Gunshots as police protest against non-payment in Borno
A source in the town confirmed to The Guardian on phone that the incident was attended by shootings.
Although he could not explain the reason for the action, he said the demonstration impeded the free flow of traffic, as the policemen blocked roads.
He explained further that by midday, normalcy had been restored.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the police headquarters on Maiduguri-Kano expressway was barricaded.
One of the policemen claimed the protest was in response to the non-payment of their allowances in the last six months.
He said: “About 10,000 mobile policemen were deployed in the state from different commands but we have not received our allowances in the past six months.
We have been serving at the command headquarters since our deployment.
But some of us deployed in other locations outside the headquarters were being paid their allowances as and when due. We have been facing hardships as a result of the non-payment.
We have made several complaints but nobody listened to us.”
According to NAN: “The commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Damian Chukwu, blamed the non-payment on the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget.
He called on the protesting policemen to calm down and assured them that their allowances would be paid.”
The protest was said to have frightened teachers and students of schools in the area, disrupting the day’s academic work.
Protest by policemen over welfare issues is gradually becoming a pattern with, the most notorious being the 2002 revolt that necessitated the deployment of soldiers in key positions.
The then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had announced an immediate approval of funds for policemen who were being owed, stressing: “Payments will be jeopardised where mutiny is not called off.”
Police authorities, however, denied there had been a protest in Maiduguri.
According to Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, “Mobile Force personnel on special duty in Maiduguri went to the Borno State Police Command Headquarters on enquiry over the delay in the payment of their special duty allowance in the early hours of Monday and not on protest as reported in some media.”
He said the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has since directed the commissioner of police in the state to address the men on the delay in payment, and assure them that with the recent signing of the 2018 budget, they would soon heave a sigh of relief.
He said: “They (policemen) subsequently returned to their duty posts.
The IGP has ordered the Commissioner of Police (Police Mobile Force -PMF) to proceed to Maiduguri, Borno State and other states in the northeast where PMF personnel are deployed on special duty, to lecture and inform them on the efforts being made by the Force to ensure the timely payment of special duty and other allowances to police personnel in the northeast.
“The PMF personnel that went on the enquiry are not those attached to Operation Lafiya Dole in the fight against insurgency but those in the category of visiting PMF units deployed in Maiduguri on crime prevention and other police duties in the state.”
But the Presidency, yesterday, summoned the IGP on the development. He was seen heading towards the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
A source at the villa disclosed that the police chief was actually there to brief on the protest.
Idris departed without speaking to any journalist.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the protest as unfortunate and an ugly epitaph of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“Is it not disconcerting that policemen, who daily risk their lives at battlefronts with criminals, are denied their allowances for months; left without accommodation, without basic needs, and kept forlorn in the face of battle, while their commander-in-chief and top officers enjoy the comfort of their huge offices in Abuja, from where they grandstand about their non-existent commitment to security?” asked a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.
The PDP said there was more to the situation than met the eyes and called for an urgent investigation, the findings of which should be made public. It also urged the policemen to exercise restraint.
In a related development, the Presidency, yesterday, explained the growing insecurity in the country.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Garba Shehu, told reporters at the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) it was the handiwork of persons displeased by the successes of the administration.
“The president has blocked access to national resources by lazy people. Therefore, he is being fought. They will continue to fight the president.
But the happiness we have is that ordinary Nigerians understand the conspiracy against them and they are with the president,” he said.