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Salary, Welfare: Danger Looms As Police Insist On Strike

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File Photo: Policemen on duty

Wage increase FG’s project, no strike plans – NPF

…We’ll adopt the 2002 approach’

…Silent protest in Zamfara

Commands on red alert

Despite the stern warning given by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to officers against embarking a proposed strike, some junior officers have vowed to proceed on the planned protest albeit silently in various commands across the country.

They aggrieved police personnel, mainly from the vocal junior officers, have insisted that nothing apart from the implementation of their demands would stop them from carrying out the protest, notwithstanding the likely labelling of their action as mutiny.

Early last month, some members of the rank and file had initially scheduled the protest for March 26, but swift and stern responses from the leadership of the Force appeared to have temporarily stopped the planned show of disenchantment over federal government’s alleged failure to give effect to its promised 20 per cent increment in the take home of police personnel across the board.

Blueprint Weekend also gathered that improvement in working conditions including sophisticated weapons and other work paraphernalia to confront and combat criminal elements with welfare for the rank and file were the other demands.

However, barely one week after the scheduled protest by some junior officers seemed to have been nipped in the bud, the aggrieved personnel have rekindled their efforts to bring the protest to life.

It was further gathered that the despairing officers have rescheduled the strike to begin on April 6 after the March salaries would have been paid.

They said it would be held if the federal government failed to implement the 20 per cent increase in salary announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in June last year during a one-day visit to Lagos state, to inaugurate a 157-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard rail project at the Mobolaji Johnson railway station in Ebutte Metta and the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project.

The president was quoted to have said, “We are currently recruiting 10,000 new police officers to reinforce our personnel capacity across the country. In addition, I have directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to carry out an upward review of police salaries and benefits.”

However, 10 months after, the promise seems like a mirage and the junior officers are not taking it lightly as they have vowed to ensure that it’s not another unfulfilled promise.

The leadership of the Force has consistently denied that conditions were as bad as were being presented by the junior officers, they have warned against a resort to any form of strike because of the dangerous implications.

NPF’s reaction

Reacting to the latest development via a telephone conversation with our correspondent, the NPF through the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, first denied any such proposal, saying, “It is stale news. There is no such plan by any police personnel from any quarters.

“In fact, the salary increment is a federal government project. You should go to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Police Affairs to find out when the package will be implemented. It is not the IGP that is responsible for that.”

In the beginning

At first, the police authorities denied any proposed strike by the rank and file, describing it as another fake news championed by the social media.

However, in a document referenced 4001/AJR/NPF/ABJ/0l 7/188 addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali, the disenchanted policemen said, “We are not happy at all. Strike is the only language the Nigerian government understands. We, the junior officers, would stop going to our duty posts including those who are attached to politicians on and from the said date.

“Our demands include poor salaries, removal of police personnel from the devilish contributory pension scheme, and non-issuance of kits.

“We also want the government to address non-payment of duty tour allowances, non-payment of course allowances, poor barracks accommodation, non-promotion as at when due.

“Also, the National Housing Fund scheme has been deducting N3, 000 from our salaries for a long time now.”

IGP’s reaction

Despite earlier denying that the Force’s personnel were planning to embark on strike over non-implementation of the new salary package, the IGP warned that any strike or disruption of law enforcement services would be treated as mutiny. He consequently issued a signal to respective police Commands via a wireless message dated March 15, 2022, with reference number, CB: 4001/DOPS/FHQ/ABJ/Vol, which urged heads of departments and state commissioners of police directing them to sensitise their officers on the dire consequences of going on strike as steps had been taken to address their concerns.

The signal read: “Intelligence reports available to the Inspector General of Police indicate that some members of the rank and file are intending to embark on strike over non-payment of the new Police salary structure, and failure in providing sophisticated weapons to fight crime and poor general welfare of policemen.

“Note that the Inspector General of Police has directed the immediate computation of salary, under the new salary structure, tax relief/exemption for officers and men for immediate implementation.

The signal read: “Intelligence reports available to the Inspector General of Police indicate that some members of the rank and file are intending to embark on strike over non-payment of the new Police salary structure, and failure in providing sophisticated weapons to fight crime and poor general welfare of policemen.

“Note that the Inspector General of Police has directed the immediate computation of salary, under the new salary structure, tax relief/exemption for officers and men for immediate implementation.

“Distribution of kits and other accoutrements have been initiated with Force Headquarters already concluded.”

Also, Adejobi, who signed that signal, said: “It is pertinent to restate that the Nigeria Police Force is a regimented and disciplined organisation with laid down rules and guidelines for addressing grievances and in no circumstance is a strike action one of such means.

“The men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are fully aware that a strike action or other deliberate disruption of law enforcement services by any security organisation is mutinous and the personnel of the Force would not degenerate at any point to that level of disloyalty and indiscipline, as policing services are paramount and essential in the maintenance of orderliness and peace in the nation.”

Four arrow heads summoned, detained, one on the run

Weekend Blueprint can authoritatively report that the four officers including two Inspectors and Sergeants that spearheaded the threat to embark on strike have been arrested and detained for questioning for using a whatsApp group to incite public disorder. But one of the four is alleged to be at large.

Specifically, the charge said Inspector Raji Ibrahim and his colleagues were alleged to have used social media to incite members of the Force and the general public to public disorder and insubordination to constituted authorities. The summons said he and the other three were defaulted for the offence of discredited conduct, mutiny and disobedience to lawful order. Ibrahim, who serves in Osogbo and three others are those currently facing the music for using the social media to allegedly commit the aforementioned immoralities.

