By Oji Odu
The anger shown on the faces of members of the Retired Police Officers Association, RPOA, (Under Contributory Pension Scheme) is better imagined than experienced, as they protested the injustice of underpayment of their retirement benefits on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at Ikeja, Lagos.
At the gathering of the officers made up of the sick, wounded and those carrying the scars sustained during their service years while maintaining law and order, most of who looked so haggard and hungry, their voices were in unison expressing regret for staking their lives in service of their fatherland for nothing.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, and copied the Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives, Minister of Finance, Chaiman, Police Service Commission, Inspector of Police among others, jointly signed by the Chairman, Oku Nkana, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and all the members of the group, the group not only protested the underpayment of their retirement benefits which warrant to gross violation of the constitutional provision of their pension rights, but the rot and injustice in the Nigeria Police Force.
The retired law enforcement officers had hoped that after their retirement from 35 years of active service, they were entitled to bulk payment of gratuities of at least N10 million which their mates in other agencies got. But the reverse is the case. It is not only that their accrued benefits are being withheld, they are allegedly altered and tampered with in violation of the Pensions Act of 2004 as is applicable to Section 173(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“….the present circumstance upon which we are rated and paid on diverse percentage such as 29.62 percent, 25 percent, 33.26 percent, 25.62 percent and 39 percent respectively without any coherent, fixed, certain and predictable sum amounts to gross violation of the constitutional provision on our pension rights,” they said.
The RPOA are shocked that the payment ratings are now made according to age instead of ranks in which remittances on their contributory pension were made.
When they contacted the NPF Pension Ltd on the disparity and underpayment, they were told that the NPF Pension Ltd was using the template by the National Pension Commission (NPC) in paying them. This made them wonder why other pension administrators are paying with better templates than the NPF Pension Ltd.
Further buttressing their point, they said that a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSPS) who retired at 57 years is rated 29.5 percent and paid N2.5 million, including 13 months arrears of pension at a monthly pension of N38,884.75, while a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP II) is rated 25 percent and paid only N1.4 million, including 13 months arrears of pension at a monthly pension of N27,989.50.
“ How can the same retiree of the same rank not receive uniform money…So it means that NPF Pension Ltd pays whatever them in utter disregard of the law,” they stated.
Lamenting, they expressed shock that the NPF Pension Ltd which came into being in 2014 pays in gross disregard to the 2004 Pensions act and paying far less as the Act requires which other administrators are not doing. For instance retired inspectors receive N2.5 million; ASP,N4.5 milliion; DSP N6 million; and SP N7.3 million.
Based on the above, the RPOA pray among other things that the Nigeria Police Force be made to withdraw from the present pension scheme like their sister agencies and all contributed money be refunded to all officers of the Nigeria Police Force including the retired officers.
They demand a retirement benefit of not less than N10 million for officers of the rank of retired ASP and above for others.
They demand that the underpayments and disparities of pensions and gratuities be corrected and the balance refunded. Also, the disparity of age differential be removed completely after 35 years of service instead of using 60 years as yardstick for payment.
The demand that their gratuities be paid in bulk rather than the stipends as presently practiced, and their entitlements and promotion arrears be paid in accordance with the contributory pension scheme Act of 2004.
The Retired Police Officers Association also want a return to the old system before the introduction of the new scheme.