By MOHAMMED ISMA’IL
Some fat cats are apparently feeding fat from illegal deductions of the salaries of men of the Nigerian Prison Service in Adamawa State if the surfeit of allegations of illegal salary deductions by the men of the command is anything to go by.
Tension was palpably high and there was an unmistakable air of apprehension in the vicinity when this reporter visited the venue where the aggrieved staff held a meeting with journalist to express their reservation over what they called “a day light robbery”. Many of the affected staff have expressed disquiet over this unwholesome treatment which they ascribed to the activities of a syndicate within the system that is hell bent in defrauding gullible members of staff of the organization. This syndicate, according to the staff is made up of both senior and middle ranking officers whose iron grip on the system made it possible for them to cheat junior officers through arbitrary deduction of their salaries that is being perpetrated with reckless abandon, which has unfortunately become the rule rather than the exception in the system.
Some staff of the Nigerian Prison Yola Command revealed to this reporter that over 200 staff across the Nigerian Prison Service zone C Command comprising of Bauchi, Adamawa, Borno, Taraba, Gombe and Yobe States are currently affected by the malady of arbitrary salary slash that has relegated majority of the affected staff to mere slaves and paupers that cannot meet even the basic needs of contemporary existence.
Many families are now in disarray as a result of the failure of many bread winners to shoulder basic responsibilities like providing food on the table, medical care and footing education expenses of their wards. This medium also learnt that due to the problem, some homes were already Brocken as a result of the no love lost between spouses that were caught in the web of this illegal salary deduction which is responsible for the inability of many bread winners to fulfill their God given responsibilities. This in turn, led to mutual suspicion between families which in many cases breed conflicts, altercations and even physical assaults between spouses that were living in relative peace hitherto. “Our wives are always complaining that they cannot just fathom why we cannot even provide food on the table despite our being Federal Government employees” revealed a source. As it is now, my wife believes that I am womanizing, gambling or squandering my resources on frivolities, that is why, I stopped taking care of her and the Children added the source. Since this problem begun, I always go through a strange feeling of anxiety and uneasiness whenever I am heading home after closing for the day’s job because of the prospects of the ineluctable fate that awaits me at home. This is because, instead of meeting smiling faces on my return from work, I often encounter strange, stern looking and unfriendly faces at home. I am right now a deprived man on the verge of going senile due to the deluge of psychological trauma currently bedeviling my existence added the source. But I must confess that I don’t blame my wife and the children for their unfriendliness because it is my natural duty to take charge of their welfare and since I have failed in that regard, I just have to accept the abuses and the trauma that has become a fait accompli for me with the believe that God will not allow those that are inflicting this artificial hardship on many families go unpunished.
The arbitrary salary deduction brouhaha emanated after some of the affected staff have acquired motor cycles on the agreement that payment in respect of the motorcycles will be made through deduction of salaries of those who subscribe to the policy. The deduction, according to the contractual agreement will stop after 16 months of the acquisition of such motor cycles. After the agreement was sealed, the command made available a Suzuki Osaki AX100 brand motorcycle at the rate of N100, 000.00 only. According to the terms of payment reached between the two parties, the sum of N6, 666 will be deducted on a monthly basis from the salaries of those who subscribes to the policy until after 16 months by which time the debt would have been completely settled. The motorcycles were made available in the month of October, 2010 and deductions also commences in the same month. But in July, 2011, the authorities circumvented the agreement when they unilaterally doubled the amount being deducted, by deducting the sum of N13, 3334 instead of the agreed sum of N6,666 as stipulated in the terms of agreement. Since then, the sum of N13, 3334is being deducted from the salary of individual subscribers up till this moment.
It may be recalled that this paper has reported the shenanigans of arbitrary salary deductions currently playing out at the Nigerian Prison Service in its edition of 17th- 23rdJuly, 2012 with the hope that the authorities concerned will take appropriate measure to stem the ugly development. Be that as it may, almost three months after that publication, the salary scam has continued unabated.
The failure the appropriate authorities to wade in to the crises in order to nip it in the bud have entrenched into the psyche of many of the staff affected that the scam may have received the blessing and the imprimatur of higher authorities which informed their lack luster approach to it despite its despite its grotesquely hideous nature.
