• ‘Our Spouses Have Overstayed On Battlefield’
• ‘My Rent Has Expired, Utility Bills Keep Pilling,
No Means Of Payment’
• Police Intervention Hampered By COVID-19,
When 26-year-old Mercy (surname withheld) got married to the love of her life, Abass, a Police Sergeant, she was abreast of the nature of his job, but she never imagined that they would spend so much time apart, especially with her husband has not seen their now five months old baby.
Mercy and other like-affected wives of officers of the Police Mobile Force (PMF), otherwise called Mopol, who plan to protest the continuous stay of their husbands at Damboa, Borno State, are sad that their husbands have been kept on the battlefield for too long.
They also lament the non-payment of their husbands’ allowances, rejecting the move by Police authority to bring the families to join their husbands in the zone instead of allowing them to come back on the rotation of duty.
“I got married last year and when I was eight months pregnant, my husband left for special duty in Damboa, Borno State. I had my baby through operation (Cesarean Section) and spent two months in the hospital due to complications. I cannot begin to explain how I cannot get involved with certain activities, because my husband is not here.
“Sometimes, I sit down and just cry, tending to a child alone without the presence of the father, all because he is on special duty. We were told he would spend three months, which has turned to four months and now, no plans of coming home soon.
“My husband’s salary, which I usually receive, is always shared between us, as they don’t get any allowances. On two occasions, he was ill and I had to send him money to get medication.
“I really need my husband back. My house rent will soon expire, how do I pay? I cannot ask him to send me money, because he doesn’t have any to send to me.
“Bad enough, the telecommunication network situation is terrible. Sometimes, I want to talk to him about an issue, but cannot reach him or the conversation ends suddenly due to failed network. I am just tired,” says Mercy in a gloomy tone.
For Mrs. Ege (surname withheld), who has been married for the past 11 years, news about plans to set up a permanent squadron camp for her husband and his counterparts in Damboa is heartbreaking.
“After my husband left for Damboa on December 9, last year, we prayed and looked forward to receiving him back home four months later. It has been seven months now and no hope of his coming home.
“My house rent expired in December last year and I have not been able to renew it. The electricity distribution company will be coming soon to disconnect us. The only money we receive as his salary, I use to feed my five children.
“There is no job in the country. As a graduate, I have tried to get a job and since I couldn’t, I am learning how to sew clothes. I cannot be waiting on my husband who cannot afford to feed himself where he is.
“Government should have mercy on us and bring back our husbands. It is unfair that they want to set up permanent camps for them over there,” she lamented.
However, 10-year-old Praise (surname withheld) chipped in: “Please, tell them to bring back my daddy, I miss him so much.”
Mrs. Godwin (surname withheld), having spent only six months with her husband before he departed for Maiduguri and has not been able to see their two-month-old son, is also in trauma.
She recounted: “I was three months pregnant when my husband left for Borno State. Since then, life has not been easy. He helped me through my first trimester of pregnancy by washing, cleaning and cooking for me, but I have had to manage with all that after he left.
“I left the barracks for my in-law’s place when I was about seven months pregnant and it became obvious that he was not coming back any soon and no one to care for me in the barracks, as everybody minds their business. I have been living with my in-laws, who have been taking care of me and my son.”
She noted that on the day she was delivered of her baby, she couldn’t reach her husband on phone to share the good news, saying: “His number wasn’t connecting, even as my in-laws tried to reach out too, it was the same response. We became panicky until midnight when we were able to talk and he finally knew he had become a father.
“Since then, he has not seen his son. I am just too sad. I share pictures of his son on WhatsApp with him and every day, he will promise me that he will come home soon to carry his son.
“I just want the government to have mercy on us; I have been barely married to face this. We were told it would be for just four months and now it doesn’t seem like there is hope.
“I just want my husband back. I am sad; I just live now by the grace of God. Government should have mercy on us and bring back our husbands. Even though I hear from him, it is not the same as seeing him and being with me.”
Mrs. Helen (surname withheld), a mother of two, tearfully told The Guardian: “I have prayed and cried; I cry every day. Life has not been easy raising our children alone.
“Please, help us beg the government to release our husbands, I am ready to go wherever to plead. I have just had my baby when my husband left, my son is nine months now and he doesn’t know his father. I am sad.
“Before my husband left, he gave me some money to invest in my business, but due to childbearing, coupled with the lockdown, it hasn’t been easy focusing on the business, so, we feed on it. I know what I have suffered during this period.
“Every now and then, my three-year-old daughter keeps asking, ‘mummy, where is daddy?’ It breaks me and it is not like we have finances that keep us going. We don’t want the government to retain them there; they are married men with families.”
While describing her husband, Okojie (surname withheld) said: “When I read some comments on social media, I laugh, because people perceive policemen in certain ways. They are not all the same; I know the man I married, he is honest and does his job efficiently. My husband will never collect a dime from anyone to carry out his duty as a policeman.”
To Mrs. Chidinma (surname withheld): “Only God knows how I have been managing. My husband signed that I could take money with his cheque book for three months and that period has since elapsed because he thought he would be coming home after three months. His ATM card, which was another option for me, has also expired and I cannot request for another in his absence.
“Coping with three children has not been easy. I will only say that God has been faithful. Thank God for my extended families, who always assist me whenever I need assistance. I just don’t know how I have been coping; our house rent has expired and the landlord has already started reminding us.
“I really don’t understand this special duty my husband embarked on, because this is more than we planned.”
The Guardian has, however, gathered that a police team earlier sent from Abuja to resolve the issue, among pending complains, returned without success due to attendant Coronavirus-related restrictions.
But it was gathered that special duty could be extended even without the affected officers or families being informed and it is the prerogative of Police High Command to determine the duration of any special duty assignment, as it is considered part of the duties and responsibilities of the Police.
In January this year, troops of the 159 Battalion, Geidam Sector 2 in Yobe State protested they’re overstayed in the Northeast battlefront.
The troops, in a letter, addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, lamenting that their families have been made to endure deprivations due to their prolonged absence.