OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has passed into second reading a bill seeking to exempt the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) from the jurisdiction of the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
The bill sponsored by Francis Ejiroghene Waive (APC, Delta) seeks to amend Section 5, sub-section 1 paragraph (a) Pension Reform Act of 2014, to include the Nigerian Police Force as part of the categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension Scheme.
The bill is titled “Pension Reform Act 2014 to provide for the exemption of the Nigeria Police Force from the Contributory Pension Scheme and for Related Matters”.
According to Waive, “those currently exempted by the Act include: members of the Armed Forces, the intelligence and secret services of the Federation. The Nigerian Police was brought under the current pension scheme by then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The government at the time modelled the country’s Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) after the Chilean scheme”.
Waive stated further that the exemption affects both the armed forces and the Police from the scheme. “Unfortunately in adopting same model it brought the police under the Nigerian Pension scheme while exempting the military and other intelligence agencies”.
He also noted that the Nigeria Police Pensions Limited emanated from a presidential approval aimed at enhancing the welfare of serving and retired police officers.
“Consequent on the approval, Pencom was in 2012 directed to guide the Police towards the establishment of a Nigeria Police Pension Fund Administrator, in order to remain within the Contributory Pension Scheme. It was likewise to address all other areas of concern on welfare and pension matters.
“Unfortunately operating under the current pension scheme has been both unpalatable and regrettable for the retirees of the Nigerian Police Force. By the express provision of section 4 of the police Act, the Nigeria Police is charged amongst others with the responsibilities of performing such military duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required by the authority. By this provision the Nigeria Police Force is the only paramilitary organization in Nigeria recognized as such by law.
“The Police being the frontline security agency in the country are exposed to danger day and night more than other security agencies and as such deserves better treatment during and after service”.
In addition, Waive stated that “on account of the above among many others, the Nigerian Police ought and should be exempted from the current pension scheme like their counterpart in the military and the intelligence agencies. For example, the highest retirement benefit of the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) under this obnoxious pension scheme is N2.5m. That of Assistant Superintendent of Police is N1.5m. At the same time, their equivalent in Army (captain) and DSS are paid N12.8m and N10.3m, respectively.”
The lawmaker pointed that the take-home pay of a retired Police DSP is just N31,600 while that of a Captain and equivalent in the Army is N180,000. While a Police Inspector is N15,000, a warrant officer, the Army equivalent to a Police Inspector, takes home N120,000 upon retirement.
Again, Waive decried the paltry amount given to the NPF despite putting their lives in danger and being the lead security agency in the country.
“The Nigeria Police is the principal law enforcement and the lead security agency in Nigeria. Due to the nature of their Job a policeman would risk his life and that of his dependant to serve the nation for 35 years only to retire to a life of penury. Thus a policeman in Nigeria is being made to face humiliation after retirement on account of pension and gratuity scheme that is not effective. The Problems with the non-payment of pension benefits under the present scheme are well known”.
In his contribution, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechujwu, who supported the motion, said that “this issue addresses a part of what we should do is to amend legislation from time to time. From the brief it is necessary that we review the Pension Reform Act. I would support it goes for a second reading. When people voluntarily sacrifice their life for the country, the country should also be ready to sacrifice for these service men. We cannot afford to leave our policemen of Representatives has been on in jeopardy”.
The bill was passed for second reading after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put the question to a vote on the floor of the House. The ayes had it as several of the members agreed to redress the PenCom in police retiree emoluments disparity.