on 27 March 2017, the euphoria that greeted the inauguration of officers of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps was laud and promising. The expectation was that the board of the Safety Agency under the leadership of DIG Israel Ajao (rtd.) will pilot the organization into becoming the much anticipated State Police. Rather, we are disheartened to note that the Agency is being derailed from its main objective by the flip-flop attitudes of the leadership towards the welfare and unpaid salaries of its officers in batches 3 & 4.
The deliberate and repeated game of disinformation spearheaded by DIG Ajao (rtd.) is simply unfortunate to say the least. Having to toy with the welfare its Corps Officers without the slightest remorse beats our imaginations. His threat that he won’t pay more than two (2) months is inhuman and unlawful. The question as to whether he gave the affected officers letter of appointment is quite disappointing. We know for a fact that as at the writing of this press release, no Safety Corps member has gotten a letter of appointment, including officers with uniform. If this Safety Agency was built to enforce law and ensure Equity and Justice, it must be seen to do same to all its officers irrespective of the batch they belong.
It will therefore amount to gross injustice to ask officers in batches 3 & 4 to undergo an almost one year training without pay, when their colleagues in batches 1 & 2 were not subjected to same treatment and length training without pay. We learnt those officers were engaged in April 2017 were paid 4 months salary in August 2017, 3 months later they got a month’s salary each, and in December 2017 they were paid another 4 months salary in bulk. We then question the rationale behind DIG Ajao’s insistence on paying 2 months salary to officers in batches 3 & 4.
Need we remind the DIG Ajao (rtd.) that your Agency asked the affected officers to state in their First Bank Salary Account opening documents that they were engaged October 2017. Even at that they cannot be paid two or one month salary. Yet the truth is that the officers started working in May 2017 at least we know some Honourables like S. O. Agunbiade (our beloved Majority Leader) from Ikorodu centre could attest to hearing or seeing Corps in white t-shirt and black trouser. By this deliberate act of divide and rule the authorities of Neighbourhood Safety Agency has polarized its officers and thus create in them a spirit of mutual distrust and dislike. This is not the Safety Corps we envisaged. This current divided Corps Officers cannot transform into the much vaulted State Police we all anticipate.
We learnt on authority, that some Corps Officers have been listed for punishment for daring to honour invitations duly extend to them by the State House of Assembly to witness proceedings in the honourable House has members seek clarifications on issues of unpaid salaries from the Board Chairman of Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Agency. This act of impunity amounts to a total disregard of the directive of the House that the said Officers should not be harassed in any form. It, thus, questions the legislative authority of the House to provid the concerned officers immunity harassment. The names of the affected officers were circulated to their respective offices with instructions that they be barred from entering. Our appeal goes to the authorities of the House to please intervene on behalf of these hunted Safety Officers.
In particular, we hope the Honourable Speaker will directly intervene to help save the job and career of these gallant officers who appeared at the House hearing. We are of the opinion that this officers have followed the path of peace by approaching the House to present their grievances, as a last resort. It will amount to grave injustice if they are punished for being law abiding officers.
Let us also put it on record that a particular Corps Officer was suspended from office for allegedly allowing some of his officers participate in what they call ‘Protest’ – that is for being present at the House hearing on unpaid salaries. We are however, glad to he has been reinstated for want of evidence. On two occasions Corps Officers from batches 3 & 4 were camped in their area offices by the directive of the Agency to prevent them from appearing at the House Hearing on LNSC Unpaid Salary problems. We consider this treatment as inhumane and distaste, coercing officers from voicing their grievances when there are no proper dispassionate official channel to do same without fear of being reprimanded.
The Chairman’s claim that he is not owing anyone portend a very bad omen for the future of the Agency created to protect the security integrity of the State. His comments that the officers were being trained, for close to one year without pay and they were not pre-informed, was made in bad faith. If this is the picture of the State Police DIG Ajao (red.) wants to give us in Lagos, we better make do with the current Police.
Consequently, we like to reiterate our advise that primacy be given to the welfare of Safety Officers in batches 3 & 4 to further boost their confidence to fight crime and criminality in the State alongside their senior colleagues in batches 1 & 2.
Once again, we are earnestly APPEALING to our amiable Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in particular and the Honourable Speaker of our State Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, strongly prevail on the authorities of Neighbourhood Safety Corps to look into plight of these affected and demoralized Corps Officers in batches 3 & 4 with view to crediting their accounts with the unpaid salaries.
AbdulAziz S. Omololu