Inside The Deplorable Army Barracks Housing Nigerian Soldiers [Photo Essay]

HumAngle takes a look at the decaying infrastructure at the Ojo and Ikeja Cantonment barracks in Lagos, which face a host of problems begging for urgent government attention.

Nigeria has recently been engaged in warfare on multiple fronts within its borders, with soldiers doing the heavy lifting of restoring security. In spite of this, army barracks across the country, where many of the personnel and their families live, are poorly maintained and in need of renovation.

Security challenges bedevilling the country have forced the government to deploy armed forces across most of the states. 

For over a decade now, Nigeria has been engaged in a war with insurgent groups seeking to establish a state governed by extremist Islamic principles in the North East. In the North West and North-Central regions, terrorist gangs attack rural communities and engage in widespread kidnapping for ransom. There have also been deadly clashes between pastoralists and farming communities. There is grave insecurity in the South East as a result of the secessionist agitation by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), now declared a terror group . The South-South is marred with sea piracy and oil theft, and kidnapping and crimes occur frequently in the South West states. 

As military personnel continue to battle all of these and ensure the safety of lives and properties, HumAngle found that their families are left to suffer in deplorable conditions within the barracks.

Barracks are buildings designed to accommodate military and paramilitary personnel with their relatives. The aim, according to soldiers who spoke with our reporter, is to separate security and intelligence officials from the civilian population and reinforce discipline. 

But soldiers familiar with the conditions of barracks in various places, including Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Benue, and Cross River, told HumAngle that their accommodations are not only decrepit but also inadequate. 

While some soldiers rent apartments in town, many who cannot afford to do this spend out of pocket to improve the condition of the places assigned to them within the barracks so as to make them habitable. But there is a limit to what they can do.

Between August and September, HumAngle visited the Ojo and Ikeja barracks in Lagos and observed a lack of basic amenities such as electricity, potable water, and even toilets.

Leaking roofs, broken walls, overflowing sewage at Ojo barracks

At Ojo barracks, seeing tires on the rooftop of buildings is common because the tires are used as temporary solutions for emergency repairs of blown-off roofs and also to prevent further water infiltration while soldiers await professional repair by the Nigerian Army.
A broken and stinking septic tank of human waste materials without proper cover shows a sign of abandonment by military authorities. 
A dilapidated toilet where families of soldiers in a block of 10 flats queue to defecate at the Ojo Cantonment army barracks in Lagos. When the queue is long, many engage in open defecation and throw their waste materials in nearby bushes. 
After the stench continued to irritate residents of Ojo army barracks, soldiers used tarpaulin and stones to cover one of the overflowing soak-aways containing human waste. The barracks authorities have abandoned it for the past five years. 
Soldiers told our reporter that they continue to live in dangerous buildings, risking the lives of their families, because they do not have the financial means to rent apartments outside the army barracks. 
A soldier was visibly angry when she spoke to HumAngle about how she usually places buckets on her mattress whenever it rained to prevent it from getting soaked due to the leaking roof. 
Part of a room that was damaged by the water from the leaking roof. 
After occupants had complained about the building’s state of disrepair on several occasions, they decided to contribute money to support the structure with six-inch blocks. 
Overflowing soak-away takes over the street.
One of the dilapidated structures occupied by families of soldiers begs for urgent attention.
The state of a soak-away reflects the eyesore that army barracks have become across Nigeria. 
Our reporter observed broken sewage pipes and stinking drainages that showed signs of abandonment. 
Cracked wall of one of the buildings housing Nigerian soldiers and their relatives at Ojo Barracks.
After his room fell apart, a soldier gathered money to get used zinc to construct a room for himself and his family members.
A dilapidated bathroom where families of soldiers in a block of 10 flats queue to have their bath. 

Damaged water point, dilapidated toilet at Ikeja barracks

One of the buildings housing men of the Nigerian Army and their family members at Ikeja Cantonment barracks. Photo: Adejumo Kabir/HumAngle.
A concerned soldier taking HumAngle to most of the dilapidated structures at the Ikeja cantonment army barracks. 
A spoilt tap forced most residents to look for alternative means of water far away from their reach. 
Dilapidated toilets and bathrooms serve a block of 10 flats. 
Like Ojo barracks, seeing stones on rooftops is common as they are used as temporary solutions to prevent roofs from getting blown off during a storm and also to prevent further water leaks.
A dilapidated building housing families of soldiers.

Photographs by Adejumo Kabir.

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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