Junior Officers Protest As Prison Service Makes New Uniform Mandatory For Promotion Exam

THERE is currently disquiet among the junior officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service over the failure of the authorities to provide them with the service’s new uniform free as they did for their senior colleagues.

The affected officers have also raised the alarm over the decision of the authorities to make the wearing of the new uniform a condition for them to take part in a promotion examination scheduled for between Monday, July 1, 2024, and Saturday, July 6, 2024.

Some of the affected personnel who spoke with this newspaper on Thursday noted that in uniformed organisations, the rank and files get uniform free “but the phase-out reverse is 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 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.

“The 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.”

Another 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 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.”

Our correspondent sighted a circular dated June 24, 2024, announcing 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.”

When contacted by our correspondent, 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 markets, as such officer is liable to sanctions.

When asked if officers who show up for the promotion examinations and accreditation and 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 Nigerian 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.”

Prison Memo 1 Prison Memo 2

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