Junior Officers Protest NCoS Mandatory New Uniform Policy for Promotion Exam

There is currently unrest among junior officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) due to the authorities’ failure to provide them with the new service uniform for free, as was done for their senior colleagues. These officers have also raised concerns about the requirement to wear the new uniform to participate in a promotion examination scheduled from Monday, July 1, 2024, to Saturday, July 6, 2024.

Several affected personnel spoke to PUNCH Online, highlighting that typically, uniformed organizations provide uniforms free of charge to rank-and-file members, but this has not been the case with the NCoS. An anonymous officer stated, “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 for free, and it stopped. Now, they are forcing other officers to get the uniform from the open market despite allocations being made for free distribution.”

Another officer expressed frustration, saying, “They always wait for promotion interview time to implement such draconian policies. The uniform is not being given for free as promised and is not available in our command stores nationwide. Officers are resorting to self-help by buying in the open market. This is bad.”

The financial burden of purchasing the uniforms was also highlighted, with one officer noting that a complete uniform set costs a minimum of N12,000, as each trouser length costs N4,000, and three lengths are needed per set. Allegations have also surfaced that materials for the new uniforms are being sold illicitly by some individuals.

A circular dated June 24, 2024, announced the timetable for the third batch of the 2024 promotion examination for officers, specifying that “Eligible officers must appear in the new NCoS uniforms.” This circular, signed by the Assistant Controller-General of Corrections (HR), Dr. Ado Sale, has added to the officers’ grievances.

In response to these concerns, the spokesman for NCoS, Abubakar Umar, stated that junior officers (Level 7 and below) are provided with free uniforms, accoutrements, and jungle boots, while senior officers purchase their uniforms. He emphasized that the Controller-General never directed anyone to buy uniforms from the open market and that the distribution of the new uniforms, launched in 2022, is ongoing.

Umar added, “The supply of the new uniforms is still ongoing considering the number of staff we have. So it’s being shared in phases.” He also mentioned that the Service frowns upon any officer buying uniforms from the market and such actions could lead to sanctions.

When questioned about the enforcement of the new uniform policy for the promotion exams, Umar 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.”

In 2022, the Nigerian Prisons Service was renamed the Nigerian Correctional Service following the signing of the NCoS Act 2019 into law. During the unveiling of new uniforms, former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated that the new uniforms symbolize the transition from a punitive prison system to a reformatory corrections system.


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