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Uncooperative officers blocking Met reform, says ex-superintendent


Uncooperative officers blocking Met reform, says ex-superintendent

The Metropolitan police shelved plans to reform its unit dedicated to protecting politicians and diplomats because of “resistant and uncooperative” officers, according to a former superintendent who was the force’s most senior woman of colour.

Nusrit Mehtab, who resigned in January last year, said the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command (PADP), where Sarah Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, once served, was “very male-dominated” and ripe for reform. The Met had had a chance to “put things right and they didn’t”, she added.

Mehtab is suing the Met alleging that a hostile and racist work environment forced her to leave. She claims the force harbours a culture that “enables and endorses people like [Wayne] Couzens to flourish”.

On Friday the Met announced that Louise Casey would lead a wholesale review of the Met in an effort to rebuild public trust, which will include a specific “in-depth, searching and rigorous review focused on PADP”.

Mehtab, who in a 30-year career at Scotland Yard worked in units including counter-terrorism, said her attempts at changing the PADP had been stymied.

“Only a few years ago I was going to be involved in bringing change to that command, but the officers were so resistant and so uncooperative that that reform couldn’t go ahead at that time,” she said. “The commissioner hasn’t had the appetite for cultural change and that’s why we’re here.”

According to a “senior Home Office source” quoted in the Sunday Times, the home secretary, Priti Patel, has grown frustrated with the Met’s “culture of defensiveness” since Everard’s murder.

Mehtab said much of the criticism of the Met this year described the “very things that I’ve been saying and the Black and Asian communities have been saying for decades, but we weren’t believed and we were vilified”.

She said the commissioner, Cressida Dick, had “created a culture of institutional denial” and should go. Mehtab also said the separate public inquiry announced by Patel last Tuesday should look at specialist units including the PADP.

“Some of the officers on these units have been on there for decades. And then [senior management] will say ‘you know what, they’re so specialised that we need to keep them there’. So they’ve become very entrenched in their ways and actually they move around that unit and they get promoted in-house. So there isn’t that scope to bring in new thinking.”

A security review of the PADP took place after the Westminster terror attack in 2017 when five people were killed, including PC Keith Palmer. A coroner ruled that the officer’s death could have been prevented were it not for “shortcomings in the security system”.

Mehtab said the internal Met review and the inquiry should scrutinise the “invisible canteen culture” of WhatsApp groups such as the one including Couzens that allegedly shared misogynistic and racist messages. She also said social media accounts, such as the network of Facebook and Twitter accounts held by anonymous retired or serving officers, should be looked at.

Citing the Macpherson report published in 1999, which identified a canteen culture that contributed towards the Met’s institutional racism, Mehtab said “racism and sexism has never gone away”.

“That culture has not been eliminated, it’s just been eroded, and it’s developed into a different form. It’s not the physical canteen any more, but an online one. It’s horrendous what they get away with, including abusing members of the public,” she said.

“Recruits are warned about WhatsApp messages when they first join and given a talk on professional standards.” However, she said she was not surprised to learn that Couzens was in a WhatsApp group with other officers who allegedly shared inappropriate material, referencing the Met police officers who allegedly took photos of the dead bodies of Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, and shared them on a private WhatsApp group.

An officer removed from duty guarding search cordons during Everard’s murder investigation is alleged to have sent an offensive graphic to colleagues on a WhatsApp group.

“There’s a culture that enables and endorses these people. It is a minority of officers, for sure, but they are protected by the majority because the Met creates an environment where they are enabled and endorsed and people like Couzens can flourish,” Mehtab said.

Since details emerged of how Couzens used his warrant card and police-issued handcuffs to get Everard into a car before raping and killing her, some anonymous social media accounts purporting to be serving police officers have defended the force’s reputation against what they feel is a media onslaught. Mehtab said these accounts had left some of her female former colleagues “horrified”.

“Don’t forget, they’re women who have to work with these men. The processes and systems in place to report misogynistic behaviour are not fit for purpose – they work on paper, but in reality female officers are not believed or supported.”

A spokesperson for the Met said the force had “done more than almost any other organisation to ensure that racism isn’t tolerated”. They said it was not the same force as it was 20–25 years ago, although “like all big organisations we know we can’t be complacent”.

A Met statement said: “The commissioner recognises that the murder of Sarah Everard has severely damaged public confidence … and that trust will be further diminished by the news of another officer charged with rape.”

It said policing was “complex and challenging”, and added: “Where we get it wrong we welcome scrutiny and where there are complaints we take these incredibly seriously and expect to be held to account for our actions, including through independent investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. We have a clear set of values for staff and the code of ethics reinforces the standards of behaviour expected.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.


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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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NNPC Disburses N15bn For Lagos-Badagry Expressway Reconstruction

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) has disbursed N15 billion for the reconstruction of the Lagos Badagry Expressway under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme.

The N15 billion represents a 100 percent payment of the funding of the Lagos-Badagry road rehabilitation under the tax credit funding of the NNPC Ltd.

The NNPC Group Chief Executive, Mr Mele Kyari, made this known on Thursday when he led NNPC’s management team with some top government officials to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border).

The road under rehabilitation is being funded by the NNPC Ltd. under the Federal Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.

The execution of the scheme is being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as the supervisor and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for NNPC’s tax obligations deductions.

This is in response to address the plight faced by petroleum products marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distribution.

Kyari said the fund disbursed was part of the N621.24 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of 21 roads nationwide under the scheme.

He expressed satisfaction over the stage of the road development.

“We are covering 1,804.6mkm across the country and taking another set of over a trillion naira investment on infrastructure in Nigeria, believing that with the tax credit system which Mr President has put in place, very soon there will be massive change.

“NNPC as the enabler will consider from its cash flow and fund whatever FIRS and Ministry of works approve for the company.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Director, Highways, Roads and Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Mr Folorunsho Esan, said the intervention of the NNPC sped up the reconstruction of the expressway.

Esan said that the project was 40 per cent completed.

“In the next 12 months we should be able to deliver this project because the drainages are in place, just for earth works and pavement works, it cannot take us more than 12 months,” he said.

Speaking on the gridlock being caused by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, he said the contractor would clear all impediments and move out of site by December 15 to make the highway free for Yuletide.

Earlier, Mrs Olukorede Keisha, Federal Ministry of Works Engineer supervising the Lagos-Badagry Expressway project, gave a brief of the project, listing the drains, culverts and other construction works done on various stretches.

Oba Israel Okoya, Oba of Ibereko in Badagry Royal Majesty, who lauded the Federal Government and NNPC for the intervention, said before the reconstruction, the road was in a terrible situation making traffic unbearable for motorists.

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