Are Decaying Police Barracks Affecting Law Enforcement Efficiencies in Nigeria?

Its often said that the quality of space in which a person lives can either improve or deteriorate their quality of life and by extension their mental state and level of productivity in society.

According to this article by pulse, the blocks of buildings housing police officers in the mainland and Island areas of Lagos State are pathetic sights and an imminent disaster. The question becomes, could the lack of quality housing for Police Officers be contributing to the dearth in service quality they offer? The tragic Christmas day report of a fatal shooting in the Ajah area of Lagos state, called this unfortunate reality into question.

Police officers construct and maintain drainage by themselves, They do the general cleaning and maintenance of the barracks by themselves because nobody will do it for them. The government just collects the money and embezzles it. This practice is as old as the police force itself.

Housing Barracks, as the name implies, are intended to address the housing needs of military and paramilitary institutions. Unfortunately, for the many men and women of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), these housing barracks do not offer a decent space to live and could actually be having an adverse effect on the inhabitants.

From a lack of pipe borne water, to inadequate sanitary facilities or poor drainage facilities that are unable to mitigate flooding, quite a number of barracks around the country do more harm than good the the police personnel that dwell therein.

There has even been a case of building collapse within a barracks in Lagos which killed one person and left another with a broken arm. This incident amongst others, calls into question the structural integrity of the buildings within the barracks as well as the lack of maintenance on the facilities. This is the face of the national police force accommodation department levying charges on occupants of the barracks.

We live in rat-holes not fit for even mad people – infact, some officers in Benin barracks throw faeces over  from perimeter wall

The Mopol 2 barracks in Ikoyi is said to be one of the oldest in Nigeria, and accommodates mobile police officers (MOPOL) in Lagos. But since the Police Mobile Force was established in the country, the facility which houses hundreds of police officers, has not been renovated. Today, the barracks is an eyesore with dilapidated structures, riddled with cracked and broken walls that appear to be on the verge of collapse. The state of some of the barracks has even forced the police force itself to issue a quit notice to residents to vacate the facilities for their own safety.

In 2020, a former Inspector-General of Police and Chairman of the Police Trust Fund, Sulaiman Abba inspected some of the dilapidated police barracks in the Obalende and Ikeja areas of Lagos State. Abba promised that the PTF would renovate the structures in order to improve the welfare of personnel of the Force.

“While assessing the deplorable condition of the barracks, the Police Trust Fund Chairman, Sulaiman Abba, assured the police personnel and their families of the President’s commitment to improve their welfare and living conditions with a view to getting the best service delivery from them.”

This in-depth investigative piece by the sun news paper from 2019, offers a deep dive into what the men and women of the Nigerian police force have had to deal with for decades in barracks around the country. It highlights the state of things at the time in 6 different states of the Federation. In fairness, the federal government has begun the rehabilitation of police facilities nationwide, and claims to have completed the construction of over 198 projects including more than 120 modern police stations, and barracks across six geo-political zones of the country, one wonders the extent of the damage already done to the force personnel.

Considering all of this, we can begin to see the link between the rise in police brutality cases that continue to adversely affect citizens (even after the EndSARS movement) and the welfare or lack thereof of these officers. Without a dignified place to live combined with poor and inadequate wages as well as poor working conditions in police stations, its not hard to see how all of this could affect the physical and mental health of officers and lead them to unsavoury practices of corruption and even a lack of empathy for the citizens they are trained to protect. The Nigerian police force has been indicted in everything from ‘renting arms for money‘ to extortion of citizens and much more. These acts of corruption and criminality are not unconnected to a their lack of welfare and proper accommodation. If they have their basic needs, (of which housing is key), taken care of chances are such acts would drastically reduce and policing would be more efficient. But wait a minute? do they really need to be in a barracks? Maybe if they lived among the citizenry as opposed to secluded in a barracks that could further encourage better synergy but I suppose that’s a topic for another article.

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