The sorry state of police barracks all over the nation, especially Ikeja Police Barracks located around the Ikeja axis of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway should be a matter of concern to all Nigerians, considering that these are men and women who are supposed to help maintain law and order in the society.
The Ikeja Police Barracks building
Presently most of the buildings are in a decrepit state. The roofs of some of the buildings are weak and sagging, the windows and doors of most of the buildings have been damaged, some buildings have no roofs at all, while some of the residents use mats to cover their windows.
An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) who pleaded anonymity, said: “Since the buildings have fallen into disrepair, things have been difficult for me and my colleagues, as we have no hope that something would be done soon.
Here in the barracks, if we think we have security, it is a pure lie, because when you are sleeping in a place that has no windows and doors, automatically, our lives are not safe because we can’t sleep with our two eyes closed.
When we are talking about the shape of the Senior Officers’ Blocks which are called SPOs, what would you say about the buildings that house the rank and file? Most of the buildings are beyond renovation so the authorities have to pull them down and re-construct them one after the other.
Our own situation is still better but to talk of the rank and file, how much is their salary? If we (officers) are tired of staying in the barracks, we can afford to rent an apartment outside, but the rank and file cannot. How much do they earn that they would rent an ordinary room outside?”
In the barracks, our environment is very dirty, our soakaway and septic tanks are open, you can see faeces and urine all around. Also, the residential blocks in Highway Ikeja Police Barracks have gone beyond repair. To say the truth, this barracks is not a good place to live if you don’t want to dieearly.
You can imagine, most of the blocks are already collapsing. And we say we have a government. To be sincere, what is killing us in Nigeria is insecurity. Another thing is that the police are not permitted to speak with the press, because nobody would like to lose his or her job.”
Stinking soakaway pits
“You can imagine, in our barracks, we don’t have any gutters to channel water into the drainage system.”
Another officer who spoke to the reporters said: “Life is difficult for some officers like us in the barracks because we don’t have freedom of information. The day you open your mouth to speak to the press, you should be prepared to lose your job.
The only day you are allowed to speak to newsmen is when you have retired from the force. It would have been nice if the president can as well visit the whole barracks and do the necessary renovation. We that live inside the barracks are not finding it easy at all, because the Nigeria Police Force is removing housing allowance from my salary, yet we live in a very poor environment.
Cracked walls and stinking soakaway pits
We are not happy staying in the barracks, though it has its merits, especially as regards quick response to urgent assignments; and also, you can be posted to any division where you are to resume work by 7am. If you reside in Ikeja and you are to resume work in Obalende, you have to move to the barracks to enable you meet up with the time.
If not for these, what am I doing in the barracks? Most barracks are not good for human habitation. Look at the blocks, they are all gone. At any time, the whole building may collapse, because any time we may have heavy rainfall.
It is when the buildings collapse that we will complain. Now eye service has killed many of us, because you don’t know who is watching you until they report to the Commissioner of Police that you were the one that spoke with newsmen. That is why we have to watch what we say.”
Cracked walls and open soakaway pits
The wife of a police officer, who also refused to mention her name for obvious reasons, said, “There is no police officer’s wife who is not engaged in one trade or another, after our husbands go to work in the morning. We also do our business and sometimes we close very late.
When are we going to have time for ourselves and our children? Before now, if my husband closes, he would come to my shop and eat, but now the wife to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Umar Manko, has mandated that we should be closing as early as 7pm instead of 10pm.
Now, I cannot take care of my husband, sometimes when my husband returns, he sleeps hungry, which I don’t like. The housing issue is there, look at our buildings as they are collapsing and the Lagos State Police Command is not doing anything about it. Do we wait until the building collapses and we all die in the rubble?
That is when they would start thinking about renovating the buildings. I am using this medium to call on the police boss, Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar to please solve our problems here in the barracks.”
Broken sewage pipes in almost all the buildings
Another junior officer said, “The way the Nigeria Police Force is treating us in this barracks is bad, because most of these blocks are leaking. Any time it rains, we are in trouble.
During the last heavy rains, almost all my electronic gadgets were damaged by the rain, including my mattress. You can imagine what we are experiencing here, living under leaking roofs.
This has been one of my challenges, because each time rain falls, I must put buckets all around the rooms. The worst part is that though the police authorities see all these, they are not making any effort to remedy the situation.
They are endangering the lives of junior officers in the barracks. Our building is the worst.
In fact, I regret joining the Nigeria Police Force, because after serving them for 35 years, your retirement money will not be paid on time.
Moreover, if one eventually dies in service, we were told that the sum of N500,000 would be given to our family, but with those that I have witnessed none has been given a dime. Instead, they would go to television, radio stations and newspapers that they have paid them,” he lamented.