166 Officers of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Agency, (LNSA) have sought the intervention of the State House of Assembly from being relieved of their duties through retrenchment by the Agency.
Following a petition signed and sent to the Assembly by 20 of the aggrieved corps members, some of who are divisional commanders of the security outfit in the state, the Assembly mandated it’s Committee on Information, Strategy and Security headed by Hon. David Setonji, to meet with the petitioners, board and management of the agency on the matter.
At the meeting with the Committee today, the petitioners, led by the Lagos Island Division Commander, Mr. Bashiru Giwa-Bioku appealed to the Assembly to prevail on the Agency to stop the “retrenchment process slated to commence on April 2, 2021 and also regularise their appointments to permanent officers as against the current employment status of contract staff” in which they are placed.
The Chairman of the Board of the Lagos Neighbourhourhood Agency, Mr. Israel Ajao, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, told the committee that the Board was in complete agreement with the point of petition raised by the officers in question, insisting that the issue of contract staff had never been supported by the Board.
He pointed out that, “drawing from experience, LNSC is a law enforcement agency and not a civil service parastatal, therefore, there is a difference in the schedule of an average civil servant and the daily duties of these officers. They work day and night, in rain and sunshine to combat crimes and criminals sustaining injuries and being casualties in the process.”
“The Board in good conscience cannot subject these ladies and gentlemen of the Corps to civil service rules when they do not perform civil service duties. Whilst recruiting and absorbing these officers, we followed the rudiments of the laws in terms of eligibility which made no mention of qualifications and age.”
Highlighting sections from the law that established the Agency, Ajao stated that “when the issue of letter of appointment came up to those recruited and absorbed, the officers were appointed as contract staff as prescribed under the civil service rules due to their lack of record of service.
“As I debated at the Security Council, the propriety of the Civil Service Rules is not in question but some of the rules are counter-productive and cannot be applied in a law enforcement agency like LNSC. We would like the Committee to implore the Speaker, Rt.Hon. Mudashiru Obasa as the leader of this noble Assembly, to support our position that these people should be allowed to continue their service and their salaries should not be tampered with until we find a permanent and final solution to the crisis,” he maintained.
Mr. Bajulaiye Adegboyega, General Manager of the Agency, who implored the Committee to dispassionately look into the issue explained that, as the head of administration of the Agency he was obligated to apply the Public Service Rules to determine the appointment of the Officers as contract staffs, which according to him is renewable for 2 years.
“The issue now is where we stand after the expiration of the two years, which is why I mentioned that the Committee needs to look dispassionately into. The Chairman has enumerated those grounds that should be considered in their favour to enable them enjoy the benefit of elongation with the peculiar nature of their job. These officers are committed and passionate and they are the experienced hands that will mentor the new recruits coming in. That said, I am only obliged to follow the rules of Public Service but to every rule there is always an exception and it should be the exception that we should hinge on to enable them enjoy desirable remunerations,” he said.
Having heard from the Chairman of the Board, General Manager and representatives of the Officers facing the impending retrenchment; a member of the Committee, Hon. Ganiyu Okanlawon said that, “It is unfortunate that we have found ourselves in this pitiable situation, I wonder why people like these are used and dumped, having worked since 1996 with no promotion. We have enormous job on our hands to redress this untoward impending retrenchment such that these people do not labour in vain.”
“They are not pensionable and we cannot allow them to become social menace in the society. We need to review the Agency’s Law to redress this issue so that we can begin to do saner things,” he added.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. David Setonji, who was visibly not happy with the shabby treatment of the petitioners, commended the Board of the Agency for deploying wealth of experience and initiative to handle the petition in supporting the Officers in question. He requested the Board to forward the regulations and all other necessary documents that can assist the Committee’s effort in redressing the issue to the House of Assembly.
“We need to review this Law, however, lawmaking takes longer time and rigorous processes but we need to solve this problem now,” he lamented.
The Committee thereafter resolved that the retrenchment of the officers should be suspended until further notice. The chairman of the committee also directed that the Head of Service, top officials of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions should appear before the Committee on Thursday next week for further briefings on the issue.