A Boost for Community Policing

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In an effort to boost rural security, the Edo State Government built a police barracks at Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, writes Adibe Emenyonu

It is not in doubt that one of the problems facing the average policeman/woman is the issue of accommodation in addition to lack of other incentives. To this end, most police officers posted out or deployed to other areas often faced with housing problem to the extent that a section of their divisions and state commands are usually mapped out as temporary sleeping places for such officers because of lack of accommodation. A visit to most police stations readily confirms this.

Victor Edoren, an inspector of police faced this challenge when he was transferred from Lokoja, capital of Kogi State to Benin City, Edo State. Because he has nowhere to go and the fact that the few barracks available are already congested, Edoren had no other alternative than to be sleeping at the state Police Command and from there to his place of primary assignment, all because of lack of accommodation. He stayed there for close to one year before he was able get a decent accommodation.

Agbakuru Ibe, a corporal in the police force faced similar accommodation challenges soon after he was transferred from Benin City to Uromi. Faced with lack of where to lay his head, Ibe at first was jostling between Benin City and Uromi on daily basis not minding the consequences of road mishap associated with such frequent traveling. Unable to bear the cost of transportation, he had to work for his transfer back to Uromi.

To both Edoren and Ibe, such experiences are never a pleasant one. However, when they heard the story of Babalola Obafemi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who was deployed to Akure from Benin, they counted themselves lucky. Obafemi while in the process of moving from his previous location to the new deployment area, had a fatal accident that nearly consumed his life, but for divine intervention.

Apart from that, the long hours a policeman stays on his beat along the road without anywhere to hide under the scorching sun or when it rains, no better place to lay his head after work, justifies why he deserves a good accommodation.

It was on this premise that Edo State government decided to add their voice in the numerous calls for proper accommodation for security agencies in order to ensure optimum performance.

Another reason for this venture, is to boost effective policing more so with the establishment of Edo University, Iyamho, the Bua Cement at Okpella and the upcoming $1billion Okpella Cement by Dangote Group all within the same axis

More to this is the frequent onslaught by armed bandits who on several occasions have raided banks in Auchi, Igarra, Uromi and its environs through neighbouring states close to the crime scenes.

All these and more according to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, informed the need for the accommodation where police men will be quartered to effectively carry out their legitimate duty of providing security.

Speaking while handing over the edifice to the Inspector General of Police, the governor explained that the two storey blocks containing a room and parlour, is meant for the rank and file, the six unit twin two bedroom flat is for officers, while the four bedroom unit is for the commander.

Oshiomhole, who noted that his intention while interacting with the building contractor was to do something very good, also added, “My own idea was to make the Commander of the Mobile Police unit residence so attractive that the Commissioner of Police may be tempted to come and live here”.

According to him, “Part of our challenge in Nigeria is convincing the elites to accept that there is life outside the big cities. That you can actually get unpolluted air and access to nature and eat organic foods as opposed to foods that have been preserved in deep freezers for weeks.

“The smallest here is a sitting room and a bedroom with toilet and bath room with a small kitchen so that every policeman will have his kitchen, sitting room and a bedroom complete with air condition. So when a policeman has been at the checkpoint some times for 24 hours, my expectation is that after that he should be able to move into a room with air condition. That way he recognises that the society appreciates the selfless service he renders on the streets.

“Not many Nigerians appreciate the sacrifices the police make on the highway. The truth is when you interview a policeman and he tells you how many hours he has been on a bit, and its threatening to rain, there is no house on the road for him to stay. He has to stay under the rain or sun to execute his duties and by the time you get home obviously you will be very tired. And when he gets back home without a comfortable house to stay, there is no way such an officer will give his best to the society”.

Receiving the housing estate on behalf of his men, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, described the buildings as state of the art barracks and expressed his gratitude to Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

Arase, who appealed to well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to take a queue from the Edo State government, maintained that the business of securing the country is the responsibility of all.

His words: “Edo State government has given us not just a barrack but a functional barracks to the Nigerian police force, that is on the human aspect of it. Secondly we will now be able to use the men that are posted in this barracks to lock down the highway between here and Lokoja which have become very serious security threat to the nation.

“So we are using both the comfort of our officers and also the security imperative of the nation putting both of them together. I am very excited, I am grateful to the Comrade Governor for having the interest of the Nigerian government and the police at heart.

“We are also appealing to corporate organisations, public spirited Nigerians to be able to reach out to us the way the Comrade Governor has reached out to us today. They say to whom much is given much is expected. The Comrade Governor has done much for us, I am sure officers that will come and stay in this conducive home will have no choice than to give their best to Nigerians that have done so much for them.”