The already-sullied reputation of the Nigeria Police Force, suffered more blows after the youth across the country, in the past few weeks, took to the streets in protest against police brutality, particularly the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
This special squad has long been accused of unlawful arrests, torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
The protests, which initially started peacefully, turned violent, after a government crackdown with hoodlums taking advantage of the situation. Dozens of people, including peaceful protesters and police officers, have been killed while public and private facilities were attacked.
Arguably, the worst of such incidents was the attack on protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Tuesday when soldiers shot at peaceful protesters, who gathered there. At least two people were killed in the Lekki incident.
At least 56 people have died since the start of the #EndSARS protests, the human rights group, Amnesty International, said.
Though the government has made some concessions, including announcing the dissolution of the notorious SARS unit and the constitution of judicial panels by a number of states to investigate police abuses, the protests continued with the protesters widening their demands to include calls for reforms across the country’s entire police system.
In their five-point demands, which include compensations for the families of all deceased victims of police brutality, the protesters also demanded an increase in the salaries of police officers.
They linked the endless extortion, corruption, and the viciousness of the men on black to poor remuneration, training, and welfare.
With the foregoing, PREMIUM TIMES takes a comprehensive look at the salary structure of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).
Police Salary Structure
The NPF is organised in a command structure, which is further divided into grades and steps that serve as a distinction among officers. This helps the system maintain order and control.
Finally, these structure and grades serve as the basis of the salaries received by each officer in the force.
Officers in the Nigerian police are categorised into commissioned and non-commissioned.
The commissioned officers are the ones in senior ranks while the non-commissioned are the rank and file, the very junior officers in the lowest grade that receive the lowest pay.
Some of the positions are also further divided into two or more grade levels and steps. These grade levels and steps specify a position in a scale of ranks or qualities. It helps distinguish officers in the same rank.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in 2018, approved a new salary package for police personnel. Details of this approval or the percentages of the increment are yet to be made public about two years after it was made.
The Consolidated Police Salary Structure, CONPOSS, released in March 2011 and obtained by PREMIUM TIMES appears to be the only detailed document on salaries of the police in the public domain.
Many senior police officers spoken to also confirmed that despite the 2018 presidential announcement, the 2011 salary structure s still what is being used by the police management.
Rank and File
The rank and file are the officers at the lower grade. They are referred to as non-commissioned officers.
A recruit, the lowest in the rank and file cadre, is a person undergoing training to become a member of the police force. Technically, this is not a rank in the police force.
According to the document, a police recruit earns a consolidated annual salary of N108, 233, 00, and a monthly consolidated salary of N9, 019.42. But when N676.46 is deducted as a pension, the recruit goes home with N8,342.96. He is the lowest paid.
A Sergeant Major is the twelfth rank and the most senior of the rank and file junior officers. It is the highest rank of a noncommissioned officer. A Sergeant Major assists the administrative officer of a particular regiment.
A Sergeant Major On Grade 06 (step 10) takes N62,204.88 home monthly while a Sergeant Major on Grade 06 (step 1) receives N55.144.81 per month.
A cadet Inspector is the lowest rank held by a police officer after undergoing training of service as a commissioned officer. It is commonly known as Inspector of Police (IP).
A Cadet Inspector On Grade 07 (step10) receives about N87,135.10 per month while a Cadet Inspector On Grade Level 07 (step1) is paid N73,231.51 monthly.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) is the highest-ranking officer in the force. He is appointed by the President and can also be dismissed by him.
The IGP’s monthly salary is N711,450 while his yearly pay is N8,537,980.
Source: mysalaryscale.com and the Nigerian Finder.
The Nigeria police is the least paid among corresponding security agencies in Nigeria, a factor expert says fuels corruption, extortion, and abuse of power.
The salary of the Nigerian Inspector-General of Police, IGP, is meagre, compared with those of the heads of the State Security Services, SSS, National Intelligence Agency, NIA, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, a previous investigation by PREMIUM TIMES found.
While the IGP earns N711,498 per month, the Director-General of the SSS earns N1,336 million per month and the EFCC Chairman about N1.5 million, per month, a check by this paper showed.
With staff strength of nearly 400,000, the Nigeria police is the principal law enforcement and the lead security agency in the country consisting of 36 state commands grouped into 12 zones and seven administrative organs including special units such as the disbanded SARS.
Tens of thousands of officers of the Nigerian police receive some of the poorest pay even in the West African sub-region, and the worst hits are the rank and files-the force’s foot soldiers, who spend decades in the line of duty but are hardly promoted, accommodated, or paid well.
On all categories of personnel, Ghanaian police officers for instance earn more money than their Nigerian counterparts, receive better training and welfare, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation had shown.
An equivalent of a police recruit that receives N9,000 in Nigeria earns about N77,000 in Ghana.
Across Nigeria, wretched officers live in squalid neighbourhoods within and outside the barracks, and go to work from broken-down vehicles, uncompleted buildings and garages.
