Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri
Vehicular and human movements were temporarily brought to a halt in Owerri, the Imo State capital, as a group of protesters demanded the immediate review and increase of the salaries and welfare packages of the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.
The protesters displayed various placards with inscriptions such as ‘We demand immediate review and increase of our police officers’ salaries’, ‘Nigerian police deserve the best’, ‘Federal Government, stop paying police officers pittance as salaries’, and ‘Without police there will be anarchy in Nigeria’.
They marched through various streets in the state capital before arriving the police headquarters where they sang songs and demanded to see the State Commissioner of Police.
The demonstration was on the auspices of Genius Eyes International Foundation for the Hopeless.
They addressed a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, through the commissioner of police in the state, Chris Ezike.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Mr. Paulcy Iwuala, said the story of the family of Chukwudi Iboko, who died as a result of the gunshot injuries he sustained during the February 22, 2017, Zenith Bank robbery, which he read In The PUNCH Newspapers prompted the demonstration.
Iwuala said, “I visited the wife of Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko after I read in The PUNCH Newspapers the pitiable condition of the family he left behind.
“I visited the family, interacted with the widow and her seven surviving children and our Foundation came to a conclusion that the police officers in Nigeria deserve more than they are getting as salaries and allowances from the Federal Government presently.”
He said that since the police officers themselves could not protest, the foundation had decided to embark on the protest on their behalf.
“The newspaper, which reported that an Inspector in Nigeria Police Force does not earn up to N700,000 as a monthly salary angered us. How can you expect the best from the police officers when they are poorly paid and treated? The police officers are under stress. They are going through a lot.
“We Nigerians seek a review of the salary structure and other welfare packages for the police officers, for it is said that a hungry man is an angry man.
“It is high time we started treating our police officers well so that people can be encouraged to join the force. It is known all over that the composition of the Nigeria Police Force is far below average, porous and highly inadequate,” Iwuala lamented.
Reacting after receiving the letter on behalf of the IGP, the CP urged the protesters to work towards making sure that the bill on Police Trust Fund, which was before the National Assembly, was quickly passed into law.
Assuring the protesters that he would deliver their petition to the IGP, Ezike asserted that beyond the police Trust Fund, the police hierarchy and the Federal Government were working hard to make sure that the police were provided with the logistics they needed to effectively carry out their assignments.
Ezike said, “While I promise to deliver your protest letter to the Inspect General of Police, I implore you to join my command in flushing out cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery in Imo State.
“Cultism is the mother of all crimes; as youths, help the police with local intelligence and information to make our society better.”
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