Osun police PRO’s declaration

When contacted, the Osun Police Public Relations Officer, Yemisi Opalola, said investigation had begun on the allegation that led to the arrest of the officers.

It was gathered that the second key officer, an inspector that was fingered in the strike plan, had not been arrested and plans were still on to get him arrested.

The strike remains

Despite the proactive actions taken to starve off the strike, a middle-level officer, who prefers not to be named, insisted that the strike was inevitable, but would take a form other than what was initially intended.

The DSP said: “There is no going back. It will hold no matter what the IGP does. He is only trying to save his job. The rank and file are ready to adopt the ‘2002 approach’ that simply means some selected officers could be targeted and dealt with.

“Yes, we shall be at our duty posts, but without doing any concrete work. The plan is to adopt the 2002 approach whereby the rank and file were seen at their duty posts, but without lifting a finger to do anything. Even then, some senior officers, who usually are lackadaisical on the matter of welfare for the rank and file, became sitting ducks and, therefore, were picked and dealt with at will. Don’t be surprised if a similar method is adopted for effect.

“Those to effect the strike know they are being victimised, but are ready for the consequences. The members of the rank and file will not prevent anyone from going to work. No, they will go to work, but will do no actual work. Besides, by the time there are a few casualties among the senior ranks nobody will tell those concerned to act quickly. That is the language that our leaders understand.

“The strike may not be strong in Abuja, but it wouldn’t be so in other Commands. What happened in Zamfara where some rank and file silently carried out the strike last Saturday was to test the waters. When the signal to formally commence the no-work action is given it shall be smoothly done.”

The source insisted that it is a matter of days before the reality of the threat would dawn on those concerned.

“We are waiting for this month’s salaries to be paid. Though they sometimes delay payment, we are hoping that between April 4 and 6, it should be paid. If not then those concerned would hear from us. Notwithstanding the threat to accuse anyone who engages in the strike of mutiny, there are determined ones among us who are willing and ready for any state craft that may be deployed to attempt to deny them of their rights.

“Since Ibrahim and others had the courage to speak up using social media, those who have hitherto been suffering in silence are now more determined not to keep quiet anymore. The situation is such that whether one speaks or keeps quiet the rank and file will be victimised and unless the supreme price is paid the maltreatment and injustice in the Nigerian Police will remain unabated.

IGP’s moves

“It’s true that NASS summoned the IGP and discussed what needed to be done, but it’s all talk and no action – motion without movement. Whether the IGP issues a threat or not we are certain that those that will carry out the no-work action are ready despite the consequences.

“The IGP, like his predecessor in 2002, is only trying to save his head. Well, since the government prefers the ‘2002 approach’ we shall ensure a repeat of that episode where some officers were selected and dealt with. Maybe that’s the language that the government understands.

“The other ranks and file in the South-east, South-south, South-west, North-west and other Commands across the other geo-political divides are ready. I am sure you heard what happened silently in Zamfara state on Saturday, March 26, when some of our members quietly carried out the no-work exercise.

Govt’s threat

The DSP dismissed the threat as a lame-dog approach to solving serious security matters, stressing that the alleged plan by the government to charge anyone found to have been involved in the plan and the actual eventual execution of the strike for mutiny is an action with the potential to further weaken the feeble security in the country.

On red alert

Despite denying knowledge of any planned strike, our correspondents gathered that all DPOs have been directed to ensure strict compliance.

It was further learnt that some administrators of groups of social media within the police stations, divisions and units have been warned against any mention of issues in connection with the planned strike.

Some were queried, while others in order to avoid trouble with the police authorities have opted to exit the groups.

Also, all use of social media – whatsApp, facebook, Instagram, snapchat, Tik-tok and tweeter – for the purpose of sharing any information with respect to the proposed strike has been banned.

Also, the IGP has directed that a register be kept for the rank and file to mark their presence at their respective duty posts from 8.00m daily until the close of work.

This was particularly observed on the 26 and 27th of March 26 and 27, even though it was subsequently relaxed even as the rank and file are required to inform their superiors every hour about their whereabouts in addition to obtaining official permission if there is any reason to be absent at one’s duty post.

Commands’ denials

Our correspondents across some states sought to know what preparations the various Commands were making to starve off the strike, but the Commands denied knowledge of any plan to embark on no-work action by the rank and file.

The FCT Police Public Relations Officer, PSP Josephine Adeh, denied that there was any such arrangement to carry a work-to-rule action within the Command.

According to her, the Command has not received any public notice to that effect and, therefore, cannot say such a rumoured plan is in the making.

“We are not aware of any plan by the police to go on strike. The FCT Command is not aware of such a proposal. We have neither any public document nor heard about any such plan within the command. Again, we are not aware and therefore cannot make plans for what is not real,” she said confidently.

Similarly, the spokesman of the Lagos state Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said, “I am just hearing that from you for the first time; I am not aware, whether you call it mutiny, protest or whatever name it is being called, I am not aware.”

Likewise, the Osun Police Public Relations Officer, Yemisi Opalola, gave the assurance that the officers would not go on strike.

She said, “There will not be any strike because the DIG has conveyed the plan of the Inspector General of Police to address the issue raised to the officers when he came to Osun recently.

“They are seriously working to attend to the request of the police officers and I can assure you that the plan to embark on strike has been shelved.”

Source: Blueprint Newspapers

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