By Yemi Adeleye
Some members of the Nigerian Legion, Lagos State Chapter, on Friday staged a peaceful protest to the State House of Assembly over alleged non-payment of their five months’ salaries.
The protesters, who chanted several songs, displayed placards with such inscriptions as: “Nigerian Legion has been working since January till this moment, No payment’’, “We have responsibilities to cater for, pay us now’’, “Pay the Legionaires now’’, “We have worked diligently and endlessly without payment of salary, January till May’’ among others.
One of the provosts and spokesman of the group, Mr Akinwunmi Babatunde, said that his members had been working for about five months without being paid.
Babatunde, a lieutenant in the Nigerian Legion, said that the members had been kept in the dark by the Ministry of Special Duties that is in charge of their salaries.
He also said that the corps leadership had not been forthcoming on the causes of the delay.
“We worked in the first month and the second month in the New Year but we received no salary.
“We, as provosts, made a move to the Ministry of Special Duties that used to pay us to know why. We were told to wait.
“We have been waiting since then and no salary to the point that our officers are now complaining and grumbling over lack of money to take care of their personal and family needs,’’ he said.
Babatunde said that the provosts had been dousing the complaints and grumbles as well as urging their members to continue their duties according to the law.
“We calmed them down and told them not to misbehave and that they needed to still hold on. We assure them that the money will be paid while we went back to the ministry.
“These corps members are crying and since we are in the dark, we consider it necessary to cry out to the Office of the Governor so that they can look into why we are not getting our salaries?
“The problem is that we do not know where our money is, is it in the Ministry of Special Duties, our bosses or in the governor’s office?’’ he said.
Babatunde, who noted that some members of the corps including him were suffering, added that he could not raise money to bury his late mother in April.
He pleaded with Gov. Akinwumi Ambode to look into their plights and investigate what was responsible for the delay in the payment of their salaries.
“Gov. Ambode is a father and a trusted leader. We believe in him. We are fathers and mothers in our houses and we cannot meet up with our responsibilities anymore,’’ the spokesman said.
He, however, noted that the corps members who were engaged in 2017 had been receiving their salaries until January 2019.
Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Oreola, another provost, told NAN that the corps members were working in the various ministries and that the non-payment of their salaries could affect the services they were rendering.
Addressing the group, Mr Kolawole Hundeyin, the Director (Political), Office of the Civic Engagements, urged the aggrieved protesters to be peaceful and calm, stressing that the issue would be resolved.