Hundreds of Nigerian police constables who were recently recruited into the force have not been paid salaries for the past four months. The recruits passed out of police training institutions on 29 December 2022 and have not been paid since, despite resuming duty across the country.
The delay in payment of salaries has led many constables to survive on bribes and extortion, with the officers reporting for duty without pay since January 2023. One constable said the situation had demoralised many of them, as they struggled to meet their responsibilities to their families.
They have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to come to their aid.
In January, the Police Service Commission (PSC) asked the Accountant-General of the Federation to halt the capture of the 10,000 constables on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel System.
The PSC stated that the police officers had not been issued their letters of appointment and should not be enrolled on the payment portal. Public officers not captured on the IPPIS cannot be paid salaries and other emoluments, according to the Public Service Rules. 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 face-off between the police authorities and the commission is a spill-over of their supremacy fight over the right to recruit constables. 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.
The authorities had recruited a total of 10,000 constables in the 2020 recruitment exercise, before the police appealed against the judgment to the Supreme Court two years after the order was handed down.
There have been issues involving the PSC and the Nigerian Police Force 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. The PSC filed a suit against the decision of the former IGP, Mohammed Adamu, to recruit 10,000 constables into the force in 2019, saying it was the commission that was constitutionally empowered to carry out such recruitment.
The Federal High Court upheld the powers of the IGP to carry out the said recruitment, 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.