Policemen deployed in the enforcement of the ban on interstate movements and other COVID-19-related assignments have cried out over non-provision of a special allowance and face masks for them.
The policemen, who spoke to newsmen on Sunday on condition of anonymity because of the nature of their job, said since their deployment in state boundaries and intrastate patrol duties, no mention had been made of a special allowance despite the fact that they were at the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in his first broadcast on COVID-19 pandemic on March 29, ordered a lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.
Although the enforcement of the lockdown is being carried out by all security agencies, the police, who are mainly responsible for the internal security of the country, have been deployed in all parts of the country to ensure compliance with the presidential order.
But some policemen have fallen victim of the deadly virus. For example, a deputy commissioner of police attached to the Zone 5 headquarters in Benin, Francis Bissong, died of COVID-19 on April 21.
On May 10, the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Olusegun Orisajo, said a policeman died of COVID-19 complications at the FMC.
In Edo State, police officers, who were manning the state boundaries, told newsmen that they had yet to get a special allowance despite the fact that they could easily be infected with the virus because they mingled with people when enforcing government’s order.
Some of them stated that they bought face masks to protect themselves from being infected with COVID-19.
A top police officer in the state, stated, “Actually, we don’t have any form of protection. Doctors on duty have their own protection, but not our men. We have some face masks and hand gloves we made ourselves and others donated by one organisation. That’s all. But for the general insurance, there is no insurance or a special pay package like the one provided by the ministry of health for health personnel.
“We have our men who send those coming into the state back. Some of the people our men mingle with are already infected with COVID-19.”
In the Federal Capital Territory, it was gathered that face masks had not been provided for police personnel enforcing the interstate travel ban and the curfew in the FCT, despite the risks and exposure they faced daily in the course of interacting with members of the public.
It was also learnt that the men had not been paid any allowance for COVID-19 lockdown and curfew enforcement duties.
It was gathered that only a few senior officers were given face masks while the rank and file bought theirs.
On Sunday, it was observed that the majority of the policemen did not wear masks even as they enforced the directives on use of face masks in public by residents.