PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s official spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu has dismissed suggestions that the next inspector-general of police must come from the southeast geo-political zone as a matter of course in line with Nigeria’s zoning principle.
Last month, President Buhari replaced all his service chiefs, appointing new officers to the positions of chief of defence staff, chief of army staff, chief of naval staff and chief of air staff. A new inspector-general of police is expected to be named to replace the incumbent Mohammed Adamu and there are calls that he should be Igbo as the southeast lost out with the other appointments.
With the service chief appointments, chief of general staff Major General Lucky Irabor is from the south-south, chief of army staff Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru is from the northwest, chief of naval staff Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo is also from the northwest, while the chief of air staff Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao is from the southwest. Mr Adamu’s tenure officially expired yesterday, triggering anxiety about who will be appointed to replace him.
Already, the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), has asked the president to ensure the next police boss is Igbo, saying failure to do so was inimical to the unity of the country. They added that this was more so as none of the recently-departed service chiefs either was Igbo.
A CNEPD spokesman said: “We received with great excitement news of the sacking of the former service chiefs of the country by the president. It is quite commendable that the president finally listened to the clarion call by Nigerians to that effect.
“However, the composition of the service chiefs greeted us with mixed feelings and sincere concerns. We strongly believe that the list does not meet a fair list as it is lacking in fairness, justice and equity to the south easterners.”
However, Mallam Shehu, said: “The language that is being used is that there should be an Igbo service chief and this is a country with more than 250 ethnic groups. If you are going to appoint a service chief from every ethnic group in this country, you are going to have more than 250 inspectors-general of police, 250 chiefs of army staff and 250 chiefs of naval staff.
“If we said that we are going to use ethnicity or religion as the basis, then, we have lost it. This is about law and order and not about ethnic identity. Look at what happened with the service chiefs appointed now – two from the south, two from the north. If you are talking about religion, there are two Muslims and two Christians.”
He added that President Buhari would decide on the next inspector-general of police when he returns to Aso Villa from Daura, Katsina State, later this week. President Buhari who travelled to Daura last week for his party’s re-registration and re-validation, is expected back in Abuja today.
Many commentators, have however, tipped assistant inspector general of police Moses Ambakina Jitoboh to become the next boss. A native of Bayelsa State, he was once President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide-camp and at one time headed Nigeria’s Border Patrol unit.