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Junior NCoS officers protest new mandatory uniform for promotion exams


Junior NCoS officers protest new mandatory uniform for promotion exams

Story from Uji A ILIYASU 

There has been a silent protest among junior officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) over the decision of management to make the wearing of new uniform a prerequisite for them to participate in the forthcoming promotion examination despite failure to provide them with the new uniform free as they did for their senior colleagues.

The affected officers raised the alarm regarding the promotion examination scheduled to hold between Monday, 1 July 2024, and Saturday 6 July 2024.

Some of the affected personnel who spoke to journalists on Thursday noted that in paramilitary agencies, the rank and file get their uniforms free, but the reverse was the case in NCoS.

One of the officers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said, “The NCoS changed its uniform in 2019, and since then, there has been a gradual phase-out of the old uniform.

“It started with the Controller-General to the Chief Superintendents of Corrections getting it free according to plan, and it stopped.

“Now, they are forcing other officers to get the uniform from the open market when the due allocation was made for free distribution of the uniform and other accoutrements.

“They are now using the upcoming promotion interview to activate this enforcement.”

Another affected officer simply said, “They always wait for promotion interview time to implement such draconian policies.

“They said uniform is not being given free as promised. It is not available in our command stores nationwide. Officers are resorting to self-help by buying in the open market, this is bad.”

One more officer noted that the service personnel have four different uniforms, lamenting that in the market, a uniform “costs N4,000 per trouser length, and we are using three trouser lengths for one complete uniform. So, we need a minimum of N12,000 to buy the materials for one complete set of uniforms,” he said.

He alleged that some people got the materials of the new uniforms “from the central store and gave them out to some others to sell for them.”

A circular dated 24 June 2024, announced the timetable for the third batch of 2024 promotion examination for officers on the ranks of Inspector/Superintendent to Assistant Controller of Corrections.

The circular with reference number GEN.24/S.21/T2/VOL.IV/632 was signed by the Assistant Controller-General of Corrections (HR), Dr Ado Sale.

Aside from other conditions stipulated for officers eligible to take part in the promotion examination, the circular added in paragraph 7 that, “Eligible officers must appear in the new NCoS uniforms.”

The spokesman for NCoS, Abubakar Umar, said, “The true position of the Service is that from Level 7 (junior officers) downwards, they are not only given free uniforms but also the accoutrements and the jungle boots, while the senior officers buy their uniforms.”

Umar added that the Controller-General of the NCoS “never asked anyone to go to the open market to buy uniforms. As long as it’s available, it’ll be distributed.

While noting that the supply of the new uniforms which were launched in 2022 is “still ongoing considering the number of staff we have. So it’s being shared in phases.”

He said everybody would get the uniforms, adding that the Service frowns at any officer who goes to buy uniforms from the market, as such officer is liable to sanctions.

READ ALSO: NCoS dismisses Controller Haliru Nababa, 2 others for misconduct

When asked if officers who show up for the promotion examinations and accreditation but are not dressed in the new uniforms would be allowed to participate, the NCoS spokesman said, “I’m not aware of that stringent measure put in place. I can’t speak on that.

“Before now, they (officers) knew that the distribution of uniforms is according to the ranks, down the ladder. It will be a kind of mischief for somebody to say because the screening and promotion examinations are around the corner; they are now using that as cheap publicity and not appreciating the Controller-General’s efforts.”

In 2022, the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari changed the name of the Nigeria Prisons Service after signing the NCoS Act 2019 into law.

During the inauguration of the Information and Communications Technology Command and Control Rooms, and the unveiling of new uniforms for the staff of the NCoS, among others, former Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, had said that the new uniforms symbolised “the transition from a punitive prison system to a reformatory corrections system that is now the philosophy of the service.”

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