- Police recruits lament hunger, poor facilities in training school
From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
All over the world, police training schools and colleges are saddled with the responsibilities of training and retraining of officers and men of the force. Sometimes, the colleges formulate and implement policies on training and manpower development to keep the force in alignment with the dynamic nature of the society.
And it was in line with this vision that about 28 colleges and training schools were established across the country to meet up with the challenges of rank and file, that is, the recruits.
Of the 28 police training colleges and schools, the Police Training School located at Odukpani in Cross River State, seems to be the worst of all. The school need urgent attention.
Situated at Odukpani Junction along Calabar-Uyo-Akamkpa highway, the training school with about 500 recruits in session at the moment is a shadow of itself as it lacks virtually all the facilities expected of such a modern training ground for future police officers expected to maintain peace and security across the country.
Investigations by Saturday Sun revealed that the school has no borehole, no clinic and drugs to take care of emergencies just as meals provided by the food contractors hired from Abuja have become a source of worry to both staff and the trainees.
When Saturday Sun visited the school, it was also discovered that there is no perimeter fencing, and the hostel is an eyesore. The students (recruits) looked frustrated, hungry and despondent.
Some of the trainees, who spoke to Saturday Sun, bemoaned not only poor their feeding condition, but lack of safe water, alleged extortion, poor hostel accommodation and insecurity.
Beside the usual hectic training activities, it was discovered that the trainees on daily basis, morning and evening, go into distant forests and swamps in search of water to drink, bath and cook. At times, it was learnt, snakes and reptiles bite some of them.
Lamenting, a recruit, who simply identified himself as Mbang, said the quantity and quality of food given them were not fit for human consumption.
Mbang said: “The soup and food served us in most cases are watery and tasteless. No drinking water in the whole of this area. You can see how dehydrated we look. You can see the distance we trek to fetch drinking water from forests.
“Look at our hostel. Is it fit for human habitation? Sometimes we wake up battling with reptiles and other dangerous animals. It is totally dilapidated and need urgent renovation. If I had known this is where they were bringing us, I would not have joined the police.”
Decrying the poor hostel accommodation, he said: “Most of the rooms have no doors and windows. Rather, we do make shift doors and windows with pieces of planks we find around to serve as doors and windows. The rooms are mosquito-infested.”
Also lamenting, another trainee, Njok said: “Our environment is terrible. The place is not fenced, no security. Sometimes, bad boys just enter and steal our things. As if this is not enough suffering, the authorities extort money from us as we are made to pay as much as N5000 each for handouts per course. We drew the attention of the commandant to this development.”
Njok said though the commandant tried to stop the practice, but some of the teaching staff remained indifferent as they still collect up to N3000 from trainees even with the level of hardship in the country.
Bemoaning their woes, a lady trainee, who doesn’t want her name in print for fear of intimidation, said: “Since we came in here, we have not been paid a dime as allowance as was the practice in the past where recruit trainees at PTS were given stipends to help them in the course of their training. We are always told to be patient because the federal government has not released any money.”
Calling on the authorities to come to their aid, the lady wondered what will become of the Nigerian Police in future if they continue with this type of hardship and suffering in the name of undergoing training.
According to her, this development will continue to project image of the police in bad light as well dampen the spirit of the youths who are willing to serve their fatherland within the security circle.
Reacting, the Commandant of the Police Training School in Odukpani, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Ali, described the allegations as unfounded and untrue.
Ali, who denied claims that they charged each trainee N3000 before they are given handouts for their lectures, further debunked the allegation that they ask each of the 530 recruits to pay N5000 for police uniform in readiness for a shooting range exercise as alleged.
According to him, the police authorities were not even planning any such event. He wondered how trainees can be made to pay for an event not planned for.
Arguing that some of the trainees, perhaps, are looking for ways to extort money from their parents and guardians, he said when it is time for range exercise, arrangement would be handled and directed from appropriate quarters
The Commandant said: “It is a blatant lie from whoever churned out such information that I have directed the trainees to be charged N3000 for handouts or N5000 for uniforms in this school.
“In fact, I describe those who peddle such lies as murderers. I am not aware of such happening. It is completely false and inhuman for anyone to say we demand charges in this school.”
He admitted that there is no borehole to supply water in the camp, but said he had drawn the attention of relevant authorities including the Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade and the Zone 6 headquarters of the police for assistance.