Nigeria Police Pension Fund, a Sham in reality

The plight of officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), including those still in service, has remained a recurring decimal over the years, with allegations of poor conditions of service and welfare.

The retired or dead do not fare better either.

This report x-rays the plight of the Nigerian Police, with respondents lamenting that the Police Pension scheme offers no measure of comfort at retirement or death.

Mrs. Stella Mubo, a wid­ow, took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, May 20, 2014, when she, still trying to make sense of the sudden death of her husband, Simon, a policeman, while in ac­tive service, when she was eject­ed from the Police barrack with her children while awaiting the benefits and other entitlements of the deceased who served for over 20 years

Hers was not the last as another widow, Mrs. Alice E. Bello, from Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State, stated that before the death of her husband, the family lived at Block 1 Flat 7 Mopol 20 Barracks, from where the Police threw her proper­ties out after a two-day quit notice. Pleas for more time fell on deaf ears, even as she was still mourning her husband who died in an auto acci­dent.

For Mrs. Mary James, a native of Ika South Local Government of Del­ta State, and wife of late Inspector Aghedo James, to say life is unfair is an understatement, as not only was the family ejected from their official quarters after the death of their breadwinner, their case took a new twist when she lost some of the documents needed for the settlement of the deceased’s entitlements in the chaos that followed the incidence.

She narrated how she has gone through “hell” to get the late husband’s entitlements, a situ­ation she blamed on the flawed wel­fare system in the Nigerian Police.

Respondents agree that the Nigerian Police, no doubt is faced with several challenges, including nepotism, ethnicism, corruption, in­stitutional weaknesses, inadequate manpower—both in strength and expertise, insufficient education and training.

Others, as observed include in­adequate equipment and poor con­ditions of service of the average policeman, poor public relations between subordinate and superior officers, lack of public cooperation, constitutional problem that put the Force under the Presidency, and most recently, the poor perception of police by both police officers and the public.

These problems have subsequent­ly, according to experts, hindered, to a very large extent, the ability of the Nigeria police to perform their func­tions effectively.

Several efforts has been made to reform the police and to address some of these problems, especially in areas of staff recruitment, pur­chase of equipment and provision of logistics particularly transportation and remuneration and their general welfare.

Due to some of these problems, the average policeman on the street lacks confidence, is inefficient and corrupt, hence the attempts to ad­dress the welfare of those in service and in retirement.

Recall that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo dragged the Nigeria Police into the contributory pension, which described as laughable by officers, men and even experts on security matters, considering the sacrifices they make to ensure the internal se­curity of the nation. So far, efforts by serving and retired police officers to make the National Assembly remove the police from the contributory pen­sion scheme like their colleagues in the military and secret service has been futile.

Investigation revealed that the highest retirement benefit of a Dep­uty Superintendent of Police under this “obnoxious pension scheme” is N2.5m, while that of an Assistant Superintendent of Police is N1.5m. Whereas, he continued, their equiva­lents in the Army (Captain) and DSS go home with N12.8m and N10.3m respectively.

Also said the take-home of retired police officers under this contributory pension scheme is un­imaginable.

The Inspector-General of Po­lice (IGP) goes home with N100,169 monthly; Deputy Inspector General (DIG) N89,300; Assistant Inspector General (AIG) N82,367; Commis­sioner of Police (CP) N70,269; Dep­uty Commissioner of Police (DCP) N61,526, Assistant Commission­er of Police (ACP) N49,300, CSP N42,563, Superintendent of Police (SP) N37,600, Deputy Superinten­dent (DSP) N31,600 when an Army Captain receives N180,000. The take-home of an ASP under the pension scheme is N28, 000 while an Army Lieutenant goes home with N150, 000,” he said.

“By the express provision of section 4 of the Police Act, the Ni­geria Police is charged amongst others with the responsibilities of performing such military duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required by the authority. By this provision, the Nigeria Police Force is the only paramilitary organisation in Nigeria recognised as such by law. They are exposed to danger day and night,” he lamented.

Pained by the poor welfare, a re­tired policeman recalled: “We were 380 that passed out from Police College Ka­duna, but only 120 of us made it to retirement; the rest had either been killed by armed robbers or terror­ists, while we lost a few others to nat­ural causes. In the whole world, it is only Nigeria government that treats retired police officers with disdain”.

As a result, many of the officers are mounting pressure on the au­thorities to stop deploying them to fight insurgents and terrorists such as Boko Haram and bandits, a situ­ation they blame on government’s neglect of their plight, unlike their counterparts in the military and oth­er paramilitary outfits.

They also alleged that they are dissatisfied with the administration of the police pension scheme, even as inves­tigations revealed that at retirement, it takes years for police officers and men to receive their terminal bene­fits, leaving them and their families in hunger and indebtedness, in the absence of monthly salaries.

Further investigations revealed that many of them besieged the var­ious state pension offices and even the force headquarters to commence the long process of getting their entitle­ments.

