Thousands of constables who were recently recruited into the Nigeria Police Force are grumbling over the non-payment of their salaries for the past seven months.
In May, SaharaReporters reported how the recruits who passed out of the police training institutions on December 29, 2022, had not been paid for months despite resuming at their duty posts across the country.
Two days after the report, the Police Service Commission (PSC) through its spokesperson, Ikechukwu Ani said the salary payment for the constables had been approved.
Ani said the approval was in the interest of national security, anchored on the need to amicably resolve the lingering recruitment issues between PSC and the Nigeria Police Force.
The statement had read, “The Police Service Commission has approved salary payments for the 2021/2022 Police recruits who passed out of the Police Colleges and have been in formal Police work in different Police Commands and formations since the past six months without salary.
“The Commission’s decision was reached in the interest of national security anchored on the need to amicably resolve the lingering issues of recruitment between the Commission and the Nigeria Police Force which have occasioned untold hardship on the Police Constables.
“The Commission’s prompt response also followed outcry and appeals from Nigerians that the 2021/2022 Police recruits who are yet to be enrolled into the Federal Government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, and who had not received salaries, six months after they passed out from the Police Colleges and duly posted to Police Commands and formations for active Police work, are not made victims of the face-off between the Commission and the Nigeria Police Force.”
However, a month after the alleged approval, SaharaReporters gathered that the new police recruits were yet to be paid.
Speaking to the newspaper on Sunday night, a female constable serving in Akwa Ibom State said she now relies on sex work to survive.
“2021 constables have not been paid; we are not yet paid at all. Others have gotten their salaries. Na ashawo I dey take chop now ooo (Now I rely on prostitution to feed),” she said.
Another affected officer said, “These people have refused to pay the salaries up till now. After making a public announcement that it had been approved since May 5, that’s last month.”
Also speaking to SaharaReporters, a new recruit serving in Borno said the situation had demoralised many of them.
“It’s over a month now and these people haven’t paid us yet. People are outside there risking their lives and dying of starvation. We haven’t received anything yet from the federal government. President Bola Tinubu should help us and find something to do.
“They have paid salaries to other personnel of the force but it only remains 2021 intakes that are yet to be paid. We are dying of hunger.”
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 immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari 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 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.
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.”