The Nigerian Police Force spends N1.9billion annually on the salaries of 1,300 ‘redundant’ officers recruited as specialists six years ago, according to findings by Daily Trust.
The officers – comprising 1,086 Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs) and 214 Inspectors – were enlisted in 2010 through a processes started during the tenure of former Inspector-General of Police Chief Mike Okiro.
However, the specialists, including engineers, pilots, ballisticians, medical doctors, veterinary doctors, forensics experts, ICT experts and hand writing analysts are not being properly utilised six years after undergoing training on police duties such as parades, musketry, weapon handling.
Daily Trust reports that an ASP receives N130,000 monthly as salary, meaning the 1,086 ASPs take N141,180,000 monthly and N1,694,160,000 annually. An inspector on the other hand earns N78,000 monthly as salary, which translates to N16,692,000 monthly and N200,304,000 annually for the 214 inspectors.
Senior Police sources told Daily Trust that efforts by successive inspectors-general of police to convert the officers to general duty had not yielded result.
“The officers in the specialist section are too many, they are redundant because they are not being properly utilized. What will somebody who studied Business Administration, Sociology, Marketing, Philosophy or Accountancy be doing in Mechanical workshop?” an officer who does not want to be mentioned said.
However, in a letter to the immediate past IGP, Solomon Arase, the affected police officers requested to be converted to general duty to make them more productive.
The Force Management Team at its meeting of June 22, 2015 constituted a committee to assess all officers affected and make recommendations.
In a memo seen by our correspondent and signed by CP Austin Iwar, the police management under Arase said the officers should be converted.
A senior police officer confirmed that Arase tried to convert the specialists but that he was frustrated by the Force Secretary.
“It is true they applied for conversion to enable them do normal police work since most of them do not even fit into the departments they are now. Oga Arase couldn’t because they brought out a document quoting an Oronsaye White Paper which they claimed places ban on Conversion of Policemen from Specialists to General Duty, “the senior officer said.
The officers said with little training the affected cops would function well in general duty.
Another source close to the force headquarters said when Ibrahim Idris took over as IG, the issue was tabled before him.
“The new IGP ordered the DIG Training to come up with a training schedule for conversion of the affected officers and a long list of about 1300 redundant Specialists officers were drawn for the training.
“But a new problem started when the Force Secretary came up with the white paper earlier raised by the former ACP in charge of Promotion who is now a Deputy Commissioner in Police College, Maiduguri,” the source said.
No policeman is redundant – Force
When contacted, the Force spokesman DCP Don Awunah said no police man in Nigeria was redundant.
“There are few who we call experts in the police, they are called the specialists, they include engineers, doctors, forensic analyst, finger print experts, carpenters, masons and other experts because police is a microcosm, it’s like a country, we have all departments, and all section you can think of in a normal society is in the police system.
“We don’t have enough, so the issue of redundancy does not come up at all, because a police officer is trained in such a way that he can use his skills and competencies in many areas, so there is no issue of redundancy in the police; in fact we are looking for more hands.
“In fact there are more recruitment coming, the recent recruitment that we are going to have for about 10,000 men includes also specialists, because people are retiring, and for the past six years we have not done any major recruitment,” he said.
He added that a policeman could be recruited as a pilot but would need further training, in the same way an engineer needs further police training to meet the demands and challenges of modern day policing.
“Some of this training you get abroad, our specialists, like I have mentioned lawyers, doctors and the rest of them are not redundant, we use them for other activities outside their major calling,” the police spokesman said.