National Chairman of the Ac­tion Democratic Party (ADP) and the 2019 presidential candidate of the party, Yabagi Y Sani, on his part lamented the poor incentives and care for the Police in Nigeria, which is the cor­nerstone of every country as far as maintaining the internal security architecture.

“If there is an area we should address; it is that of the police. If the Police is well kitted, well paid and well taken care of, you can now begin to say that you have a safeguard for your security. If you do not care about your police, you cannot talk about your security. So with the high level of insecurity we have today, I don’t think we have to call the Army who is supposed to protect and preserve our territorial integrity to come and defend inter­nal security architecture. It is like taking the whole situation into to­tal anarchy because then you would have lost the focus you are supposed to have.

“I am not saying we should not invest in the army, but we must un­derstand the army is for external ag­gression. Theirs is to stop external aggression. The war is within us. It is not yet a war declared by another country against Nigeria, so whatever colouration it may have, it is still an internal disorder and it is the police that can effectively tackle that prob­lem. So there is nothing we do for the police that is too much especially now. So we should look into their welfare packages and anywhere we can give them incentives so that they will be able to perform at the level required by demand,” Sani enthused.

It is perhaps against the backdrop of these challenges that the Network On Police Reform In Nigeria (NO­PRIN) Foundation, and the Human Right Law Service (HURILAWS), re­cently called for improved account­ability and transparency on the Po­lice Trust Fund to ensure the welfare of officers and men of the force and enable them perform optimally. The two non-government organisations (NGOs) spoke in Lagos on Thursday during a media parley on increasing Accountability and Transparency on the Police Trust Fund.

Collins Okeke, Senior Pro­grammes Manager, HURILAWS, blames the under-capacity of the Nigerian Police on its being ill-equipped, as according to him, “the police is the first contact with the law. If you have very defective police or the police that does not have capacity or not well equipped, or don’t have trained personnel, we will continue to have challenges with our criminal justice system.”

He called on the government to take a second look at the Po­lice Trust Fund Act, and bring in more stakeholders, stressing that the “private sector need to be brought in, they should also strengthen the accountability framework for the Trust Fund so that people can have more confidence and be willing to put in their money.”

Mr. Ikule Emmanuel, Na­tional Coordinator, NOPRIN Foundation, speaking on the plights of the retired officers and of the deceased officers whose family experience diffi­culty in accessing their benefits years after retirement or death, described the development as unhealthy. Even the Holy Bible, he noted, declared that a labour­er deserves his wages, and that after serving the nation main­taining law and order, “it is mandatory that you are paid what you should settle down with, particularly now that it is contributory pension. When you contribute some money when you are in service, and that money is invested, the government should contribute its quota. It is very, very import­ant. But the issue you mention is a very sad one. We at the NOPRIN are working hard to ensure better police welfare.”

Also speaking, Fola Arthur– Worry, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) bemoaned un­derfunding in the police, which he noted is a major reason for poor performance, a reason why since 2007, the Lagos State Government adopted the mod­el of Trust Fund to support the police in its domain. He howev­er noted that this could not ad­dress the worsening problems, calling for a national approach.

“So after many years of lob­bying, the National Assembly passed the Police Trust Bill, which is supposed to support the police in all material par­ticular in addition to its budget and other things and should make a difference if well im­plemented.”

Vandefan Tersoo James, a Chief Superintendent of Police and former Special An­ti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Com­mander, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Pioneer Head, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Counter Terrorism Unit De­partment, recently expressed dismay over the lingering plight of the Nigeria Police.

Vandefan noted that unless the Police are reformed and the welfare of of­ficers given priority, the Police may not give their best in the fight against insecurity in the country. This is as he warned that the Police annual budget cannot sustain the Force ac­couterments, noting that the #EndSARS protest presented an opportunity for robust Police reforms, but all hopes were lost after the protest. He believes the government is not interested in strengthening the Force, be­cause “#EndSARS came with a lot of promises that the police thought it was going to help them, but since the protest end­ed, till date, no Policeman has not seen that promise reforms the government talked about. It has always been talks about re­forming the Police on paper, but nothing happened physically.”

On the changes he would like to see in the Nigeria Police, CSP Vandefan expressed total dismay at seeing Nigeria Police­men working with no sweater on night duty for 24 hours. “He is going to stay there with shirt, trouser and without food. He will not eat until he closes, then trek back to station and go back to his house; and then come back the next day.”

In addition to equipping the police, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Police Force, Delta State Command, DSP Bright Edafe told stated that the only way for the police to effective­ly curb crime in Nigeria is to engage in proactive policing amongst others.

“What the Command is do­ing based on the directive of the Commissioners of Police, Ali Muhammed Ari, is to engage in proactive policing. This system of policing is far better than re­active policing. Proactive polic­ing includes intensive stop and search and continuous raiding of criminal hideouts.”

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