Lockdown enforcement: Security operatives lack protective gears, exposed to coronavirus

Lockdown enforcement: Security operatives lack protective gears, exposed to coronavirus


  • We’ve no helmets, face masks, goggles – Police

  • ‘Give us duty allowance like health workers’

  • No budget for COVID-19 but we’re trying – Force spokesman

  • Treat them like humans – Experts

 

Security operatives especially policemen drafted to enforce the lockdown order in many states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have alleged neglect by their superiors and government.

Many of those seen manning highways to enforce the lockdown lack Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which helps to protect against infection.

These include helmets, face masks, goggles and other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection.

Some of the security operatives spoken to on Tuesday said they have been exposed to verbal attacks over alleged excesses while enforcing the lockdown order to protect Nigerians from coronavirus while nobody is talking about their safety from the disease.

Multiple police sources spoken to by our correspondents across the states and the FCT said apart from not being provided with protective equipment, they were not being paid special duty or hazard allowance.

Daily Trust checks revealed that some of the security operatives deployed to the streets have resorted to compromising the lockdown order to curry favours from violators.

Speaking on the matter, Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said they were doing a lot to ensure the safety of their officers and men and assured that the PPEs would gradually reach all those deployed to enforce the lockdown.

 

Only civil defence, KASTELEA wear PPE

In Kaduna, apart from the police, those enforcing the lockdown include soldiers, civil defence and local vigilantes such as Civilian Joint Taskforce (JTF), Kaduna Vigilantes Service (KVG) and Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA) among others.

Daily Trust had two weeks ago reported that most of the security agencies on patrol or manning checkpoints and roadblocks did not have hand gloves or face masks while many of them were not observing the two metres person to person distancing.

The few seen with face masks told our reporter that they either bought for themselves or were given by health workers passing by.

Our correspondent who went round on Tuesday reports that not much has changed as only few civil defence and KASTELIA operatives have some of the protective gears.

“We are still here with no food, water and no protective kits from the virus,” said one of the police personnel, urging the media to voice their plight.

A police officer who spoke in confidence because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said they were not unmindful of the risks their operatives were exposed to.

“We are still hopeful that our superiors at the top would find a way of securing protective garments for us. I also hope the ministry of health and all those giving interventions in the fight against COVID-19 will remember us in their plans; we are exposed to the pandemic and deserve protection,” he said.

 

Abuja

In the FCT, some security operatives enforcing the lockdown, who were without facemasks, alleged government neglect in ensuring their welfare and safety.

A female police officer, who craved anonymity, said she was posted to Gwarimpa but no allowance was paid to them during the lockdown, adding that no face masks were provided for them.

“We were not given even sanitiser, this one you are seeing was given to me by one Samaritan who just saw the need for me to protect myself,” she said.

An official of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said though the corps was sharing face masks, it had not been made available to his command in Gwarimpa.

“Is it not sheer wickedness that we will stay on the road from morning till night, get home with body pains and nothing will be given to us? We expose ourselves to this risk and there is nothing to show for it,” he said.

 

‘We compromise to survive in Lagos’

In Lagos, some police sources said apparent neglect by the relevant authorities forced them to resort to extortion or begging motorists to give them money, sanitisers or face masks.

“In order to meet up with our personal needs, most policemen resort to extortion of money from violators since no provision for food was made. We heard of the payment of allowances of policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS),” a police officer attached to Ajegunle Police Station, said.

Another policeman at Orile Division alleged that no extortion of money from people could be possible without the support of superiors.

“Despite the fact that we risked our lives while performing the enforcement order, nothing was given to us in terms of remuneration; in fact, each team was given target of how much to remit to the office in the evening. Failure of which you will be asked to remain at the gate of the divisional headquarters as punishment,” he said.

A policeman attached to Alausa Police Station told our correspondent in confidence that aside food, which was given them by some spirited individuals, neither the Divisional Police Officer nor the command headquarters said anything about payment of allowance.

“We understand the nature of our job, but government should also include policemen on the list of workers to benefit from allowances being paid to those in the health sector,” he said.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana could not comment on the matter as calls to his telephone line were not responded to.

 

We are left ‘naked’ in Zamfara

Police personnel enforcing lockdown in Zamfara State said they have not been given protective gears nor paid any duty allowances.

Some of the police officers who spoke with our correspondent said they were surprised despite being at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, not even facemasks were distributed to them.

“We are being stationed at strategic places including boundaries with other states. This is exposing us to the risk of contracting the disease because we are dealing with people coming in or out of the state.

“The truth of the matter is that we are not being paid any allowance and we were not sure whether such allowances will be paid. So we are being very careful in handling the situation,” a police officer, who craved for anonymity, said.

