Some police officers in Jigawa state have accused their commissioner, Usman Tilli, of pocketing the allowances of personnel posted to fight Boko Haram.
The aggrieved officers, in several interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, alleged that for pecuniary benefit, the police commissioner deliberately reduced the strength of the policemen attached to a special joint task force formed to combat Boko Haram in the state from 150 to 55 policemen.
Mr. Tili has however denied any wrongdoing.
The security team, tagged “Operation Salama”, was established in November 2013, following Boko Haram attacks on some towns and villages in the state.
At the time of establishing the security operation, 150 policemen, including 12 officers, were recommended by Mr. Tilli’s predecessor, Idris Umar, to be paid a monthly allowance of N180,000 and N150,000 for each officer and rank and file respectively.
The task force comprises personnel of the Nigerian Army, the police, the SSS, Immigration Service, Civil Defence Corps and the state Sharia marshals, Hisbah.
Credible police sources told PREMIUM TIMES that upon submission of the proposed allowances to the former governor of the state, Sule Lamido, the allowances were reduced from N180,000 to N150,000 for the officers and from N150,000 to N85,000 for the rank and file.
“When Mr. Tilli was deployed to Jigawa State, he reduced the number of the personnel in the operation from 150 to 55, causing security breaches in some flashpoints in the state,” a police source said.
“By reducing the number, Mr. Tilli pocketed N7,055,000 monthly for the number of ranks and file removed from the team and N2,160,000 for the 12 officers being paid monthly allowances by the state government.”
Credible sources said the payment was sustained until July 2015 when the new governor, Badaru Abubakar, reviewed the personnel allowances from N150,000 to N45,000 for officers and N85,000 to N35 for the rank and file.
In a letter dated July 3, 2015, with reference number: J/SSD/D/206/V.IV/898, the Special Service Directorate wrote to the Commissioner of Police, informing him about the state government’s decision to review the allowances.
“I wish to forward herewith attached, the new approved revised allowances for the JTF Operation Salama amounting to N19,282,000 only on monthly basis…,” the letter said.
According to the letter, the state government cut the personnel cost to N15,900,000, while cost of fuelling (N2,037,000), vehicle maintenance (N200,000), drugs (N150,000), torch lights (N95,000) and recharge cards (N900,000) for the use of 150 men was fixed at N3,382,000 monthly.
Perhaps dissatisfied by the state government’s allowance cut, the aggrieved officers told PREMIUM TIMES the police commissioner devised a way of cutting off N15,000 from each of the 55 personnel he appointed into “Operation Salama”.
“Government thinks he gives us N35,000, while in reality he only gives us N20,000 each,” said a police corporal.
Our sources said the police commissioner cornered N2,905,000 from the 83 rank and file and N540,000 from the 12 officers he downsized from the security taskforce.
In addition to that, he allegedly gets N825,000 every month as “proceeds” from the N15,000 allowance slash for each of the 55 men.
Notwithstanding the austerity measure adopted by the state government, Mr. Tilli allegedly generates for himself the sum of N4,270,000 from that particular operation.
PREMIUM TIMES also gathered that emphasis was placed by the state government on the deployment of enough policemen to vulnerable areas that border Yobe State, but the police commissioner posted only four mobile policemen to the surrounding areas.
The areas included Hadejia and Birniwa Local Government Areas.
A security source told our reporter that a number of villages bordering Yobe State suffered attacks from Boko Haram owing to paucity of personnel deployed to the area.
In Ringim town, where Boko Haram raided the country home of a former Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, Mr. Tilli allegedly squeezed out only five mobile policemen from the 55 in the security taskforce for deployment to the town.
Credible sources in the police told PREMIUM TIMES that on August 10, Mr. Tilli ordered the withdrawal of policemen at a life camp of a construction company, allegedly demanding to be “settled” before allowing them to report back to the camp.
PREMIUM TIMES could not establish whether payment was made before the police commissioner restored the policemen at the camp.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Tilli denied all the allegations against him, explaining that being in charge of the security of the state, he has right to appropriate personnel and deploy them to the right points.
“One of the simplest definitions of management is using the resources at your disposal to achieve goals. So what is wrong if I reduce them from Operation Salama and deploy them where I consider appropriate?” he asked.
Mr. Tilli explained that he established a number of security initiatives, which he said are more effective than “Operation Salama”.
“I established an operation against cattle rustlers in Guri Local Government and also ‘Operation Safer Highway,’ which we established at the instance of the IG, following withdrawal of military checkpoints.
“This operation is even more effective than Operation Salama. And I have to deploy enough personnel there and pay them allowances,” he explained.
He also said other allowances such as fueling, torchlight, drugs, vehicle maintenance and recharge cards are managed by the army, except N4 million personnel allowance meant for the police.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, over the matter, he simply replied that he would deal with the issue.
But a top police source told PREMIUM TIMES that the Inspector General of Police gives monthly allocation of “over N2 million” to “Operation Safer Highways” in Jigawa State.
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