– Wants NASS to intervene
A group of civil rights advocates concerned on national unity, peace building and protection of human rights has described as a violation of federal character principles the recent appointments of service chiefs.
The group under the aegis of Conference Of Nigeria Civil Rights Defenders (CNCRD) has therefore written an open letter to the National Assembly asking them to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to correct the alleged wrongs before screening by the lawmakers.
CNCRD noted that the Igbo’s, the third largest ethnic group in the country should not be excluded from the security management team for the second time during this administration
In the letter, dated Monday, February 15,2021 and titled: “Open Letter to the National Assembly on the Screening of the New Service Chiefs”, the Conference of Nigeria Civil Rights Defenders, expressed its total support to the position of Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, for a review of the service chiefs’ composition, saying its position was for equity and fairness.
The group, in the letter signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Hassan Muhammad, and National Secretary, Barr. (Mrs) Ibinabo Pere Jaja,called “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.”
According to the letter “We are a coalition of civil society organizations whose thematic area of intervention is mainly on national unity, peace building and protection of human rights. This is what we have been doing for several years of our existence.
“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.”
The group said that leaving out officers of Igbo origin in two straight appointments into the position was a clear case of bias against the Igbo nation.
“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,”;it noted.
They said that “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? It asked.
The rights group explained that “Our position is premised on justice, fairness and equity and not personal or sectional sentiments.”
They said the unity of the country will be questioned “If nothing is done to address the several injustices being perpetrated against the Igbo and other regions, our corperate 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 Southeast 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,” the group noted.
The group hailed patriotic Nigerians for rising in defence of the review, saying the development was an indication that many Nigerians had risen above selfish interests.
“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,” the group added.