BY TONY EDIKE
ENUGU—THE deplorable condition of the Nigeria Police Colleges appears to be a general phenomenon across the country as Vanguard observed what could be described as the worst case of infrastructural decay and total neglect at Oji River Police College in Enugu State.
Besides, the inhuman treatment being meted out to the recruits that undergo training in the college is better imagined than experienced as they are denied basic facilities needed for them to function properly while in the training camp. The police officers serving at the college also suffer the same fate as their barracks are in serious state of decay.
The case of the Police College in Oji River, according to the trainees, is that of many years of infrastructural decay, as no new structure had been built after the inception of the college which started in the early seventies, and there seems to be no plan for renovation of the dilapidated office and hostel accommodations.
During a visit to the college on Wednesday, Vanguard observed that all the internal roads are in deplorable condition while only the office buildings including the office of the Commandant, Police Commissioner Dorothy Gimba, who assumed duty in the college a few months ago, was habitable as they were repainted not too long ago.
Recruits sleep on blocks arranged as beds
According to investigations, the dormitories for the trainees or recruits are usually overcrowded whenever they are in session while many of them who could not secure the primitive steel double-decker beds sleep on blocks, which they arrange as an alternative to beds. Besides, those who are lucky to get bed sleep on flattened and smelly six spring mattresses said to have been bought at the inception of the college.
The trainees also complained bitterly of poor feeding and lack of teaching and learning facilities, which they blamed on total neglect of the college by the police authorities over time as well as mismanagement of resources by past administrations.
The college, which was built in the 70s to provide manpower for the police force as well as to boost the capacity of members of the force, especially those from the Eastern parts of the country through refresher courses, and several training sessions had been held over the years but there had been no effort to improve on the available facilities.
The Police Detective College in Enugu, which also renders in-service training for the personnel is also not better placed in terms of infrastructure, as many of the trainees lack facilities especially in the dormitories.
One of the recruits, who completed his 15 months mandatory training in the college on December 21, 2012 and now serving at one of the urban police divisions in Enugu (names withheld) told Vanguard that their experience in the college was really dehumanizing and discouraging to anyone coming into the force as a fresher. He called on the police authorities and the Federal Government to quickly intervene by addressing the urgent needs of the college.
Recalling their sad experiences during their one year and three months stay in Oji River, the police constable said: “For three to four months we slept in total darkness because of a prolonged power outage caused by faulty transformer. The giant Lister generating plant in the college had been faulty for several months and no longer in use, yet it could not be repaired and there was no replacement.
“Many of us were charging our phones outside the college and from some officers who could afford private generators at a cost of N50 per battery. Those who could not afford it stayed without phones. There is no water because the Sumo pump got burnt many months ago and pumping water from the borehole became impossible, forcing the students to source water from other unsafe places.
Rooms are water logged during rainy season due to leaking roofs
“It was like living in hell during the rainy season because most of the dormitories had leaking roofs. The hostels were covered with asbestos roofing sheets many years ago and they have now expired, including those used for the offices and quarters for police officers. Whenever it rains at night, the rooms would be waterlogged and we will be forced to keep vigil till morning.
“We had 10 squads living in 10 hostels. The asbestos roof in hostels one, two, three, four and nine had been replaced with aluminum long-span roofing sheets and are in good condition, but the rest (hostels six, seven and 10) as well as the kitchen are in a very bad shape as they are all leaking. The kitchen where they cook for the trainees is very dirty. Rice and Beans, which is a regular meal served, are usually filled with stones. Rice is usually served with hot pepper with excess red oil poured on the food causing the trainees running nose (catarrh).
“We are served food without meat or fish. They serve rice with only crayfish and you have no right to ask any question about it. The food at the college canteen is generally poor forcing the trainees to patronize the nearby Mammy market operated by some officers’ wives.
“In fact, our condition there was just like that of prison inmates. The difference is that we had freedom to move around. We call ourselves prisoners jokingly because there was no much difference between us and prisoners.
“Apart from the hostels, many officers’ quarters are also leaking while soak-away pits have become obsolete causing leakage of human wastes. The mattresses used on the iron double-deck beds are too old and dirty. They are just like mats causing the trainees body pains.
150 trainees occupy hostel built for 100
“Electricity in the hostel was not functioning well as wires (cables) are drawn from all corners to get supply. In our session were 2, 015 recruits but 1, 920 passed out successfully on December 21, 2012. Each squad had 150 members in one hostel whereas as we learnt, the capacity was for 100 men. The entire hostels were congested but we never complained. The last squad was recruited October 17, 2011 and we passed out on December 21, 2012.”
“While in the training camp we were paid just N3, 493 allowance per month for the period of 15 months. The allowance was paid late most times. But we were given uniforms, belt and canvas without paying for them. It was indeed an experience but let’s hope that the next set of trainees would have a better deal.”
The new Commandant of the college, CP Gimba, could not be reached for her comments as she was not on seat when Vanguard visited but sources said she had severally sent the situation report on the college to her superiors at the headquarters for necessary action while she had tried to improve on the condition of available facilities and ensured strict discipline among the officers and trainees.