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Police constables lament unpaid salaries

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By Abraham Adekunle

Thousands of recent recruits say they resort to alms, extortion and bribes.

Ten thousand police constables were recruited into the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in December 2022. These new recruitment was spread over the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Nigeria with due regard to federal character considerations and in line with President Buhari’s directives. The event signified the transition of the recruits mainstream professional policing duties with the right orientation to meet emerging security challenges as dictated by the law. Consequently, the constables were deployed to provide security during the just-concluded 2023 general elections.

Unfortunately, these new recruits have cried out to the media that they have not been paid salaries for the past four months. This means they had not been paid since they were employed in December despite resuming at their duty posts across the country. One of the affected officers told the press that the situation has demoralized many of them because they are finding it difficult to make ends meet and be responsible to their families.

Officers survive on extortion due to delay in salary payment.

This officer stated that most of the constables survive by resorting to bribes, extortion and even donations. He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to come to their aid and save them from being dependent on others for daily bread. He said that the recruits work 12 hours a day every week. This gives them time for nothing else while they die in silence. “They are indirectly teaching us corrupt practices,” one of them said.

One of the concerning issues that was also raised was that they cannot protest because it is against the regulations of the police. Recently, the Force’s Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has debunked the rumored strike of members of the Force. In a series of tweets, he reacted to online news publications that a mega protest was being planned in Lagos by policemen over alleged unpaid arrears. He categorically said that it was impossible that policemen protest or embark on strike.

Those not captured on IPPIS cannot be paid, says service commission.

Adejobi said that the Police Force is not where its personnel meet and deliberate on protesting or striking. “Police Force is not a labor union or group,” he tweeted. “It’s not possible. We know and are aware of some “don’ts” in the NPF being a regimental organization.” The PRO said that the organization is disciplined and it upholds ethics and sanctity of traditions and doctrines. The officer who raised this issue with the media said that the Force has been posting them to various special duties as if they are already being paid. These duties cannot be refused because they are official orders.

In January 2023, the Police Service Commission (PSC) ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation to pause the capturing of the newly recruited 10,000 constables on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel System (IPPIS). The reason that the commission gave is that the police officers had not been issued their letters of appointment and, thus, should not be enrolled on the payment portal. According to the Public Service Rules, public officers not captured on the IPPIS cannot be paid salaries and other emoluments.

Power tussle between authorities tramples constables’ rights.

This recent development was as a result of the refusal of the Inspector-General of police to submit officers’ names to the PSC for vetting on the grounds that he was empowered by the Police Act 2020 to recruit constables into the force. The commission had also written to the President and the Head of Service, Folasade Yemi-Esan, about the enrollment of police officers on the salary portal without letters of appointment. Though the Court of Appeal on September 30, 2020 ruled that the commission had the constitutional mandate to recruit constables, the NPF had gone ahead with the recruitment process in defiance of the court order. This is what the new recruits have experienced on the ground.

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