•Borno State police command, Force HQTRS differ
•Presidency summons IGP Idris
By Kingsley Omonobi, Ndahi Marama & Dirisu Yakubu
Maiduguri—Sporadic gunshots rent the air in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday as hundreds of mobile policemen deployed to the state to assist the military in the fight against Boko Haram took to the streets protesting non-payment of seven months allowances and promotion.
The shooting caused commotion as motorists and commuters deserted the streets of the capital city to avoid being hit by stray bullets.
Consequently, the Presidency, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, yesterday summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over the protest.
The protest, which also led to barricading of some major highways for over four hours, disrupted academic activities in many schools, as people scampered for safety along the busy Maiduguri-Damaturu-Kano Road where the state command headquarters is located.
Consequently, such schools as Ramat Polytechnic, Kashim Ibrahim College of Education, Arabic College, Government College and Yerwa Girls Secondary Schools, among others, also failed to open for the day’s activities.
Two of the teachers in the affected schools, Mallam Audu Ibrahim and Modu Isa, who spoke to Vanguard, said: “We could not bear the heavy sounds of gunshots with bullets flying around our school premises, which is a stone’s throw from the police command headquarters where the protest started.”
The protests, according to some of the police officers, is in connection with their seven months unpaid allowances.
The aggrieved mobile policemen, mainly rank and file, insisted that their allowances be paid with immediate effect or they would continue to disrupt socio economic activities in the city and other official duties at the state police command.
One of the protesters, who did not want his name in the print, said aside from unpaid allowances and non-promotion, the protest was further fuelled by the non-challant attitude of police authorities to their welfare.
Some other officers who spoke to Vanguard, also lamented that since January 2018, when they were deployed to the state on special operation, they had not been given their allowances.
They complained that many of them had to go through inhuman treatment, sleepiing on the corridor of offices on returning from duty at night.
When contacted on phone, the Borno Police Commissioner, Damian Chukwu, did not pick his calls.
Borno State police, Force HQTRS differ on protest
But Police Public Relations Officer of the state’s police command, DSP Edet Okon, confirmed the protest in a statement.
He said: “Today (yesterday) being 02/07/18 at about 0630hrs, personnel of the Police Mobile Force on Special duty came to Borno State Command Headquarters to inquire about the non-payment of their allowances for five months.
“The Police High Command is aware of their plight and liaising with federal government agencies to address the situation. We are hopeful that since the 2018 budget has been signed by the Presidency, the allowances will be paid soon.
“Meanwhile, efforts by officers of the command yielded results as the situation was brought under control. Members of the public are, therefore, encouraged to go about their lawful activities without any fear or apprehension.
“The IGP has consequently directed the Commissioner of Police In-charge of Police Mobile Force to relocate to Borno State and address the situation.
“The Borno State Government has also intervened and pledged to assist to better the condition of the visiting PMF personnel.”
But reacting to the protest yesterday, Force Headquarters in Abuja, dismissed reports of the protest, saying Police personnel never protested, explaining that the delay in the payment of their allowances was due to delayed passage of 2018 budget by the National Assembly.
The Force headquarters also explained that police officers, comprising mobile police personnel, rather went to Borno State Command headquarters in Maiduguri to enquire about the delay in the payment of their special duty allowance in the early hours of yesterday and not on a protest as reported.
The Force headquarters however said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had directed the Commissioner of Police in charge MOPOL to proceed to Borno and other states in the North East to explain the delay in payment of allowances.
Force HQTRS deny protest
Force Public Relations Officer, Acting DCP Jimoh Moshood, said in a statement issued last night: “The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to media report that policemen protested in Maiduguri over non-payment of their Special Duty Allowance.
“The Force wishes to categorically state that it is not correct that police personnel protested in Maiduguri today ( yesterday) July 2, 2018.
“Some of the Police Mobile Force, PMF, personnel on Special Duty in Maiduguri went to the Borno State Police Command Headquarters on enquiry over the delay in the payment of their special duty allowance in the early hours of today (yesterday) and not on protest as reported in some media.
“The Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, promptly directed the Commissioner of Police, Borno State, to address and inform them why there is delay in the payment of their special duty allowance, and also assure them that since the budget had been approved, the allowances will be expeditiously processed and paid without any further delay. They subsequently returned to their duty posts.
“Consequently, the IGP has ordered the Commissioner of Police, Police Mobile Force (PMF) to proceed to Maiduguri, Borno State and other states in the North East where PMF personnel are deployed on special duty.
“The COMPOL MOPOL is to lecture and inform them on the efforts being made by the Force to ensure timely payment of special duty and other allowances to police personnel in the North East of the country.
“The Police Mobile Force personnel that went on the enquiry are not those attached to Operation Lafiya Dole in the fight against insurgency in the North East but those on the category of visiting Police Mobile Force units deployed in Maiduguri on crime prevention and other Police duties in the state.
“Members of the Public in Maiduguri, Borno State are, hereby, enjoined not to panic but to go about their lawful duties and other responsibilities without fear or apprehension.
“The Nigeria Police Force is a disciplined organization and will not allow any situation to degenerate into disturbance of public peace anywhere in the country.
Presidency summons IGP, Idris Ibrahim
Meanwhile, the Presidency, yesterday, summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over the protest embarked upon by police personnel in Maiduguri.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IGP was seen heading towards the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, at the presidential villa, Abuja.
A source at the Presidential villa, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the IGP was in the villa to brief the Presidency on the police protest.
PDP slams FG
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the street demonstration by police personnel on duty in Borno State over unpaid allowances as unfortunate and a dent on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The party said the development has confirmed that the Buhari Presidency has not been committed to providing security for the troubled states, despite huge resources at its disposal, but has only been paying lip service and giving false assurances to the people.
In a statement issued by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party asked: “Is it not disconcerting that policemen, who daily risk their lives at the fronts, are denied their allowances for months; left unaccommodated, without basic needs and kept forlorn in the face of battle, while their Commander-in-Chief and top officers enjoy the comfort of their huge offices in Abuja, from where they grandstand about their non-existent commitment to security?
The PDP further said Nigerians now know “that this administration is overtly deceitful, thrives on propaganda, lies, false claims and is never committed to the good of the people even as it blames everyone else for its failures.
“We demand an urgent investigation to get to the root of this pathetic situation and stress that findings of such investigations must be made public.”
The party called on the aggrieved policemen to exercise restraint while calling on the top echelon of the force to do the needful as quickly as possible.