It was mixed feelings penultimate Thursday for families of the six police officers killed in different parts of Lagos State during EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums, as they received a cheque of N10million each from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
It was an emotion-laden moment for the widows of the slain police officers, all of whom could not hold back the tears as they received cheques from the governor.
Some guests, especially women who were also overtaken by emotions, wept uncontrollably as they watched families of the late police officers mount the stage one after another to receive the modest compensation from Lagos State Government, after the gruesome killing of their bread winners.
It was a difficult task to get an almost inconsolable Anato Edward, widow of the late Yaro Edward, an Assistant Inspector of Police who was killed while on his legitimate duty, to speak on behalf of the families.
To Sanwo-Olu, Anato merely found courage to say: “Thank you for what you have done for us. I am very grateful.”
The compensation, without any iota of doubt, brought back bitter experience as widows of the slain police officers and the children were in sober mood throughout the entire programme. After receiving the compensation, the widows and their children could not control their emotions when Sanwo-Olu further announced scholarship for all the children of the deceased officers.
The scholarship offer would cover each of the children from their current academic stage to the university level.
Tears of joy and perhaps of sorrow rented the air.
The governor and some other eminent personalities had the onerous task of calming the women down.
The presentation of the N10million cheque to each of the families and scholarship to children of the late police officers during the 14th Annual Town Hall Meeting on Security, organised by Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), was in fulfillment of Sanwo-Olu’s promise to the Lagos Police Command during his visit to the police personnel after the EndSARS protests.
The slain police officers whose families received a cheque of N10million each are Yaro Edward, Assistant Inspector of Police (ASP), Inspector Ayodeji Erinfolami, Sergeant Bejide Abiodun, Inspector Adegbemiro Aderibigbe, Inspector Samson Ehiboh and Inspector Igoche Cornelius.
During Sanwo-Olu’s visit to the police command on Thursday, October 28, he had promised that Lagos State Government would not abandon the police for their role in protecting lives and property in a move geared at boosting the morale of officers after the EndSARS protests.
The governor said his administration would take care of the family members of the officers killed in the violence that trailed the protests.
As part of the measures put in place to heal the wounds of the police officers’ families, he also directed Lagos State Scholarship Board to immediately award scholarship to the children of the slain officers, up to the university level.
Sanwo-Olu also promised that police officers serving in Lagos would get life insurance from the state government, with a directive to the Executive Secretary of LSSTF, Dr. Rasaq Balogun, to establish the modality with the police leadership.
During the visit, the governor also approved the request to upgrade Police Cottage Hospital in Ikeja, directing the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, to inspect the facility for the required upgrade.
In addition to donating two 150KVA generating sets to the police, Sanwo-Olu said the Command Headquarters would be connected to the state’s Independent Power Project (IPP) for constant power supply.
He also promised to provide two office buildings for the personnel.
“As your governor, I have come here to take full responsibility for the loss you have suffered in terms of logistics. Through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), we will be replacing the police operational vehicles burnt in the violence”, he said.
‘We have bigger plan for all the police stations burnt down. We will look for the funds and build befitting stations that will set the standard of what police stations should be”.
Speaking during the town hall meeting on security, Sanwo-Olu commended the brave and gallant officers of security agencies, especially police officers who paid the supreme price and those who were wounded during the EndSARS protests in the cause of duties, for their dedication to duty and commitment to the eradication of crime in Lagos.
According to him, the officers exhibited uncommon boldness and courage in the performance of their duties, noting that Lagos State will continue to appreciate their sacrifices and will be eternally grateful for all they did.
Sanwo-Olu, who described the late police officers as heroes, said they sacrificed their lives to secure lives and properties in Lagos State. He said the compensation was government’s modest reward for their gallantry, noting that the gestures from the State Government would help the families to heal from the loss.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also assured that safety and security would never be compromised in the state, saying nothing will deter his administration from protecting the lives and property of the residents now and in the future.
He said: “As the Chief Security Officer of Lagos State, my solemn promise to all law-abiding citizens is that the state will always be safe for them.
“We will stop at nothing to flush out all criminal elements whose sole aim is to foment chaos and perpetrate crime. Let me sound this note of warning; there is no hiding place for criminals and bandits in Lagos State.
“At the 2021 Budget presentation on November 10, I stated that the Lagos State Government will commit N9.16 billion to social protection, in order to critically address other contributors to crime like substance abuse, youth unemployment and poor education. We believe that it is easier to prevent crime than control it.
“Consequently, in order to guarantee sustained peace and security, we will embrace a deliberate and determined approach toward crime prevention and the preservation of law and order. Nothing will deter us from protecting the lives and property of Lagosians now and in the future. Safety and security will never be compromised in our state.”
Sanwo-Olu also urged Lagosians to join in upholding the security of the state, as security agencies and government could not do it alone.
The governor stated that even as the government takes bold actions to secure the state, it is the duty of all Lagosians to ensure that they do nothing to jeopardise the peace, safety, stability and security of the state.
He also urged Lagosians to remain vigilant and report suspected attempts to disrupt law and order to the appropriate authorities.
Responding to the good gestures of Sanwo-Olu, the widows and children of the slain police officers commended the governor for the N10million donation and the scholarship award.
According to them, the compensation would help in wiping off their tears and brighten their hope that their children can achieve a great future as envisioned for them by their late fathers.
Mrs. Olamide Erinfolami, the widow of ASP Ayodeji Erinfolami, praised Sanwo-Olu for the gesture and also urged the governor to fulfill his promise for continuity of the education of the deceased persons’ children.
“When I heard the information about my husband’s death, I didn’t feel good”, Mrs Erinfolami said.
“I was very sad. It was somebody from Maiduguri that called me to inform me; the police didn’t inform me officially about my husband’s death.
“Somebody from Maiduguri called me that my husband was shot. I wasn’t myself when I heard the news and I felt so sad.
“I am from Ekiti State; I don’t live in Lagos. I want to say thank you to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I want him to also fulfill what he promised that he is going to do for our children”.
Mrs. Funmilayo Aderibigbe, the senior wife of the late Inspector Adegbemiro Aderibigbe, who could not hold her tears, while speaking to journalists after receiving the N10million cheque, also hailed the governor’s gesture.
Ayotomiwa, one of the three children of late ASP Ayodeji Erinfolami also appreciated Sanwo-Olu for giving him and his siblings scholarship to continue their education after the demise of their father. “Thank you Mr Governor,” he said.
Speaking at the town hall meeting on security with the governor, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, LSSTF, Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, said the new Board of the body had resolved to sustain the previous achievements made by the Board and to significantly improve the security architecture in Lagos by seeking to attract the required resources and by providing a strong leadership and vision for safety and security.
He, therefore, urged individuals and organisations to contribute to the Security Trust Fund for security of lives and properties in Lagos.
Also speaking, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the Command, in the last one year, arrested hundreds of criminals for various offences such as cultism, murder, armed robbery, drug peddling, raping, impersonation, vandalism, defilement and gender related issues, and recovered many of weapons, psychotropic substances and stolen properties.
Odumosu, while stressing the need for crime-free society, implored all Lagosians to continue to continue to be law abiding and particularly obey all traffic rules and regulations including traffic lights.
The police boss commended Sanwo-Olu’s administration’s contribution to security, saying, “The Command is privileged to have a governor, who has an unmatched passion to create an enabling environment for the Police and other agencies to fight crimes and criminalities head-on in the state.
“He has not only provided the necessary logistics for officers and men to discharge their responsibilities effectively, he has also continued to make available a steady stream of financial support, to boost their morale for optimum service delivery.”
Vanguard News Nigeria