The State Of Nigeria Police Barracks Is A Growing Security Concern

Many issues affecting the performance and welfare of Nigeria Police came to the fore when the ranks and files of the police threatened a strike, but not much was said about the deplorable conditions of the barracks where the police and their families live.

There has been a cheery news that Usman Alkali Baba, Nigerian Inspector General of Police has ordered the immediate commencement of financial computation and adjustments of Police emoluments in line with the new salary structure.

This did not come intentionally though, it took a threat by the ranks and files of the Nigeria Police to embark on strike over non-implementation of new salary structure approved for them by the Nigerian Government. While it was everywhere that the police were planning a strike, the Force Headquarters denied such development.

But a wireless memo, dated March 15, 2022, with reference number, CB:4001/DOPS/FHQ/ABJ/Vol, said heads of departments and state commissioners of police were told to sensitise their officers on why they should not try to go on strike as steps had been taken to address the issue.

The signal read: “Intelligence reports available to the Inspector General of Police indicate that some members of the rank and file are intending to embark on strike over non-payment of the new Police salary structure, and failure in providing sophisticated weapons to fight crime and poor general welfare of policemen.

“Note that the Inspector General of Police has directed the immediate computation of salary, under the new salary structure, tax relief/exemption for officers and men for immediate implementation.

“Since that approval, the Salaries and Wages Commission has issued an implementation circular, the Minister of Police Affairs and the IGP have been working with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to ensure the stoppage of tax deductions as directed by the President and approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC.’’

Salary is not the only thing wrong with Nigeria Police

Nigeria police is rated low by the public−there is a lack of trust, confidence and respect for them−but the conditions of barracks where police and their families live across Nigeria is also a key factor why they are usually not seen as significant others.

The Nigeria Police live in squalor quarters for barracks across the country, and this has always been a source of concern corresponding to the well-being of the operatives, their families and indeed their work output.

Large cracks on the walls, bat-infested houses, leaking roofs, broken and smelly soak-away channels as well as dilapidated structures dot the Mobile Police Barracks located in Adeke, along Naka/Ankpa Road in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, North-central Nigeria, the Daily Sun reported.

A file photo of a Nigeria Police barracks

The picture painted in the report represents the eyesore that Nigeria Police barracks have become across Nigeria. Perhaps with the exception of police quarters located in Abuja, the country’s capital, there is arguably no place where the police and their families live in a befitting abode.

Why is Nigeria still keeping police barracks?

In July 2017, Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross Rivers State called for the abolition of building barracks for personnel of the force.

“The barracks practice must be abrogated, the police ought to live amongst the people and not amongst themselves,” Duke said at the presentation and launch of a book ‘Law on Prevention and Detection of Crimes by the Police in Nigeria’ in Abuja.

The former governor said that the barracks were conceived to protect the expatriate colonial administrators from the rest of the civil population. He believes that police ought to live or be embedded in the community as part of measures to promote community policing as against the current practice of building barracks that not only isolates the police but leaves them to wallow in decadent structures.

There have been divergent views on the need or otherwise for police personnel to live in the barracks.  In an editorial about a year ago, Leadership newspaper argued against the practice of police living outside the barracks while making a case for decent accommodation for the ranks and files.

“It is disheartening, in our view, that policemen still live outside the barracks in various parts of the country. Apart from the danger this poses to their own safety and that of their family members, it is a major inhibition to their smooth deployment for operation or recall for emergency duties,” the newspaper argued.

The government is not unaware of the sorry state of police barracks; it perhaps has not thought it imperative to give the police a befitting place to live. In 2020, Suleiman Abba, the Chairman, Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), promised to renovate the barracks and demolish distressed ones in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

“What I am seeing today is a dilapidated barrack…if not that I don’t have where to put them today, I would have relocated them (policemen), knocking down one or two and rebuild the barracks to a human habitable status,” Suleiman, a former Inspector General of Police said during an assessment of police barracks in Lagos. What is not clear nearly two years after is if the barracks have been given any facelift.

More worrisome is the fact that police officers in Nigeria work and retire without having a home to spend the rest of their life. In 2019, the police signed a joint development agreement with a property development company, Echostone Nigeria Limited, to develop 100,000 homes for its officers nationwide at the total cost of N750 billion.

Under the agreement, the Nigerian Police Property Development Company (NPPDC) will provide the land and Echostone will serve as the developer. The Nigerian Police Force Mortgage Bank (NPFMB) will provide the mortgage facility and the off-takers. The project consists of one, two and three bedroom homes, built to the highest quality standard and in a very beautiful environment with parks, gardens, schools and shops.

Also, the Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank has a housing scheme for its officers, but it remains to be seen how many of the ranks and files whose salaries have not been improved are able to afford the houses.

What analysts say would save the police from this recurring disgrace of the poor state of police barracks is for the police chief to look inward so as to create buffer funds for this purpose.

Leadership newspaper in its opinion believed that depending on external institutions like the PTF for the renovation and construction of barracks will not yield the desired results considering the bureaucracy associated with the operations of such organisations, paucity of funds and corruption in the system.

Many also say the police authorities also need to prioritize allocation of funds to barrack projects in its annual budgetary system. A judicious spending of such funds allocated to the projects will save the police from the current embarrassing situation.

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Yekeen Akinwale

Yekeen Akinwale is a multiple award-winning investigative journalist with over 17 years journalism experience across different newsrooms in Nigeria. He had previously worked at Leadership Newspaper, Nigerian Compass, New Telegraph and Freedom Newspaper. A graduate of Mass Communication, Akinwale was the Head of Newsroom at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) before joining HumAngle. He is passionate about investigative reporting, environment, climate change and developments. Akinwale is the 2018 Investigative Journalist of the Year for Diamond Media Award for Excellence (DAME) and 2019 Business Reporter of the Year for Nigeria Media Merit Award ((NMMA).

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