 

‘We manhandle people in Rivers due to frustration’

Rivers residents have had their fair share of police brutality over the lockdown enforcement in the state.

A health worker in Port Harcourt was brutalised by the police enforcing the lockdown order at the popular Ikokwu spare parts market in Port Harcourt.

Some of the police officers who spoke with our reporter attributed the hostility meted out to the people by the police to “frustration.”

A police officer involved in the lockdown enforcement said that many of them deployed for special assignments were not motivated to carry out their assignment.

The police officer who wouldn’t want his name in print said: “The enforcement assignment is a hazardous one that requires special allowance but there is nothing like that. Whenever we were asked to move to a certain area that was the end. There is no hazard allowance, no PPE to protect us against the virus. As you can see nobody is wearing face masks, no hand gloves and we are here day- in- day- out to carry out the enforcement.

“That is why our men are very hostile and many of them use the opportunity to extort money from people. If you deploy somebody on a special assignment and you did not motivate the person such person can do anything to survive,” he said.

 

Senior officials hijacked donated face masks in Abia

Some officers enforcing the lockdown in Abia State at different locations in Umuahia and Aba are going without face masks or other gears.

Some of the enforcement officers said they maintain some distance from motorists while enforcing the lockdown to avoid any possible contact with affected persons.

A police constable said before the transfer of the last police commissioner from the command, some individuals and non-governmental organisations donated face masks to the command but it appears that the senior officers hijacked them.

“During enforcement, we are left without food and water; we are hardly appreciated by the people, yet some Abians will even use words on you as if it is the police who asked them to stay at home,” he said.

 

‘We’re not taken care of in Osun’

In Osun State, security operatives enforcing the lockdown complained that they were not well catered for.

In some checkpoints in the state, the policemen and other security operatives said they were suffering and that the state and federal governments didn’t make necessary provision for them.

In Osogbo, some policemen who spoke with Daily Trust on condition of anonymity said a businessman, Chief Tunde Badmus, who is the Chairman of TUNS Farms, was the one feeding them.

The policeman lamented that PPE were not provided for them despite.

 

We’re at the risk – Benue police

In Benue State, some security operatives said they were at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their exposure to all manner of people at their duty posts.

A Police sergeant told our correspondent in Makurdi that no protective items such as face masks or hand sanitisers were provided for them neither was extra allowances made available to them while enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown.

Other security personnel of Department of State Services (DSS) explained that they were more at risk of contracting the disease because they were not equipped with necessary protective measures.

 

Police faring better in Edo

There is no much brutality by the police in Edo State, but some operatives said the reason was that they are faring better when compared with their colleagues in other states. But there have been allegations of extortion by security agents during the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the state government.

An officer, who spoke to our reporter in confidence, said the Police Commissioner, Lawan Jimeta had read the riot act after a special training on how to go about enforcing the lockdown directive.

He said though they were being catered for in the course of carrying out their duties, there were still some logistics problems that should be resolved.

 

Influential people taking advantage in Borno, Gombe

A source in Maiduguri, Borno State complained about unscrupulous citizens who always used their connections to get things done their ways.

Some officers said they have to compromise in order to address many challenges they are facing in the course of enforcing the lockdown.

In Gombe, some police operatives said they also have to compromise because they were not given protective gears, not being paid special duty allowances and that they have to use the little they get elsewhere to fuel their patrol vehicles.

 

We did not envisage COVID-19 pandemic- Police hq

Contacted to comment on some of the challenges being faced by their operatives while enforcing the lockdown, Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said the Nigerian Police did not envisage the pandemic coming hence no provision was made for PPEs.

He said everyone was struggling alongside governments to cope in the midst of the pandemic.

“If you notice, there are improvements on the road by the police officers. It shows that someone somewhere is working hard to ensure that the police officers were being taken care of,” he said.

“Nobody should expect that we should provide over 400 thousand face masks at the same time. The police is not an establishment of 20 thousand people. It has over 400 thousand officers and everyone deserves to get their various PPEs and anything due to them,” he said.

Mba said efforts were being made to ensure they were comfortable doing their jobs and it was already trickling down to them gradually hence, with time, they will get all they need to function well.

He promised that the force was passionate about the welfare of the officers and with time there will be improvements and “Nigerians will see better police officers on the road on the coming weeks.”

A security expert, Mic Tairu said there was the need to give special attention to security operatives. “They are also human and deserve support and care. Some of the excesses you are seeing by the police and others is out of frustration,” he said.

The post Lockdown enforcement: Security operatives lack protective gears, exposed to coronavirus appeared first on Daily Trust.



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