A research conducted a few years ago by CLEEN Foundation, a nongovernmental organization, painted a gloomy picture of the condition at police stations well-known to Nigerians.
A 2008 Presidential Committee on Police Reform headed by Muhammed Yusuf recommended an estimated N2.8 trillion – or N560 billion annually – to effectively reform and transform the NPF over a period of five years.
Also, the Parry Osayande Committee constituted in 2012 echoed the recommendations of the 2008 committee, adding that police funding should be made a first-line charge or a special fund be created to accommodate the needs of the NPF.
While submitting the report, Mr Osayande told then-President Goodluck Jonathan how police in Nigeria was the worst paid in the West African sub-region.
Mr Osayande’s report only drew from several past documents from government panels identifying poor remuneration and conditions of service as factors affecting performance in the force.
The report, like the rest before it, remained unimplemented.
President Buhari had, in November 2018, approved an enhanced salary structure for the NPF.
But more than a year after the approval, men of the police force say they are yet to receive a pay rise.
An investigation by PUNCH Newspaper last August indicated that the directive had not been implemented, going by complaints from the rank and file who lamented that they were still being paid old salaries.
Checks on the official website of the force for details were unyielding as the site was down as at the time of turning in this report.
When contacted on whether the 2018 salary increment has been implemented and on why the web page of the NPF is static, the police spokesperson, Frank Mbah, did not respond to calls and text messages.
Beyond Salaries – Experts Speak
While analysts believe the dismal reward package contributes partly and directly to the alarming rate of corruption in the force and rampant attack on civilians by personnel, they believe it goes beyond that.
Nzube Akunne, a Lagos-based lawyer and political analyst, said poor remuneration is one of the factors contributing to the endless corruption, but not a major factor.
“I believe the major factors are corrupt mindset/orientation apparently inherent in most Nigerians, incompetence/relegation of merit, lack of maintaining the desired standard across the board, lack of proper selection and training, tribalism, nepotism, lack of proper funding to the Nigerian Police,” he said.
“We will never have a rebranded society and police force if we don’t reorient our mentalities across board. Even if we delist all the officers of the police force and recruit new officers without putting the above issues first, it will amount to an exercise in futility,” Mr Akunne noted.
The lawyer also said that poor remuneration of the officers breeds jealousy and envy against fellow Nigerians.
Cheta Nwanze, a researcher and data analyst, also believes the situation has gone beyond remuneration.
“It’s now a culture in the police to extort citizens, so even a salary increase won’t change it,” said Mr Nwanze, lead partner at SBM Intelligence, a research outfit.
For Confidence MacHarry, a security analyst at SBM intelligence, it is a two-way thing.
“When you look at the endemic corruption in the National Assembly, for instance, would you say that they are unpaid too?” he queried.
“We could say poor remuneration is a reason for the excesses of police officers, but increase their pay, if the culture of corruption is not cured, the excesses would continue.”
The 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index, in which the Nigerian Police Force ranked worst, identified corruption as the key problem of the police.
The index, a collaboration between the International Police Science Association and the Institute for Economics and Peace, focuses on the resources each nation devotes to internal security, whether the resources are used in an effective manner and whether the public views the police favourably.
According to the index, 81 per cent of respondents admitted to paying a bribe to a cop in Nigeria and police officers were found likely “to use their public positions for private gain.”
A 2019 public survey by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) rated the police as the most corrupt public institution in Nigeria.
For Mr MacHarry, the centralisation of the NPF is a key driver of the endemic lack of accountability.
“The levels of control are far too distant and removed from the activities of police officers. Devolve control of the force to state and community levels. Disciplinary action would be better handled by people responsible for their policing,” he recommended.
“That way, when you increase the salary of officers, it would significantly eliminate the need for corruption that led to excesses and vice versa, and when this happens, issues would be properly handled.”
There has been a protracted debate on whether state policing should be allowed. The federal government has repeatedly rejected such plans with reasons including that states cannot pay salaries or better manage the police, if allowed.
Austin Aigbe, a programme director at the Centre for Development and Democracy (CDD), said there is a need for an independent police commission that will truly address the needs of the force.
“It should focus on tackling corruption and abuse of offices and other vices in the system,” he said.
As part of a concession to the #EndSARS protesters, President Muhammadu Buhari has promised an upward review of the salaries of police officers.
Mr Akunne said police reforms can start by upscaling the salaries of officers.
“I think in rebranding the Police Force, the government should, first of all, adjust the funding of the police force to meet all their needs in the course of duty, adjust their remuneration to meet the economic realities on the ground, start an orientation programme for all the officers and check their mental and ideological state.
“But it should also prosecute the officers found guilty of extrajudicial killings, torture, and brutalities, set up a new complaints commission easily reachable by the public and possibly made up of ex-police officers and members of pressure groups like NBA and the likes to look into the excessive use of force by officers in the line of duties and checkmate tribalism and nepotism in the police force.”