Monthly deduction of sports levy from the salary of policemen nationwide is unsettling rank and file of the Force, Bertram Nwannekanma and Albert Uba report.
There has been outcry over the withdrawal of about N150,897, 000 million from the June salaries of officers of the Nigeria Police Force nationwide.
The Guardian gathered that the withdrawal, christened the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sports Levy, which took effect from June, was at the instance of the immediate past IGP, Alkali Usman Baba.
Investigation revealed that N5,000 deductions were made from the salaries of the IGP, and down to the Commissioners of Police (CPs).
Also, N3,000 was deducted from the ranks of Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCP) down to the Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), while N2,000 was deducted from the salaries of the Superintendent of Police ( SP) to Inspector 1.
For the rank of Inspector 11, the sum of N1,000 was deducted, while N500 was taken from salaries of sergeants down to constables, respectively.
Currently, there are about 371,800 police officers in the country, with an IGP, eight Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs), 17 Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) manning 17 zonal commands, 37 Commissioners of Police (CPs) manning 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and eight others manning other units.
The implication is that N5,000 was deducted from each of 71 senior officers, totaling N355,000,000.
Also between the ranks of Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCP), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Superintendent of Police (SP), Inspector 1 and Inspector 11, about N2,000 was deducted from their salaries, totalling about N142,000, 000 from 71,000 officers.
For other ranks, totalling about 300,722 personnel, about N500 was deducted, coming to about N150,361,000.
Consequently, about N150,897,000.00 was deducted from the salaries of officers and rank and file, thereby creating mixed feelings and reactions among personnel.
Some senior officers, who spoke to The Guardian, expressed reservation about the idea, but do not really see anything bad with the withdrawal on the ground that the amount marginal.
However, the junior ones, especially the rank and file, with meagre salaries, were not supportive of the idea.
Some told The Guardian that that they should not be responsible for financing police sporting activities, noting that the culture was strange to the Force.
To them, they are not aware that the Police was planning any sporting activities to warrant deductions from their salaries, adding that the immediate past IGP Alkali Usman Baba was responsible for this.
Police sources, who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity because they were not qualified to speak to the press, said they had resigned to fate because the deduction had begun already with the June salary.
Sources from the rank of Commissioners of Police (CP), who bared their minds on the deduction, said: “Though we were not given adequate information about the deduction, the IGP is the head of the police and can do anything he deems fit and good for the Force.
“For instance, N5,000.00 has been deducted from our salaries and if you ask, we do not think that is too much. Nobody will ever be happy, if even N50 kobo is deducted from his salary, but we think it is all about sacrifice and for the good of the generality of the Police Force.”
Personnel within the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (SP) and the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) also shared the same sentiment.
While calling for the implementation of salary structure harmonisation, they said the deduction of N3,000 from their salaries does not have much negative impact on their wages provided it was done for the good of the Force.
But the rank and file, that is, officers from the rank of constables to inspectors, who formed the nucleus of the Police Force, are against the idea. They stated that organising police sporting activities should not be borne by them.
According to them, sports should be financed by the government and not by police personnel generally.
They said: “Sporting activities generally are government responsibility and should not have anything to do with individual salary.
“Is there no annual budget for the Police Force? Why can’t those at the helm of affairs make their deductions from that and leave salaries alone? It is not a must that the Police should organise sports activities but if it must do, it shouldn’t be at the expense of Police personnel. Everybody is not a sportsman just as not everybody likes sports.
“What the former IGP Baba has done is to compel us against our wish and deduct money from our legitimate salary.
“Do you know how much it will amount to, to deduct even N100 from each police officer across the country, let alone N5,000.00? The big Ogas can afford to pay the money because their salary is big, but not us, the rank and file.
“How much is my salary that somebody will take N2,000.00 from it every month because some people want to organise sports activities? This is unfair. What the former IGP has done to us is like beating a child and preventing him from crying.”
The Guardian investigation revealed that the culture of deduction is done as follows: from the rank of the IGP to CP, N5000 is deducted; DCP to CSP, N3,000; while SP to Inspector 1, N2,000 is deducted. Inspector 11 pays N1,000, while fromsergeant to constable pay N500 respectively.
When contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said talks about the Police Annual Sports Levy deduction was an attempt to malign the person and integrity of the acting IGP, Dr. Olukayode Egbetokun.
Clarifying the issue, he said: “The Nigeria Police Force Sports is primarily funded through annual deduction, which has been in force from time immemorial; and it was consolidated in the year 2003, and reviewed by the management of the Force in the year 2012.
“Attempting to sensationalise this longstanding yearly practice is not only mischievous, but a disservice to the above stated facts. It is evident that the purveyors of this disinformation are poised to mislead the public by distorting the truth and creating unnecessary mischief.
“The Force, therefore, strongly urges the public and the media to verify information and desist from spreading baseless claims calculated at tarnishing the image of the Nigeria Police Force while encouraging well-meaning Nigerians to discountenance the malicious publication.”