At the Agege Stadium on 27 March 2017, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode inaugurated officers of the newly created Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) with avowed promise to adequately equip them and take care of their welfare. With that flagoff, the Safety Corps Officers started their promising career. Regrettably though that avowed promise is being toyed with by the Board of the Safety Agency led by DIG Israel Ajao (rtd.). We regard the payment of the two months salaries to batches 3 & 4 officers as a Greek Gift and an arm twisting tactics.
Hoever, we commend the authorities of the Safety Agency for the payment of two months to Corps Officers in batches 3 & 4 as against the eleven months unpaid salaries, While we assert that this was not what we agreed on and not what we had expected, we believe it is better than nothing. Our expectation is that the Safety Agency will deem it necessary and moral to pay the outstanding ten months unpaid salaries without further delay.
The failure of the Neighbourhood Safety Agency to pay the Officers of batches 3 & 4 all the salaries owed them is not only an impunity but a deliberate disrespect of ruling, which was made in our favour. We recall that the court and the Speaker pronounced that the affected Corps Officers be paid the eleven months owe them. The judgement is still subsisting. Neither has the judgement been appealed nor dismissed. Our pursuit of out of court discussions with the State House of Assembly and the Safety Agency demonstrates that we are law-abiding and peaceful. We sheathed our litigating sword to defer to the intervention of the *LSHA* and other respected stakeholders. It is our prayer that we would have no cause to seek the court option again.
We are equally not ignorant of the desperate and unlawful attempt by LNSC authorities to fast-forward the employment date of the Corps Officers in batches 3 & 4 by directing them to submit application letters backed with reference letters. Let it be noted that we drew the attention of the stakeholders to maltreatment. It must be reiterated that actions like this will further balkanize the Corps Officers in the Agency. Of course, officers in batches 1 & 2 were not given same questionable treatment; instead they were made to fill an application form without reference letters. While the Agency may term this a purely administrative procedure, we are obligated to put the public on notice that the same should not be used to harass and/or witch-hunt any of the affected officers.
In our opinion, treating the affected officers in the manner mentioned above demoralizes them and injures their self-esteem. Besides, DIG Ajao (rtd) constant denigrating of officers in batches 3 & 4, particularly in the media, is rather callous and spiteful. Suffice it to say that officers with low self-esteem will not give optimum performance. At the moment there are obvious evidences of maltreatment and polarization in the Neighbourhood Safety Corps. For instance, we have it on authority, that batches 3 & 4 were chased out of a State Intelligence Meeting, with further instruction that they should not hold any official position.
A demoralized, despised, unmotivated and polarized Corps Officers, in an Agency struggling to get its bearing, are not what we require in our tortious journey to State Police. This current Safety Agency can’t be the right template to sell our claim to State Police.
It is now very expedient for the State House of Assembly to do a holistic review of the activities of the Neighbourhood Safety Agency. If the Agency cannot put its house in order and ensure equity and justice for its officers, how then can we trust it to treat the communities it polices with equity and justice, how then can we trust it to manage a State Police Agency, how then can we trust it with the security of our dear State. Before our dream of State Police is short-lived and our journey jeopardized, we call on all stakeholders, which includes the State Government and State House of Assembly, to please help to save the Agency and direct it on the right path. The efforts, we advise, must start from addressing the training and welfare of ALL Corps Officers.
Once again, our APPEAL goes to our amiable Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in particular, the Honourable Speaker of our State House of Assembly and other stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, prevail on the Board of the Neighbourhood Safety Agency to UNITE its officers by properly integrating those affected and demoralized Corps Officers in batches 3 & 4. Besides, it should desist from maligning, denigrating, denying and witch-hunting them (i.e. removing or threatening to remove them from official positions). It should provide them with necessary palliative supports pending the full payment of their outstanding ten months unpaid salaries.
By: AbdulAziz S.O. (08034677717)