By Kabeer Adeniyi
Despite being major actors in the criminal justice system, the link between curbing crime and poverty has been a major concern for the Police.
While some of them live in dilapidated barracks with lack of basic amenities such as toilets and even potable water, many do not have shelter.
“All of these bring us to the discussion of how the welfare of officers hinder their activities. We go out every morning with rifles to enforce laws and at night, return back to the decaying infrastructures. This hinders justice as many of us are in the race against time to get money for upkeep rather than support human rights or respect fair hearing,” an officer who spoke under anonymity said.
BattaFiles understands that police authorities often neglect families of officers killed in active service.
One of such cases is that of Inspector Daniel Ise who was killed in Dec. 2020. Soon after his death, his wife and children were advised to start processing his death benefits. Despite completing the process in time, the family have still not received a kobo.
“I told the DPO that we didn’t have money to pay the mortuary to release his body, but he responded that the police do not also have money to cater for that. My mum is jobless and was pregnant then, so I had to rally round to get the money,” Godwin, son of the deceased officer said.
Ise was later buried on June 16, 2021, but his wife and seven children are yet to get any benefit from necessary authorities.
The Nigeria Police Welfare Insurance Scheme is designed to compensate members of the force who might have suffered accidents, injury, or death in the course of duty. But the Police Act and the pension department are silent on this.
Also, there has been a rising wave of attacks on police stations and officers in Nigeria, particularly in the southern region of the country in the last few years. These attacks, based on a study of various reports, have led to the death of hundreds of police personnel.
The guidelines on the administration of police officers’ pensions provide that death benefits should be paid to Next of Kins (NOKs) of officers who die in active service.
The families are expected to submit a letter of introduction of NOKs from the command where the officer last served, a death certificate, the deceased officer’s bank statement, stamped and signed NUBAN compliance bank statement with bank logo, one bank account for the widow, and another bank account opened in the name of the youngest child for children who have not attained the age of 18 years among others.
Section six of the guidelines provide that a committee should verify the claims and validate the document submitted by the NOKs after which “the deceased police officer’s entitlements are to be paid, the widow and the children (maximum of six) are entitled to monthly pensions, one-ninth of his accrued pensions until each of the child attains 18 years of age or death, one-third of his accrued pensions for the widow if she remains unmarried and of good character.”
Meanwhile, the rule is silent about how long the process should take, making it difficult to hold the authorities accountable. Sources in the force said the police authorities hide behind this loophole in the guidelines to delay and embezzle funds meant for affected families.
Police officers also said authorities have made promotion a question of “ethnic patronage and a man-know-man affair” instead of standards by the way of seniority and high performance.
Successive governments have, on several occasions, talked about police reform but no improvement has been implemented.
Analysts argued that there is a need to recruit more men into the police in order to cope with the increasing crime rate and to ensure better citizens’ protection.
They stressed that all cases of outright neglect must be looked into if police officers are to improve their performance.
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