By Francis Okoye
The presidency yesterday summoned the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum-Idris, over a protest by hundreds of Mobile policemen serving in Borno State. The Police personnel were said to have protested over non-payment of their monthly salaries and allowances. The IGP who was in Aso Rock presidential villa yesterday was seen heading towards the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari. A top presidency source who preferred to remain anonymous said the IGP was in the villa to brief the presidency on the Police protest. The policemen had reportedly blocked the Maiduguri-Kano road, the only free exit in and out of Maiduguri, in protest of nonpayment of their seven months allowance by the Police authority.
The protest that lasted for hours forced commuters to ply alternative routes as a result of the reverberating sound of gunshots from the front of the Borno State Police Command headquarters where the protests took place. A male mobile policeman who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity said while their military counterparts in the Joint Taskforce operation in Borno are not owed any penny, the police authority has refused to pay their own allowances for the past seven months. The Police officer who did not want his name in print for fear of victimisation added that their employers do not owe even members of the Civilian Joint Taskforce run by Borno State government.
“We are not happy with what is happening. For the past seven months, we have not been paid our allowances. We have no accommodation; most of us are sleeping in the open field despite the danger of the zone we are operating. Some of us in the local government areas who are there to restore civil authority in the liberated Communities are faced by hunger and starvation as a result of this,” the source said. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has denied that policemen protested in Maiduguri over non-payment of their special duty allowance. The Force PRO, Jimoh Moshood, said, “It is not correct that police personnel protested in Maiduguri today, July 2, 2018 (yesterday). Some of the Police Mobile Force 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 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 has been approved, the allowances will be expeditiously processed and paid without any further delay. They subsequently returned to their duty posts. “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; 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 Force spokesman maintained that the Police Mobile Force personnel that embark on the voyage of enquiry are not those attached to Operation Lafiya Dole in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast. According to Moshood, they are in 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”, he added.