One of the staff interviewed by this reporter submitted that he always remembers his retirement with nostalgic feelings due to the hardship and stress retirees go through, in the course of pursuing their entitlements and other retirement benefits. But right now I ‘am in my hey days, strong and healthy and offering my best services to the fatherland yet I ‘am shortchanged. What do you think will become my lot after retiring from the service? The seemingly bewildered officer queried this reporter as if he is expecting a response.
Although there may be uniformity in the plight of those affected by the unilateral slash of salaries, there is however some differences because the salary cut seems to be implemented in relationship to the amount one collects although there are many that are affected despite the undisputable fact that they did not even subscribe to the policy at all.
While the deductions in many instances is to the tune ofN13,3334 in other cases, the deductions may be as high as N50,000 on monthly basis. An instance here is the case of a salary earner whose take home pay isN85,000 but usually end getting N32,000 as take home pay meaning that close to the sum of N50,000 is being deducted from his monthly salary. Another instance, is the case of another staff who ought to receive the sum of N48,000 but usually get N28,000, meaning that the sum of N20,000 is being deducted from his salary on monthly basis. Similarly, another staff who should get about N50,000 usually receives the sum of N37,000meaning that the sum of N13,000 is being slashed from his salary on monthly basis.
It is pertinent to state here that the motorcycle loan should last for only 16 months based on the loan agreement reached between the two parties based on the deduction of the agreed sum of N6,666 on monthly basis in which the deductions is envisaged to stop in January, 2012. But even after doubling the deductions, up till the time of filing this report, the arbitrary deductions are yet to stop and even newspaper report in respect of the said infringement did not yield a positive result thereby revealing an innate feeling remorselessness and a pathological desperation on the part of those officials that are hell bent in shortchanging others their hard earned livelihood at all cost.
Some of the staff interviewed said, they have made many failed attempts in the past to get the situation regularized in vain. For instance when the issue of the salary cut started, the staff affected deemed it right to lodged a complaint with the state command. When that attempt failed to see the light of the day, they took a further step by writing a memo to the comptroller zone C, Salihi B. Mohammed, who assured him that their complaints will be looked into and will be addressed. But despite the assurances from the man at the helm of affairs in the region, the illegal deductions still persist.
Because of the foregoing reasons many of the staff interviewed believed that the salary scam is being perpetrated with the full knowledge of Salihi Mohammed who will have taken drastic measure in arresting the situation if he is actually not benefitting from the fraud. Almost all the staff interviewed unanimously ascribed that the illegal deductions have a strong backing of the powers that be especially Salihi Mohammed who allegedly colluded with the duo of Inspector Amshi Mohammed Saleh and Senior Inspector Abdullahi Ali to illegally perpetrate this fraud ostensibly using the issue of motorcycle debt recovery as their cover.
One of the affected staff has claimed that from the first instance, the intention of ACG to defraud the staff manifested when he conscripted the services of Inspector Amshi Mohammed Saleh and Inspector Abdullahi Ali to be fronting the business of acquiring and distributing the said motorcycles instead of engaging a competent contractor to execute the said transaction. According to him, they never had a momentary respite since they acquire the motorcycle loan as the unilateral deduction of their hard earned salaries have continued unabated even after the loans have been duly settled. Another staff claimed that when deductions of his salary became unbearable, he deemed it right to travel to Bauchi to get the situation addressed after which the deductions halted for sometime which have already resumed with full force. Another staff says that it is a serious financial crime for any senior officer or group of senior officers to connive in order to short changed junior officers whom are at best grappling with the challenges of contemporary existence their hard earned salary.
To buttress their claims the staff claimed that Inspector Amshi Saleh’s salary is in the region of N81,000 but is currently riding one of the best wonder on wheels that money can buy. He was similarly alleged to have built a mansion as well as having landed properties in choice locations. Amshi was also alleged to present an expensive car to the ACG as a gift. They equally claimed that his accomplice, Senior Inspector of Prison Abdullahi Ali’s salary is in the region of N121,000. Like his accomplice Amshi, Abdullahi was also alleged to be changing car as one is changing his clothes.
In a telephone chat, the comptroller of Nigeria Prison Service Adamawa State command Andrawus Barka revealed to this medium that the issue of salary is beyond his capacity and refers this reporter to their headquarters in Abuja for verification even as he added that he has no influence over even his own salary let alone any member of his staff.
Efforts to contact the ACG for his comments on the issue through persistent calls via his mobile number were futile as all the calls were unanswered. Similarly, a text message sent to his number was not responded to as at the time of filing this report.
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