Metro

Police Deployment to North-East, Officers Beg to Avoid ‘Boko Haram States’

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Some policemen afraid of the violence that has become the norm in the North-Eastern part of the country, have begun to lobby their bosses to avoid being posted there.

The Nigeria Police Force recently said it would begin the first phase of the deployment of over 6,000 policemen in liberated communities in the North-East.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have been hard hit by the Boko Haram insurgents in the last decade and are trouble spots.

The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, had disclosed that the logistics procured and the personnel mobilized for the first phase of the deployment would be launched on March 18.

But, it seems that some policemen have started lobbying to be exempted from the planned deployment.

Many of them have resorted to seeking the help of their commissioners of police and other influential superior officers both at the state commands and the force headquarters to avoid the redeployment.

A senior police officer said that some policemen had indeed been lobbying not to be posted to the North-East and described the situation as “normal”.

He said, “People have been trying to lobby but it is just the people who have strong connections with the Inspector-General of Police or other very high ranking officers that are likely to be successful.

“Normally, 80 per cent of policemen posted to the North-East are usually rank and file. Usually, it is the people who have stepped on their bosses’ toes that are transferred to the North-East to be punished.

“Their superiors would send their names to the Commissioner of Police to be transferred. And they will have to serve a minimum of three years before they get another transfer.”

Some policemen confirmed that they have been lobbying their way out of the deployment plan.

An Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Oyo State Police Command, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was already lobbying his superiors in the office to avoid being part of the over 6,000 policemen to be deployed to the North-East, describing Nigeria as unworthy of such sacrificial service.

He said, “I will do everything to lobby my way out of such a posting. I don’t mind any amount that it would cost me. How can I be happy to be transferred from where I am enjoying my relative peace?

“Normally, when someone is transferred to a place like the North-East, he is entitled to some allowance and accommodation for 22 days because it is assumed that he will need time to settle down. It is what our constitution says, but we don’t enjoy anything like that.

“I hear policemen in the North-East are supposed to be paid N10,000 monthly allowance aside from their salary but the last time they were paid the allowance was eight months ago.”

A Chief Superintendent of Police, who simply gave his name as Michael Davies, said most of the rank and file in the force would rather resign than be deployed in the North-East. He said most policemen avoid such postings because they are inadequately equipped to fight insurgency.

He said, “I don’t think anyone of them wants to go to the troubled region. Those who were transferred to the place in the past resigned immediately. But who would blame them?

“The Boko Haram insurgents fight with Uzis, armoured tankers and other sophisticated weapons while our people are sent to fight them with Hilux vans and AK 47 guns.

“For us to win the war against the terrorists in the North-East, the police ought to be adequately equipped.”

A police sergeant in the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command said,“Nobody waits till postings and redeployments are out before they start lobbying not to be posted to unsafe states,” he said, adding, “We all find a way to warm up to our superiors so that they could help us when posting comes.”

An Assistant Superintendent of Police in Ogun State Command, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also confirmed the situation.

He said, “Our people will do anything to avoid being posted to the North-East because policemen die like chickens there. The weapons are bad, yet you expect people to be happy about being posted to such a war zone.”

A police corporal in the anti-robbery unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department of the Lagos State Police Command explained that even though he had got no news of impending redeployment to the Northern part of the country, it is a prospect that would depress any policeman.

He said, “It is like receiving your death warrant if you receive a letter redeploying you to any of the North-East states. I am personally afraid of something like that. It is not that I am a coward. I am a human like you.”

Another policeman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “If we hear that anyone is posted to the North-East, it immediately makes us think of death.”

He recalled how one of his colleagues, who was posted to Borno State in 2013, was killed within six months of arriving there.

Meanwhile, some members of the Police Officers Wives Association have been living in fear since news of the planned redeployment broke.

The women said they would rather have their husbands jobless at home than lose them to Boko Haram insurgency.

However, some of them asked for adequate welfare package, including life insurance for their husbands, if they would be compulsorily transferred to the trouble region.

Lagos based fashion designer, Mrs. Ngozi Uka, whose husband is a sergeant at Lagos State Command, said the insurance package would help the family in case of unforeseen circumstances.

She said, “My prayer is that my husband is not sent to such a place. But I know the nature of his work, anything can happen. He has served in four states since we got married 12 years ago. So, I would be deceiving myself if I think he could not be posted to any part of the country.

“But in this case, it is not a normal situation. We need to have insurance. The welfare package should be increased in case of anything. I tell you, you need to see how people are hurriedly sent out of the barracks whenever their spouses die.”

Mrs. Rosemary Udoh, the wife of a police constable, demanded special treatment for families of policemen sent to dangerous areas.

She said, “The chance that the men will return home alive is very slim, so they should have proper insurance packages.

Maria Eze, another wife of a police inspector, said her husband would not proceed on any transfer if the welfare package was not improved.

“He would rather stay back home than to go there and get killed for nothing. We have already discussed it and thank God he agreed,” Eze said.

But the Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, said the first batch of 6,000 policemen to be deployed in the North-East had been selected and would soon be transported to the region.

“There is nothing like lobbying, we don’t have such a report, and no policeman will reject the posting because it is a call to duty,” she said.

Kolawole dismissed the fear of the wives of the policemen and assured them that their husbands’ allowances would be paid as and when due.

She added that the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, had made provision for their welfare and well-being.

Kolawole added that the policemen had also been insured and that all the required logistics and equipment would be provided for them.

Famutimi Femi is a writer for theheraldng. He is also a lawyer by trade. His hobbies include reading and writing, he also loves Renaissance art.

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