According to a report by SaharaReporters, thousands of constables who were recently recruited into the Nigeria Police Force have cried out over unpaid salaries.
The officers have reportedly not been paid salaries for the past four months.
The recruits passed out of the police training institutions on December 29, 2020, and have not been paid since then despite resuming at their duty posts across the country.
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Speaking to SaharaReporters, one of the affected officers said that the situation had demoralised many of them as they were finding it difficult to meet their responsibilities to their families.
He added that most of the constables were “surviving on bribes and extortion” due to the delay in the payment of salaries.
According to him, they have been reporting at their respective duty posts without pay since January 2023.
The police constable 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.
“Please something is happening concerning Nigeria Police Force new recruit constables that passed out on December 29, 2022. We have spent four months now and the police authorities, police service commission and federal government have refused to pay us.
“And we are working 12 hours a day, for the whole week. No time for any other things, please we are suffering and dying of hunger already. They are indirectly teaching us corrupt practices,” one of them said.
“We now beg for food and transport fee to go to work and we cannot protest because it’s against the police regulations.
“And the worst part of this is that we are being posted to various special duties like we are already being paid. And we must go because it’s an order. We must look for means either good or bad,” another policeman said.
In January, the Police Service Commission asked the Accountant-General of the Federation to halt the capture of the 10,000 constables on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel System.
According to the commission, the police officers had not been issued their letters of appointment and 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.
The development followed the alleged refusal of the Inspector-General of Police to submit their 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, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and the Head of Service, Folasade Yemi-Esan about the enrolment of police officers on the salary portal without letters of appointment.
The personnel were recruited in 2020 and 2021.
The face-off between the police authorities and the commission is a spill-over of their supremacy fight over the right to recruit constables.
Though the Court of Appeal 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.
In 2022, the police appealed against the judgment to the Supreme Court, two years after the order was handed down.
Before its appeal and in spite of the court order restraining the police from conducting constables’ recruitment, the authorities had recruited a total of 10,000 constables in the 2020 recruitment exercise.
In 2020 and 2021, two batches of 20,000 cops were recruited without the active involvement of the PSC under a former IG, Musiliu Smith, who resigned in September, 2022, on the grounds of ill-health.
Over the past years, there have been issues involving the PSC and NPF over the provisions of part one of the third schedule to the 1999 constitution (as amended) and section 18(1) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020.
In 2019, Mohammed Adamu, former IGP, recruited 10,000 constables into the Force.
Displeased by the decision of Adamu, the Police Service Commission filed a suit against the action of the IGP, saying it is the commission that is constitutionally empowered to carry out such recruitment.
At the Federal High Court, the powers of the IGP to carry out the said recruitment were upheld but the Appeal Court later ruled that the PSC has the constitutional responsibility of recruiting police constables.
The Court of Appeal also declared the Police Act 2020, as it affects the constitutional mandate of PSC in terms of recruitment, as illegal.
Highlighting the powers of PSC, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 constitution (as amended) states that: “The Commission shall have power to — a. appoint persons to offices (other than office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force.”
On the other hand, section 18(1) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020 states: “The responsibility for the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy shall be the duty of the Inspector-General of Police.”