Nigerian Police Station In Lagos That Operates Under A Tree Shed

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This is a disgrace to our beloved country, Imagine this, where will the prisons be situated? Kai, this is a major hand falling, police station under a tree shed. For vindication, this station is the area ‘M’ Police Command, Idimu, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria

National policing needs and the resources that go into its implementation have always been controversial. There are various schools of thought on the subject of police budgets namely, those who believe that the resources going into the policing of the nation is too large relative to the other sectors. There are others who think the resources going to the policing efforts are too small to achieve national policing objectives. There are still others who believe that the resources going to the police is neither too much nor too little but that it is simply being mismanaged. It is not necessary to take a stand here by contributing to the controversy. Lets examine the impact of police budgets on the welfare of police officers in Nigeria by examining variables like weapons, other equipments, housing, medical facilities, education, crime rates.

Weapons

On paper, a sizable chunk of police budgets are spent in acquiring modern weapons but nothing could be farther from the truth in reality. Most policemen are armed with varieties of weapons ranging from outdated Kalashnikovs to pump action rifles. These weapons are grossly inadequate for effective policing requirements and dampened the courage of police officers when they come in contact with superior firepower of criminals.  Ammunitions for these weapons are also rationed for the police officers, ensuring that the police cannot engage armed robbers with almost limitless supplies of ammunition in prolonged gun battles without suffering casualties.

Other Equipments

Other equipments and accessories are in the same shabby state. Most police divisions, stations and outposts have no serviceable vehicles.   The motor transport pools and the maintenance yards are full of scrapped police vehicles with no spare parts to put them back on the road. Where such vehicles are available, there will be no fuel to drive them for operational purposes most of the time. Boots, uniforms, belts and berets are not regularly issued and this explains the shabby appearance of most Nigerian police officers. It is also a known fact that police officers sometimes have to buy their uniforms   either from their own store-men or from the open markets.   It is also a known fact that most security guards are better turned out than theNigeriapolice officers

Salaries and Allowances

The remuneration that accrues to Nigerian police officers is very poor relative to what is obtained in other developed countries. The poor remuneration is also lopsided against the junior officers (Rank and file). Officers are relatively better paid than junior policemen. The study quoted above found out that the average military officer received about four times what the average enlisted man was paid. The difference for the police is not that great.

The poor pay can be used to explain why most police personnel engage in criminal activities like cultivation of cannabis, extortion of money from motorists, charging for bail and cooperating with criminal elements within the society.  The salaries and allowances being paid to police officers also reinforces and lock them into the poverty cycle since they are not able to save enough from their salaries to ensure a better future for themselves and families. It is interesting however to note that Nigerian police personnel are highly regarded outside and performs creditably well when on international assignments (I have interacted with them in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan with the same outcomes). It is impossible to hear of Nigerian police personnel demanding for bribes, charging for bail, going drunk to work and when placed on stop and search duties, to demand for bribes from motorists. I have also never heard of any case of 'accidental discharge against any Nigerian police personnel outside Nigeria) This could be explained as due to the remunerations they are paid (an average of $4000 US dollars per month) while on international assignments. The fear of losing this legal source of income and being returned home is enough to keep our police officers in check and stop their usual antics when outside. the government might want to experiment with a smaller police force that is better paid, better educated and better motivated than the present unwieldy arrangment of poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly motivated force that we have.

Housing

The general outlook for housing in the country is poor while the outlook for the police is poorer. As usual, the officer cadre are better housed while the rank and file make do with accommodation that could be described as disgraceful. Most junior officers are housed in one room apartments sharing the primitive facilities with others.

The housing types provided vary from state to state. Even within states, it varies according to locations of the commands. Those that stay in cities where the pressure on police housing stock is higher have poorer accommodations while those located in provincial areas are better accommodated.  Some officers located in distant outposts sometimes live in huts. This has nothing to do with politics but is due to simple laws of demand and supply for housing stock. 

The continuous recruitment of the rank and file has also created new challenges of accommodation for police planners. New barracks are not being built fast enough to accommodate the new rank and file, thus worsening the already precarious accommodation problem in the police barracks. A substantial number of police officers also live outside the barracks because of the shortage of living space in the barracks. Most police barracks are eyesores and negatively impact on the well-being and attitude of police personnel in the way they interact with citizens.

Medical Facilities

The medical facilities available to armed forces personnel in Nigeria have been discussed in detail in the 1997 study.  All the medical facts mentioned are also relevant for theNigeriapolice.  The estimates for Doctors, nurses and bed per thousand of population are all lower than the national per capita estimates.  As a result of the deplorable state of police medical facilities in Nigeria, most senior police  officers patronize private hospitals or travel abroad while the rank and file make do with what is available or go to quacks.   Drugs are irregularly supplied and when they are supplied, such drugs tend to disappear magically from the medical stores only to reappear in private pharmacies owned by some of the medical personnel or their relatives.

Crime

The police barracks in Nigeria are crime-ridden.  Criminal acts are not limited to police officers alone.  Their dependents too are even more involved.  The most common crimes include burglary, pilfering and selling of police kits and equipments, selling of controlled substances, rape, and procurement of women for prostitution and vandalisation of buildings.  The high crime rate in the police barracks is inevitable because of the poor welfare situation.

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