The Nigeria Police has adopted an attitude of lies and misinformation to cover its maltreatment of police officers who served in the recently concluded election in Ondo State, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Thousands of police officers were deployed from neighbouring states to join their colleagues in Ondo to provide security for the election, which was described as largely peaceful, free and fair by election observers.
First to make a false claim was the police spokesperson in Ondo, Femi Joseph, who on Monday claimed that no police officers protested their poor treatment during the election.
Scores of police officers protested at the Funbi-Fagun area of Ondo Town on Monday. The protesters, comprising regular and mobile police officers, barricaded the popular Ondo/Ile-Ife Expressway with patrol vehicles used for the Saturday election.
The blockade resulted in heavy traffic snarl on the highway which lasted several hours and left motorists and travellers stranded.
Some of the police officers who spoke to journalists, but refused to have their names mentioned, accused senior officers of the force of denying them their entitlements for the election.
They said as a result, they were left stranded 48 hours after the conclusion of the election.
“They refused to pay our allowances after the election, we all believed that the money was released by the Federal Government to our ‘Oga at the top’ but they refused to release the money to us,” one officer said.
“We will cause trouble and make them realize that they are the ones encouraging corruption in this country.”
The protesters later dispersed after their senior officials prevailed on them not to embarrass the government and that they would be paid soon, one of them told PREMIUM TIMES.
Despite pictorial evidence of the protest, and witnesses and participants narrating what they saw, Mr. Joseph, the Ondo spokesperson, claimed no protest held.
“There was no protest anywhere, it was the senior officer that was addressing the junior ones in Ondo for performing successfully well during the last Saturday’s election,” he said.
“In such a situation they may be shouting for joy and so some people thought it was a protest.”
A few hours after Mr. Joseph’s claim, the man who speaks for the Nigerian police, Dan Awunah, made a similar claim.
“No Police man went on rampage or protest on the street in Ondo town over non-payment of the election allowance,” Mr. Awunah said in a statement released to the media.
However, the claim that there was no protests fades in the face of another made by Mr. Awunah, a deputy commissioner of police.
The spokesperson said the police officers who participated in the election were being paid their allowance through the banks, in line with the federal government Treasury Single Account (TSA) Policy to ensure transparency and accountability.
“The payments commenced few days to the election and most of the personnel confirmed receipt of payment alerts into their accounts before the election,” Mr. Awunah said.
“However, those personnel who submitted incomplete accounts details and moribund accounts numbers have been rectified and they have started receiving their money.
“The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations for the election is currently in Ondo State and has debriefed the personnel after the election duties,” he said in the Monday statement.
Contrary to Mr. Awunah’s claims, however, majority of the police officers deployed for the election from neighbouring states have not been paid a dime.
PREMIUM TIMES spoke to police officers who were deployed to Ondo from states like Oyo, Ogun and Osun State. They all sought anonymity for fear of victimisation.
They were part of the 26,000 that the police deployed for the election.
“Nobody from Osun State has received a dime before or during the election,” one of the about 500 officers deployed from the state told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
“How can the police claim there were problems with account numbers. Is that not the account we use in receiving our salaries,” he said.
Other police officers, who partook in the protest, also made similar confirmations.
“I left Ondo yesterday (Monday). I arrived on Sunday. For one week, no accommodation was provided, no feeding, no allowance. That is bad. It’s like the police hierarchy deliberately encourage us to be corrupt,” another officer deployed from Oyo State said.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how some police officers slept on the floors of police stations, on streets and with families and friends for the week they were in Ondo as the authority made no provision for them.