•My father was sick but because of commitment to job he still went to work, he never returned —Teenager
• Daddy went to buy me popcorn- 4yr old
• IGP consoles them
By Evelyn Usman
The pain and anguish of losing a loved one can better be explained by those grieving. The expressions on the faces of families of policemen who were killed by hoodlums who hijacked the recent EndSARS protests, told it all, as they sat patiently, awaiting the arrival of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, Tuesday, at the Lagos State Police Command, headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos.
IGP Adamu, was in the state to assess the level of damage on police formations and other public and private properties that were destroyed by hoodlums during the attack, as well as to boost the morale of his men.
Some of these family members were widows, children and siblings of the deceased policemen. One of the widows was remarkable. She stared at other policemen who were seated in rows, also awaiting the arrival of Adamu, the police chief.
She appeared to be imagining many things and possibly wondering what had struck her. At a point, she dropped her gaze on the floor, stroking her hair, obviously lost in thought.
My father went to work sick
The bereaved families were under strict instruction not to speak with anyone who was not in police uniform. But in a chat with some of them, they spoke of their last encounters with the deceased cops.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of them revealed that his father could have had premonition of his death but resisted the temptation or the message to stay at home because of the love he had for the job.
Recounting his last moment with his father, the teenager said “ he was a Sergeant and he loved his job. He woke up at about 4am, on Thursday, October 22, 2020 shivering.
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He said he had a fever. He could not eat, even when my mother tried to force him to eat, he could not. My mother told him to call his team leader and inform him that he was sick. But he said he would manage to go to work.
“By 6.30 am, he left the house. That was after he called a colleague to stand in for him but the colleague refused. He assured me he would report to work, stay for a while and leave for the hospital.
“But he never returned home. When we heard that they were attacking his division, I called my mother who rushed home.
“The next thing we heard was that he died in the attack”, he said, as he quickly dabbed the tears off his face to avoid
creating a scene.
‘Daddy went to buy popcorn’
Another child of one of the deceased cops was apparently oblivious of her father’s demise, as she was heard telling one of her playmates that her father said he was going to buy her popcorn.
Information at Crime Guard disposal revealed that she usually cried whenever her father was going to work, insisting she would follow him.
On that fateful day, October 23, 2020, she reportedly went for her slippers when she saw her father preparing to leave for work.
And like every other day, he promised he was going to buy her popcorn, an explanation that got her out of the way, to allow her father passage, unknown to both father and daughter that it was the last time such conversation would hold, the last time they would see themselves. He, too never returned to keep his popcorn promise.
There were mixed feelings among the bereaved families after the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, in his welcome remark, reiterated Governor Sanwo-Olu’s promise to take full responsibilities which included: footing the bills of the police personnel who sustained varying degrees of injuries during the crisis; payment of compensation to families of the deceased policemen, taking up the burial expenses of the policemen and placing children of police personnel who lost their lives during the crisis, on scholarship till graduation from the university.
While some were elated about the news, others, expressed fear on the possibility of subsequent governments in the state failing to continue such gestures.
The visiting IGP who blamed the attack on the escalation of fake news, commiserated with the bereaved, assuring that the Nigeria Police would not abandon them.
Before then he had visited the wounded policemen at the Police medical centre, Falomo, where he wished them quick recovery.
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To boost the morale of policemen who were yet to shake off the effect of the attack on their colleagues and other police formations, the Police Chief appreciated them for still carrying on with their constitutional responsibilities.
He was however quick to address the mindset of personnel who thought Nigerians hated them.
He said: “I am happy to note that not everybody in this country agreed with the violent protesters and not everybody in this country agreed that police is bad. Everybody knows that in every organization and institution, you have some few persons that are bad. Just as we have few in the police that are bad, the majority of Nigeria Police officers are good.
Remember what Mr President said in support of the police? He said the vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and property of Nigerians and that he will continue to support them to do their jobs” At this point, the police personnel who were initially grumbling applauded.
Continuing, the IGP, said: “So, the Nigeria Police has the support of the highest authority in this country. So, it is not that everybody dislikes the police.
“There are those that are finding it difficult to say it openly but they call to say they are behind us and that we are doing good jobs”.