the third-largest ethnic group in the country, from the security management team for the second time in the Buhari administration.
In the letter entitled, “Open Letter to the National Assembly on the Screening of the New Service Chiefs”, and dated February 15, CNCRD National Coordinator Dr Hassan Muhammad and National Secretary Barr Ibinabo Pere Jaja said the representative of the people should prevail on Mr President to correct the alleged gross injustice by reviewing the appointments.
The letter reads:
‘We write to throw our weight behind the Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on the exclusion of Igbo from South-East in the composition of the new service chiefs which to us, is a gross violation of the federal character principles and a clear bias against the Igbos.
‘We call on the National Assembly as the representative of the people to prevail on Mr President to correct this gross injustice by reviewing the appointments in the interest of justice and national unity.
‘While it is true that competency should be the criteria for appointment of this nature and not ethnic considerations, we must say that only when there is justice and equity that genuine peace and reconciliation can be achieved.
‘Igbo is the third largest tribe with qualified, competent, and tested officers in all the branches of the Armed Force of Nigeria.
‘We wonder why the Presidency did not look inward and pick one of them in two consecutive times that he made service chiefs’ appointments! What is really the sin of the Igbos? Or are other tribes more Nigeria than others?
‘Our position is premised on justice, fairness and equity and not personal or sectional sentiments.’
‘If nothing is done to address the several injustices being perpetrated against the Igbo and other regions, our corporate existence in Nigeria will have some question marks.
‘As a people and group who believe in the unity of Nigeria, we have to speak out.
‘South-East has consistently been marginalized in key appointments over time and there is an urgent need to address it now.
‘The National Assembly must prevail on the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to review the appointments of the new service chiefs to reflect national unity by including an officer from the South-East in the composition.
‘Appointing an Igbo person as one of the service chiefs will naturally give a large section of this country not just Igbos alone a complete sense of justice and a hope of a better Nigeria.
‘We wish to strongly commend other patriotic Nigerians who have risen in support of this call for a review in the composition of service chiefs. Patriotic Nigerians across the entire regions of our country have come in defence of this noble call.
‘This really shows that we have honest and just Nigerians from all parts of the country. We believe that we are better together this way.’