The Police Service Commission (PSC) has debunked allegations that officers of Igbo extraction are being marginalized in the Nigerian Police Force to the extent that presently, there is no officer of the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in the force.
The commission said that three officers of the rank of AIG were officers of Igbo extraction until recently when one retired after 35 years in service.
It added that promotions in the Police in not based on Federal Character principle but on seniority, availability and merit among other criteria.
According to a statement signed by Comfort Obi, the Commissioner, representing the Media/South East in the Commission, “The attention of the Police Service Commission has been drawn to a media publication (not Vanguard), where its Chairman, Dr. Mike Mbama Okiro, a retired IGP, was quoted to have said that the Federal Character principle should be blamed for the marginalization of the Igbo in the senior cadre of the Nigeria Police Force.
“The Commission notes the statistics published by the media organization on the spread of officers on the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Cadre and that of Commissioners of Police where it erroneously stated that out of the 24 AIGs presently in the Nigeria Police Force, none is an Igbo man”.
It said, “The Igbo have serving AIGs in the Nigeria Police Force. They include AIG Paul E OKafor from Anambra State who is presently AIG zone 11, Osogbo, and AIG Charles Ugomouh from Aboh Mbaise, Imo State who is the AIG in charge of Medical Services, Animal Branch.
“AIG Isaac Eke was, until recently, the AIG in charge of Zone 5 Benin. There are also more than six Commissioners of Police from the Igbo extraction.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission wishes to state that the publication was misleading and baseless, capable of igniting ethnic crisis.
“The Chairman of the Commission did not at any time blame the principle of federal character for short-changing the South East Police officers in their advancement to the top hierarchy of the Force, nor did he say that the Igbo have no AIG out of the 24 AIGs.
“As a former Inspector General of Police, Dr. Okiro knows more than enough that career progression in the Nigeria Police force is not based on federal Character.
“He knows, and has superintended over a Commission that has continued to place premium on merit, seniority and availability of vacancies as bases for promotion in the Nigeria Police Force.
“For years now, promotion in the Nigeria Police Force from the rank of Constable to AIG has been strictly based on the above criteria and not on federal character or any other consideration.
“Federal Character is used only at the three entry points into the Nigeria Police Force – Constable, Cadet Inspector and Cadet ASP.
The PSC added, “It is necessary to state that the spread of senior police officers remain flexible as officers are promoted as their seniors retire or exit the service through retirement or death.
“And since promotions are based on merit and seniority, any tribe at any time could dominate the cadres in the senior hierarchy of the force.
“The Commission will remain resolute in its commitment to equity, fairness and merit in its management of its constitutional responsibilities and will also be guided by the rule of law and fear of God.”