Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday called on the federal government to auction all police barracks across the country to enhance their welfare.
The Green Chamber also asked the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Police Affairs to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to immediately assess the value of all federal owned barracks across the country and announce a public offering for same.
The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance on the need to address the deplorable living conditions of officers of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) raised by Hon. Murphy Omoruyi.
Moving the motion, he recalled that in September 2020, the National Assembly passed the Police Reform Bill 2020, which was signed into law by the former Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari on September 16, 2020.
He said one of its core issues was to address the living conditions of the nation’s gallant police officers.
The lawmaker noted that the problem of adequate and dignified accommodation for police officers persists and has so far outlived all previous measures.
Omoruyi stressed that between 2019 – 2022 over N5 billion was spent by the federal government on barracks renovations, adding that despite all efforts, barracks continue to fail to meet basic needs in their current state of disrepair and lack of maintenance.
The lawmaker pointed out that there had been robust national debates and calls for more community oriented policing strategies and having officers living amongst the general population, rather than in their secluded barracks would significantly satisfy the calls and enhance public safety.
Omoruyi emphasised that the barracks method of housing for police and local law enforcement officers was a relic colonial practice that had since been abandoned by the same colonialists in their home countries.
He expressed worry that police officers and their families live in squalor, characterised by large cracks on the wall, bat-infested houses, leaking roofs and dilapidated structures for barracks across the country.
Omoruyi lamented that police officers had been tagged as corrupt, saying this cannot be divorced from lack of welfare services for them.
He said the public has lost confidence and respect in the country’s officers due to their poor conditions of service.
Omoruyi expressed concern that the deplorable living condition of the police officers has dampened their morale and productivity.
He noted that if this issue was not urgently addressed, the welfare of the gallant officers will continue to deteriorate.
The lawmaker stressed that the abolishment of the barracks model and replacement with an enhanced ‘Housing Allowance’ determined by rank, existing police salary structure and location would be highly beneficial to the officers’ welfare, morale, productivity as well as the good of the general public.
The House therefore urged the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Police Affairs to liaise with the BPE to immediately assess the value of all federal-owned barracks across the country and announce a public offering for same.
It also mandated the Committee on Appropriation to ensure a redeployment of the funds meant for the maintenance of barracks across the country and provide annual budgetary allocation for the construction of befitting housing for serving police officers.