This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Saturday, April 29, 2017
PERCEIVED LOPSIDEDNESS IN DSS RECRUITMENT: IT IS A CORRECTIVE MEASURE
IN DSS RECRUITMENT: IT IS A CORRECTIVE MEASURE
Premium Times, an
online media house, yesterday alleged lopsidedness in the recent recruitment
into the Department of State Services (DSS) which is apparently in favour of
Responding, the Presidency said the measure was taken to redress the
inequity in past recruitment exercises in the DSS which were carried out
between 2014 and 2016.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern
(MURIC) are constrained to put the incident in proper perspective because we
had complained about lack of equity in recruitments into all the security
agencies including the army, the navy, the DSS, and the Nigerian Police
(particularly the mobile police unit) since 2013.
It will be recalled
that in our press statement of 24th October 2016 captioned ‘Review
Recruitments and Promotions in the Nigerian Security Agencies’, MURIC cited the
example of the glaring marginalization of Muslim candidates in the 65th
Regular intake course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
In that recruitment, more Christians were picked in Muslim
majority states in the North. Only five Muslims were picked in Borno State as
against eight Christians. Only four Muslims were picked in Gombe as against ten
Christians while only three Muslims were picked in Kaduna State as against
eleven Christians. Infra dignitatem!Adamawa had four Muslims, nine
Christians while Taraba got three Muslims, ten Christians.
There have also been many cases of Christians given slots in Jigawa, Katsina,
Zamfara and even Sokoto. This has been the pattern for more than twenty years
now. Recruitments into the officer corps have steadily favoured Christians. What kind of criteria
could have justified such imbalance? It became glaring that somebody somewhere
was building an all-Christian army for Nigeria in the nearest future.
We have also complained that recruitments into key parastatals and
agencies, especially the SSS, NIA, the Police, the Armed Forces and even
paramilitary agencies, have been systematically skewed to favour Christians. To
add salt to injury, there have been massive expulsion and wholesale retirement
of Muslims in those sectors.
A look at the recruitment into the
SSS officer corp in 2013 showed that the outcry against the latest recruitment
of April 2017 is unjustifiable. It has taken the recent recruitment in
isolation without considering earlier figures. For example, Kano had six (6) in
the 2013 recruitment. Kebbi and Sokoto had three (3) each. Rivers State had thirty
eight (38) while Akwa Ibom had forty (40). The records are there if anybody
denies it. In addition, most of those
from Kaduna, Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kogi, Gombe , Ogun, Oyo and
Oshun States were predominantly Christians. What was the parameter used in
arriving at such preposterous figures?
At the Zaria Army depot, where other ranks of the Army are trained, over
11,000 were recruited and trained in the last five years and Christians
constitute a large majority. The training exercise is often characterised with
maltreatment of Muslims. More than forty Muslim recruits at the Zaria Army
Depot were expelled in 2013 with no explanation just a few weeks before the end
of their training.
In spite of the majority status of Muslims in the South West, recruitment
exercises for candidates from the sub-region always end up producing Christian
candidates only. The interests of minority Christians are always put above
those of majority Muslims in the South West. This is unacceptable. Unfortunately
this ugly phenomenon is not restricted to recruitments into the security agencies
alone. It is extended to ministerial and parastatal posts. All the five ministers
from the sub-region during the Jonathan regime were Christians and he only
conceded one to Muslims after the latter
protested to Aso Rock.
MURIC is constrained to ask, “Does
this not look like a plot to use predominantly Christian security agencies to intimidate,
traumatize and systematically wipe out Muslims in Nigeria? Does this explain
the constant massacre of Muslims by security agencies in some parts of the
country?” The fear of this reality is becoming palpable among Muslims.
It should be noted
that the authoritative Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a damming report on the last
major religious crisis in Jos, indicted the Mobile Police for singling out
Muslims for massacre. It cited more than a dozen incidents in which mainly
Muslims were rounded up and gunned down. In one incident alone, 44 Muslims were
lined up and shot.
HRW also listed seven other incidents of extra-judicial killings in which
soldiers shot 47 Muslims in a cold blooded manner. Although HRW called for a
probe of the Mobile Police nobody appears to care. It is didactic that the HRW
report concluded that: “The probe of the mobile police should go beyond its
role in the Jos crisis to unearth its recruitment policy, numerical strength
and the religious affiliations of its officers and men”.
It also added: “Unless
the roles played by the Mobile Police and fake soldiers are properly
investigated and the finding made public, other groups are likely to adopt
similar methods in the nearest future”.
A former Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, Mohammed Shehu, also observed
after the major religious crisis of year 2000, that there would be no end to
religious crises in Kaduna State unless the composition of the Police Force,
which was 80% Christians in Kaduna State was re-constituted.
It is on record that the Late Sultan Maccido interfaced with ex-President
Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 on the marginalization of Muslims in the security
agencies. That visit was an expression of the fear of elimination. Sultan
Maccido handed the Muslim petition to Obasanjo. This was followed by an
advertorial. Almost twelve years later, the lopsidedness in the recruitment
exercises have become even more reckless.
The reigning Sultan, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, also led a
Muslim delegation to ex-President Jonathan to lodge a similar complaint in 2014.
Yet nothing was done.
An important lesson to draw from the ongoing is that Nigerian heads of
state must avoid favoritism of any kind, whether based on ethnicity or
religion. Heads of state must realize that no disproportionate recruitment can
go unnoticed and the next administration led by somebody from another faith or
from another tribe will always seek to balance up and redress any injustice.
Any recruitment exercise which
fails to recognize the diversity of the Nigerian people must not be allowed to
stand if the letter and spirit of Section 14(4) of the Nigerian Constitution is
anything to go by.
FG must still review recruitments
into the mobile police, the army, the NIA, etc. In addition, we urge the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian
Army, to urgently embark on a general review of promotion exercises and
retirement cases in the last five years. Both serving and retired officers and
men who believe they have been unjustly denied promotion or unduly retired
should be encouraged to submit memoranda.
As we round up, we affirm that the Buhari administration has been very
fair to Christians and Southerners. We urge the regime to continue on this
course. We appeal to Nigerians to accept the recent recruitments in good faith
in view of the facts and figures which show that there had been gross
lopsidedness in earlier recruitments.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)