Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Nepotism: IGP Egbetokun or Amotekun? by Bukar Dangwani

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In recent developments, concerns have been raised regarding the leadership approach of the 22nd Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Nigeria, Kayode Egbetokun, since his appointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on June 19, 2023.

Critics accuse IGP Egbetokun of bias in postings and appointments within the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), favoring officers of Yoruba ethnicity, thereby compromising the federal character principle that ensures representation of Nigeria’s diverse ethnic groups.

The IGP is clearly running the force like the South West regional security outfit codenamed Amotekun.

As if the force headquarters is Amotekun headquarters, the composition of the IGP’s secretariat, traditionally reflective of Nigeria’s ethnic diversity, is now dominated by officers of Yoruba descent. Key positions such as the Force Secretary, Principal Staff Officer (PSO), Force Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Detail, Personal Assistant (PA), orderly, and others are alleged to be held exclusively by Yoruba men. This unprecedented move has sparked concerns about the erosion of the federal character principle within the NPF.

Furthermore, there is a growing concern over the lopsided allocation of postings to strategic and economically significant states such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Anambra, and Edo, which officers of Yoruba ethnicity reportedly dominate. This trend extends beyond to encompass critical operational and tactical command positions. Postings such as Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Assistant Commissioners (ACs) of Operations, Commanders of the Mobile Police Force (Mopol), Commanders of the Special Protection Unit (SPU), Commanders of the Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU), and even their second-in-commands (2ics), Administrative Officers, and other crucial positions are said to be predominantly filled by Yoruba officers.

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Amidst these allegations, IGP Egbetokun’s commitment to addressing the nation’s security challenges has come under intense scrutiny. Critics argue that rather than touring the country and providing the necessary leadership to officers and men combating insurgency, kidnappings, and banditry across the North, as well as the IPOB issue in the East, IGP Egbetokun is frequently spotted at social events in Lagos. His presence, often accompanied by lengthy convoys, raises questions about his dedication to his primary duty of ensuring national security. Furthermore, his delayed response to serious incidents such as in Plateau State, where over 200 people were killed on 24th December 2023, the recent kidnapping of over 200 women, girls, and boys in an IDP Camp in Maiduguri by Bomp Haram, and the kidnapping of 287 school children in Kuriga, Kaduna State has only intensified concerns about where his priorities lie. In many instances, the IGP has either not visited the affected areas or has delayed his visitation, sometimes by up to seven days. Adding to the controversy, it has been observed that IGP Egbetokun spends weekends in Lagos, lodging in luxury hotels such as Marriott, Sheraton, Black Diamond, Intercontinental, Eko, etc., despite having an official residence. This practice, coupled with reports of him using private jets for weekend trips to and from Lagos, is seen as a wasteful use of resources at a time when the country is grappling with pressing security challenges.

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Reports from several independent investigations have raised alarm bells, indicating that if President Bola Ahmed Tinubu does not urgently intervene to address the prevailing nepotism within the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), there may be severe repercussions. Officers from marginalized ethnic groups, feeling sidelined and neglected, are rumored to be on the brink of organizing strike actions and protests against the policies of the current Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun. Such internal unrest within the ranks of the NPF could significantly exacerbate the already fragile security situation in Nigeria. Immediate and decisive action must be taken to prevent these potential strikes or protests, as they could not only embolden criminal elements but also have dire implications for national security. The time for the President and relevant stakeholders to act is now to avert any potential embarrassment and ensure the stability and effectiveness of the nation’s police force in maintaining law and order.

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The integrity and effectiveness of the police force are crucial for maintaining internal security, especially in a country grappling with diverse security challenges. It is imperative that appointments and postings within the NPF are based on competence and merit rather than tribal affiliations to foster unity and effectiveness in the fight against insecurity. Failure to address these issues could undermine the police force’s role in maintaining peace and security, further exacerbating the already tense security situation in Nigeria.

In conclusion, the allegations of lopsided postings and appointments within the Nigeria Police Force under IGP Kayode Egbetokun’s leadership warrant serious attention and investigation. The implications of such practices, if true, are far-reaching and could potentially compromise the effectiveness and impartiality of the police force. As the primary institution responsible for maintaining law and order, the NPF must adhere to principles of fairness, inclusivity, and meritocracy. It is crucial that the leadership of the NPF takes immediate steps to address these concerns and restore public confidence in the institution’s commitment to serving all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic background.

Mr Dangwani writes from Abuja.

 

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