Saturday, April 29, 2017


29th April, 2017

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 the North.    

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)

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