By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
No fewer than 240 officers of the Nigeria Police Force that participated in peace keeping operations in Guinea Bissau between 2013 and 2015, weekend, alleged diversion of funds meant for their allowances by unknown officials of the government and Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
The officers, who lamented their plight to Vanguard, said they were still being owned 21 months unpaid operational allowances and deprived of their luggages which contained most of their vital personal documents and valuables.
Many of the officers, according to them, have died after developing different ailments as a result of their plight.
Some of the officers who spoke with Vanguard on strict condition of anonymity for fear of official repercussion, stated: “Justice and peace support of ECOWAS is doomed and fraudulent, if the only hope of peace and stability in West Africa in these days of democracy, ECOWAS can collaborate with Nigerian government to divert the money meant for payment of Nigeria police officers who participated in the exercise. ‘’ECOWAS is known for trustworthiness, transparency and justice standard for a few members of this honourable body to descend so low as to conspire with some unknown authorities in Nigeria to divert operation allowances of Nigeria Police peacekeepers contingent III and IV and deny them of their entitlements without the fear and respect to the incorruptible incumbent President of Nigeria and National Assembly members.”
However, in a swift reaction, Force Public Relations Officer, Dom Anwunah, told Vanguard: “When we go for such operations, we are paid by international organisations such as ECOWAS, African Union or United Nations; it is not police that pay them.
‘’So, ECOWAS and Nigerian government cannot connive to deprive anybody of his allowances. Many other countries involved in the same exercise are still being owed and they have gone to ECOWAS.”
Mr. Ibrahim Idris
“It is on record and verifiable that the officers who participated in the operation in Guinea Bissua between December 2013 and December 2015 are still being owned 21 months’ unpaid operational allowances and deprived of their luggages which contain most of their academic credentials, official uniforms and other valuables.
‘’Contingent III completed their one year mission which ran between July 2013 and July 2014 and contingent IV completed their 18 months mission which ran between July 2014 and December 2015, at Safim Camp, Guinea Bissua.
‘’Contingent III is the unit that conducted a peaceful and credible election for the country and are still being owned six months unpaid operational allowances till date, while contingent IV is the unit that restored peace to the troubled regions of Guinea Bissau and protected their democratic government .
“It is important to note that some members of the unit, such as Corporal Ganiyu Kolawole, developed high blood pressure which led to his untimely death immediately after their return to Nigeria and one Sergeant Tehiba Egba, suffers partial stroke till date without any medical attention.
‘’Many lost their loved ones in Nigeria while on the mission as a result of the hazard of the work schedule and poor accommodation given to them, yet their allowances are still not paid till date.”
However, in a swift reaction, Force Public Relations Officer, Dom Anwunah, told Vanguard: “When we go for such operations, we are paid by international organisations such as ECOWAS, African Union or United Nations, it is not the police that pay them.
‘’So, ECOWAS and Nigerian government cannot connive to deprive anybody of his allowances. Many other countries involved in the same exercise are still being owed and they have gone to ECOWAS.
‘’I am also aware that some have been paid in Lagos. However, the rule is that you are responsible for your luggages if you carry excess. They have rules on the number of luggages allowed per contingent.
‘’If you carry more than that, you pay for it. If you go there and buy second hand clothings, yam and tomatoes, that is your problem, it is not Nigeria’s problem.”