Mobile Police (MOPOL) officers assigned to Lafiya Dole, a special military operation set up to tackle insurgency in northeast Nigeria, have complained about the protracted non-payment of their operational allowances.
Operation Lafiya Dole [Peace by All Means] was launched in 2015 by the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, “to end this terrorism quickly” and address other security challenges.
Troops under the exercise constantly collaborate with the Nigeria Police, Air Task Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Civilian Joint Task Force, and other agencies. They are present in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, and some other states.
HumAngle, however, gathered that MOPOL officers assigned to the operation, said to number about 5,000, have not been paid allowances for at least five months by the Nigeria Police. Attempts to complain have been met with threats by the authorities.
“We have been on this Operation Lafiya Dole for over five months now without allowance. And any time we talk about our allowance, they would threaten to dismiss us,” said one of the officers who spoke anonymously to prevent him from getting punished.
There are consequences for raising objections publicly about the welfare of officers. He recounted that, in 2019, one of their colleagues was arrested after he complained in a post on Facebook. “They sent a chopper from Abuja to arrest him,” he said and no one is sure about his status till date.
“They have been threatening that nobody should post anything on social media pertaining to the allowance,” he added.
“We have families and children, some in the university, and we need these little things to assist ourselves. We have been complaining, we want to go on protest. But we are afraid because, if we protest, it will be easy for them to trace us.”
Another major problem faced by the operatives, the officer said, was the poor quality and quantity of food provided.
“It used to be two to three times in a day but now our authorities have connived with the contractors and reduced it to once in a day, and that one time the quality and quantity is not even enough,” he alleged.
One of the meals delivered in November. Officers, sources say, are served only once every day.
Personnel of the Mobile Police unit had staged a protest in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, in July 2018 owing to similar grievances. Their allowances had not been paid for six months.
“The officers, who were fully armed, marched in their hundreds on the Borno State Police Headquarters located on the major highway in the town. They were however prevented from gaining access into the police complex,” reported ThisDay newspaper.
“They also complained that many of them were subjected to inhuman treatment as they had to sleep in the corridor of the office on returning from duty at night.”
Reacting to the development, force spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, had clarified that the protesting officers were not part of those attached to Operation Lafiya Dole.
‘Let the military pay us’
The officers have suggested that they should instead be paid by the Nigerian Army considering the Nigeria Police’ history of inconsistency.
“What we want now is for Mr President to make our allowances paid alongside those of soldiers,” one of them proposed.
“Soldiers, I think, are getting paid every month even together with recharge card allowance. In a month, soldiers used to go home with N45,000. But we that ours is only N30,000, our authorities have failed to pay us and they continue threatening us.
“If it is possible, you should inform Mr President that they should hand over the Mobile Policemen operational allowance to soldiers to pay the policemen because our men that are under the military are being paid regularly.”
The officer said the delayed payment affects thousands of MOPOL operatives from Borno to Yobe state. There are about 75 MOPOL units, he explained, and each one has about 65 officers.
“Mr President should help us. Soldiers should pay us. We want to be paid by soldiers because they used to pay on time,” he stressed.
Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, did not answer calls placed to his line on Tuesday. He also did not reply a text message asking whether the force headquarters is aware of the MOPOL officers’ complaints and what the police is doing about them.