By Frank Oshanugor
Arising from the elaborate activities associated with burial of late Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Kazeem Abonde last week, some of his colleagues serving at the Lagos State Command of the Nigeria Police Force have called on the authorities to celebrate police personnel while they are still alive and serving and not only at death.
Abonde who at the time of his death in September was an Operations officer at the Lagos State Police Command before he was gruesomely murdered by hoodlums during an operation intended to checkmate criminal elements and disobedient commercial motorcycle operators in Ajao Estate of Lagos.
A good number of his colleagues who spoke anonymously to our correspondent after his burial in Ibadan, Oyo State on Friday said it was highly regrettable that an officer who could not even be given official quarters while serving in Lagos could be given a “rich burial” that could not wipe out the hardship the officer went through while in service.
Some of the aggrieved officers authoritatively told our correspondent that the late Abonde as a serving Chief Superintendent of Police was still squatting in an apartment at the Police College, Ikeja quarters whereas by his rank, he ought to be appropriately quartered in a benefitting environment.
They added that many officers of similar rank are currently having accommodation issues even when the nature of their job ought to have been taken into consideration by the authorities. Due to accommodation challenge, Abonde’s nuclear family members have been living in Ibadan while he was squatting at Police College.
Some of the officers who spoke on the basis of anonymity said that while they appreciated the authorities for giving their departed colleague a befitting burial, much of such concern and honour should have been extended to him during his time in service.
They recalled that during the 2020 EndSARS protest when many of the officers were injured with their personal properties like cars, fridge, air-conditioners and so on were destroyed by the hoodlums who attacked their various stations, a good number of the affected officers are still licking their wounds. A good number of them are yet to be promoted, nor compensated for their properties in spite of petitions to the authorities.
They expressed dismay that the same authorities who have denied them their adequate compensation for losses suffered while in service will turn around tomorrow if death comes to spend “millions” for burial ceremonies that do not add any value.
Some of them were pained that their colleague; CSP Kazeem Abonde could not have died in a careless manner he was killed if the authorities had provided the necessary anti-riot kits like helmet, tear gas cannisters and so on. They alleged that no tear cannisters were provided for the operation and the hoodlums cashed in, on such weakness to make daring advances towards Abonde and his team.
The late CSP’s men obviously sensing greater danger in the absence of tear gas cannisters to disperse the surging crowd of the attackers and the order not to shot, decided to take to their heels. The officers contended that the armed policemen who ran away in the face; of imminent danger chose to abandon their team leader (Abonde) in other not to be accused of shooting the attackers without a lawful order from their Commander.
Abonde on his side too, was probably trying to avoid a situation where the hoodlums would be shot to death by his men if he had given them order and subsequently be accused and charged with extra judicial killing.
The scenario, according to some of the police officers put their late colleague in a serious dilemma which any other officer could similarly fall into.
The aggrieved officers have therefore challenged the police authorities at all levels to review their operational strategy, taking into consideration, situations like the one Abonde found himself, in which also he sadly lost his life.