By Chioma Onuegbu
UYO- POLICE officers who retired from service last year, have cried out that they could no longer feed and pay their house rents due to nonpayment of their gratuity and pension by the relevant authorities, while most of their children had dropped out of school.
To feed is difficult—ASP Udo (retd)
An Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP and father of seven from Ikono Local Government, Mr. Asuquo Udo, who retired in 2017, said: “I am the breadwinner of the family and I have not been able to cope with the hardship since I retired because of delay in payment of the gratuity. With seven children, feeding once a day is difficult. Unfortunately, my wife does not work.
“And you know while serving in the Nigeria Police Force, the law that covers the force does not allow us to do something else. The situation is so bad and I am appealing to the authorities, the Federal Government to come to our aid. At my age, I cannot go to look for fresh job, after serving the nation for 35 years”
2 of my children out of school —DSP Udofia (retd)
Also, DSP Emmanuel Udofia (retd) from Ibiono Ibom, said, “The situation is frustrating. Sometimes, I regret having joined the Nigeria Police. You cannot imagine after working for 35 years, what I have come to receive as reward is frustration. I retired in February 2018, but from what I hear, my colleagues that retired since last year are yet to be paid gratuity.
“And the N1.1million that we hear they are paying as gratuity is also discouraging because it cannot help us to take care of our families or to engage in other businesses after retirement. As I speak to you, two of my children have dropped out of school because money is not coming in from anywhere,” he disclosed.
Some of us dying —Utuk
Similarly, another retired policeman, Mr. Sunday Utuk from Etim Ekpo Local Government, regretted that they were being underpaid, saying, “The situation is that upon retirement, you expect to be paid N5 to N6 million, but this time, when you retire, you are paid N1.1million as gratuity irrespective of your rank, including retired police inspectors. We are not happy about this development. Some of us are dying as a result of psychological effect of the suffering they have subjected us to, especially this issue of underpayment.”
Where is our NHS contribution?—SP Obarua (retd)
Reacting, Thomas Obarua, retired Superintendent of Police from Cross River state, asserted: “They made compulsory deductions from our salary for National Housing Scheme but as I am talking to you, none of us has received any money for that. If you retire and they did not build for you, they ought to return your money. We are over 200 in this state; it was a way of swindling us.”
“So our experience is as horrible as death. Sadly we have protested severally, but nobody is listening to us. We are now like outcasts. The other day I called my friend in Lagos, who is also passing through this problem and he said he would never advise even his enemy to join the Nigerian Police Force. It is a terrible situation,” he lamented.
My regret —DSP Effiong (retd)
DSP Effiong (retd), who happened to have been paid his gratuity, however, expressed regret for being underpaid and wondered why such a pittance, whereas his colleagues who had retired about four, five years ago were paid over N7million, some N9 million depending on the rank they attained before retirement.
Linus Isangha from Cross River state lamented: “I feel very, very discouraged and disappointed and I will never advise anybody, not even my enemy to join the police force because government is not interested in our welfare despite the risk, the sacrifice we made in serving the nation.”
DSP Matthew Uzor (retd), from Imo state described the situation as discouraging and appealed to the appropriate authorities to come to their help, noting that the embarrassment he had received so from his landlord following his inability to pay his overdue rent was giving him sleepless night.
From bad to worse —Egere
Similarly, Francis Igele from Cross- River state said “My situation is going from bad to worse every day. It is so bad that I can no longer pay my house rent because it has been 17 months since I retired. No gratuity, no monthly pension, I do not have another means of livelihood, it is just the magnanimity of my landlord, I and my family would have been in the street, it is as bad as that.”
Structured collapse—Akpan, rights activist
Rights activist in the state, Mr. SaviourAkpan, who spoke to NDV on the issue, said: “The situation is a manifestation of systemic failure in the nation’s policy. Nigerian government does not care for the aged.”