It was a quiet night at Jibi community, a community situated behind Mopol 45 (Ibrahim Abubakar Barrack) along Deidei –Zuba Expressway in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Mr John Abah (Not real name) drove home from a beer joint where he had a good time with his friends. While attempting to close his gate, some armed men invaded his compound. He thought it was a joke until A.K 47 rifles and other weapons were flashed before him. The men in black marched him straight into his bedroom to the shock of his wife and children. They picked his wallets, phones and laptop and ordered him to put on his shoes or sandals as they actually came for him.
His wife pleaded with the gun-wielding criminals to spare the husband but they insisted. They took the wife's phone and asked her to return to the room.
Amid the silent wailing of his wife, Mr John Abah whose hands were already tied to his back was marched into the forest.
But some local vigilante stepped in and rescued Mr Abah. He escaped narrowly from the crossfire between the kidnappers and the vigilante.
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When Legit.ng sat with Mr Abah, he said throughout the encounter, police did not mobilize to the scene.
"Forget the police. If not for the local vigilantes we are organizing here and there, things would have been terrible. Throughout that night till the next morning, the police did not respond to the several calls put across to them. It's worrisome. I thank God that I was rescued," he said.
Shortly after Abah's failed abduction last year, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers invaded the community and abducted the community chief (Esu Jibi), Ibrah Dahiru Liman. They also injured two vigilantes who attempted to rescue the local chief.
Though the chief has been set free by his abductors, the police had remained helpless until ransoms were paid.
At Dutsen Alhaji, a busy satellite town in Bwari Area Council, a man was abducted when he rushed to the bank after he noticed that criminals had hacked into his account. Upon arrival at the bank, his abductors whisked him away. According to an eyewitness, no single policeman was around the scene. According to him, it’s expected that at least four to five policemen should be around such a busy area.
Police welfare and remuneration
Despite the rising insecurity in the country, it has been observed that policemen are inadequate as they are not found at many strategic or criminal hotspots. This is even as the force has continued to decry poor remunerations.
A newly recruited police officer is expected to earn N9,019.42 monthly. There could be other allowances or benefits, which our reporter could not confirm.
A police constable on grade level 03 earns N43,293.83 while his counterpart on grade level 10 earns N51,113.59.
A Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, earns N242,715.65. This is according to Youwinconnect educational portal.
Abba Kyari, a deputy commissioner earns the above salary.
Abba Kyari: A Victim of poor welfare?
The super cop is currently entangled in different crimes, ranging from internet-fraud related cases to the recent drug cartel allegation.
He is currently being detained by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
Since his detention, Nigerians have raised concerns about why a security chief in that capacity should be involved in a crime of that magnitude. While there are opinions that the police deserve better compensation to fight crimes and not to get involved in crimes, others have argued that there is no justification to getting involved in crimes as an officer.
Experts react to police activities
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Some security experts have argued that even though there is no justification for committing crimes under any circumstances, poor police salary structure may have resulted in Kyari's action plus other crimes being committed in the force.
A Chief Security officer of Pmagbe Security outfit, Mr Samuel Okorom told Legit.ng that poor remuneration should not be an excuse for police officers getting involved in crimes. According to him, before someone takes up a job, he should have checked to know whether he can survive with it or not. He said the person is expected to know the salary he will be entitled to, and that there is an option to either take the job of leaving it.
“Taking the job of the police based on the police acts is like taking the oath of allegiance, so going behind to commit any crime in the guise of poor salary is a big offence. Salary is not an issue to me. It’s as a result of the individual’s greed.”
“Increase police salary to any amount you want today, those that will still be collecting bribe will still be doing so. I think crime is in some people’s blood.”
Okorom, however, admitted that the salary of the police force is poor, hence they deserve more. He insisted that even though they deserve more pay, it’s not an excuse to commit a crime as an officer of the law.
He advised the government to review the salary of policemen so they can be held responsible for their crimes without the excuse of poor salaries.
Similarly, a security consultant in Ibadan, Mr Yinka Bilesanmi agreed that poor police salary was partly responsible for corruption in the force. According to him, when the wage is poor, there is bound to be what he called “ojukokoro”. He also blamed high level of indebtedness to crimes among officers of the force. According to him, some people are never satisfied with what they earn, hence they seek other criminal ways of making money.
“There are people who are greedy. They have forgotten that all fingers are not equal. If you see someone driving a big car, they will conclude that ‘Dangote olori meji. That has become a major issue.”
Mr Yinka further blamed poor physical security apparatus for the development, saying that once an individual realizes that he could manipulate the security, he will do so.
According to Yinka:
“If an individual realizes that the security system is weak generally, nothing will stop him from exploiting it.”
"But a police officer who spoke anonymously to Legit.ng said they live from hand to mouth. I'm an inspector of Police. I have 4 children and an aged mother. I have many relatives who depend on me. If I buy a bag of rice from my salary, how much is left?," he asked.
Legit.ng reports that a 50kg bag of rice is around N30,000 as the case may be.
According to the officer:
“We are not going to eat just rice. We need to buy other foodstuffs. You can see clearly that this money is not enough. So most officers have to devise other means to survive and those with criminal tendencies will not hesitate to go into crime even while in the force. How do you fight crime when you are not even compensated handsomely? If you get killed while chasing some kidnappers, how do you get compensated? The way police people are being treated is terrible. If we must fight crime, then we must first of all start by looking at the police salary. There is no amount too much for those protecting you," he said.
Buhari orders increment of police salary
Legit.ng recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari has made several efforts since his assumption of office in terms of police reforms.
In his efforts to strengthen the security of the country, Buhari had given directives for the upward review of police salaries and their benefits.
He made the disclosure while delivering a speech on Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria.
But it’s unclear if the increment has boosted the morale of men of the force or not.
Buhari orders recruitment into police force
Buhari had also ordered the recruitment of 10,000 policemen every year. This is to further strengthen the force.
Despite the president’s effort, Nigerians have continued to complain about the activities of the force, wondering whether the effort of the president will make much impact.
It’s yet to be seen if the president will fully transform the force before the end of his tenure.