By Joshua Bassey
Have you ever visited some of the Nigerian Police barracks? If you have not, you need to take time out to visit one closer to you. You will be amazed at what you will see.
Dilapidated buildings, stinking gutters, broken staircases and railings, torn roofs, heaps of waste and many other unpleasant sights in what clearly depicts neglect are what you will see.
From police Barracks in Apapa (Queen Barracks), to Mopol 2 Barracks in GRA, Ikeja, Iponri Barracks, Area ‘C’ Command Barracks close to Ojuelegba, on Funso Williams Avenue and Police Training College Barracks, in Ikeja. All the barracks bear resemblance of themselves, except perhaps, the Alausa barracks, opposite the Lagos State Secretariat.
As you walk round these barracks, what comes to mind is that, perhaps, there is a correlation between the bizarre attitude of these men and women in black and the kind of environment they live.
It was not surprising that wives of police officers under the aegis of Police Officers’ Wives Association (POWA) at Iponri, Lagos, recently cried out to the authorities, drawing attention to the sorry state of their abode.
A police officer of senior rank, who spoke with CityFile on condition of anonymity, recapped the essence of having policemen and their families stay within the barracks. According to him, policemen are allocated accommodation in the barracks in order to respond swiftly to clarion call at any point in time.
“This is why it is important for a policeman to live in the barracks. It is rather a pity that most police barracks in the federation lack proper maintenance. Some of these buildings were built over three decades ago. They are actually collapsing. And they need immediate attention,” he said.
A visit to Mopol 2 barracks near the Lagos Police Command headquarters, GRA, Ikeja, revealed scary pictures of buildings which have been left unmaintained for a long time. The roofs are removed, the paints are washed off and the staircases are nothing to behold. Most of the railings are removed thereby exposing the inhabitants, particularly the children to danger. Also, the soak away are in bad shape. Here, one sees human waste and dirty water everywhere making the environment unfit for living. Open gutters as breeding abode for mosquitoes also exposes the policemen and their families to frequent malaria attack.
One of the wives of the officers who pleaded anonymity was quick to express her anger on the state of the barracks. She explained that sometime ago a little child of about three years old had fallen inside one of the damaged soak away. She said the child, who was playing around mistakenly missed his step and fell inside.
At Iponri, another woman who also did not want her name to be mentioned decried the poor state of all the police barracks. She also emphasised that the barracks are due for renovation.
“Can you compare the police barracks to Air force base? Never! Impossible” she stated with anger written all over her face. “It is unfortunate that the people at the helm of affairs have been siphoning the money meant for the project for their own use,” she alleged.
She was quick to take CityFile round the barracks where a closer look revealed most of the police barracks in Lagos share common feature of buildings in terrible state of disrepair. At some of the barracks visited, it was however, noticed that two to three buildings were renovated while others are left untouched.