No less than N2.046 billion has been budgeted for the upgrade of facilities at the various police colleges across the country, yet the condition of living in the colleges remains pitiable. Investigations revealed that in the budget years of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, over N2 billion was budgeted for the upgrade of facilities in police colleges and training institutions located in eight states namely Lagos, Kaduna, Borno, Enugu, Oyo, Rivers, Ondo, and Osun states.
The authorities of the Nigeria Police were shifting blames yesterday, when asked about the whereabouts of the funds meant for the maintenance of police colleges nationwide.
The Senate has summoned the police authorities to give account of the budgetary allocations to the police colleges.
Checks have revealed that the Kaduna college is uninhabitable, while the opposition parties have called on the federal government not to victimise anybody in a bid to apportion blame.
A breakdown of budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Police for the yearly upgrade of police colleges and training institutions between 2009 and 2012 is as follows: 2009 – N700 million, 2010 – N759 million, 2011 – N291 million, 2012 – N296 million, bringing it to a total of N2.046 billion.
In the 2012 budget, N52 million was provided for motorcycles, N203 million for vehicles, N310 million for vans, and N596 million for armoured personnel carriers.
The police command also proposed N431 million for arms and ammunition, N84 million for video security surveillance systems in Borno, Kano, Oyo, Edo and Anambra states, N52 million for automatic fingerprint identification system, N84 million for forensic and DNA test laboratory, and N241 million for explosive ordinance disposal equipment for the anti-bomb squad.
Other items of expenditure in the 2012 budget include N295 million for anti-riot equipment, N450 million for bullet-proof vests gear, N243 million for "anti-terrorism equipment", N165 million for security intelligence equipment, and N271 million for UHF walkie-talkies and rehabilitation of its outdated analog UHF communications system. The budget for barracks’ rehabilitation and construction is N585 million.
The cover over the sorry state of the police training institutions was blown open following a report on the terrible state of the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, done by Channels Television recently.
The documentary, it is believed, prompted President Goodluck Jonathan’s surprise visit to the Nigeria Police College in Ikeja, Lagos, on his way to Cote d’ Ivoire for an ECOWAS meeting, last week.
The visit, said to be "a fact-finding inspection" by a police source, was intended to enable the president address certain issues hampering the qualitative training of policemen.
Senate summons minister, IGP, others
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A stunned Senate yesterday indicated that it has summoned the police authorities, ranging from the minister of police affairs to the Police Service Commission, inspector-general of police and others involved in the management of police funds.
It also through its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) announced that it would launch a thorough probe of the utilization of all budgets appropriated to the Nigeria Police Force in the last four years, with particular emphasis on police colleges and other training outfits.
Nonetheless, PAC, the Senate’s statutory ombudsman, acknowledged weakness in the oversight of the police by the committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives. PAC is the only committee constitutionally empowered to investigate the treasury of government through its agencies and ministries at random and it must be headed by a member of the opposition party in the Senate or the House of Representatives.
Chairman of the committee Senator Ahmad Lawan (ANPP, Yobe) said it had already taken some steps to ensure that the police authorities appear before it to explain the utilisation of the funds appropriated particularly to the college.
He, however, could not provide the total amount budgeted for the police in the last four years offhand, but declared that it is very certain and clear that the sudden visit of the president to the police college in Lagos exposed the fact that some agencies of government have not been living up to expectations.
"The public accounts committee has already taken some steps to ensure that the police authorities appear before the committee to explain the utilization of the funds appropriated particularly to the college. But we are also expanding beyond the college, because this is a sign that all is not okay with the police organisation. I want to hope that the rot will stop with the police college. But if in the course of our investigation we discover that it is more than the college and that some organisations within the police are facing the same thing, then, we have to take very serious action.
"First, we have to determine whether the funds were adequate so that if the funds were not adequate, we’ll like to see how prudent, economically and efficiently the scarce resources were utilised. If however the funds were enough and someone failed to do his or her duty we will surely recommend serious sanctions for whoever is responsible,” he said.
On poor oversight by the National Assembly, Senator Lawan said: "I will agree to the extent that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate and House committees on Police Affairs, should have detected this rather than the president.
"But it is also very correct to say that there is Police Affairs and Police Service Commission. These are people that are directly involved with them. So it is a responsibility that we share. But I believe that we are supposed to take the lead in the oversight process because this is our major work. We are supposed to be visiting institutions and organisations that have been appropriated public funds, to ensure that the funds are utilised properly.
"So this is an eye opener not only for the police affairs committees but for other committees. And the Senate President has consistently told us to ensure that we have oversight functions and programmes that would ensure that no public fund is put in another way or used in an imprudent manner.
"So I am sure that we would step up our oversight. And the president should do more of this kind of thing because if for anything, it would give the trainees the impression and confidence that their leaders are really concerned with what happens with their training at institutions."
Senator Lawan, however, waived off complains of poor funding of police, saying:
"I always believe that efficiency, economy, prudence and effective utilization of resources is much more important than quantum of resources. Because when we emphasise on having more funds, neglecting the efficiency aspect of utilisation, we don’t achieve anything. Some organisations with good management could achieve more with little. It is not about the quantum of money but how strategically the funds are utilised and efficiency of utilisation.”
Police ministry passes the buck
There seems to be a disagreement over the agency responsible for allocating funds for the running of the police colleges, as both the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Police Force headquarters differ as to who handles the budget of the colleges.
When contacted and asked to to disclose the amount allocated in the budget to the police colleges in the last couple of years, the spokesman of the Ministry of Police Affairs, Mr. James Odaudu, referred to the Police Force headquarters as the source for the details.
Spokesman for the police, CSP Frank Mba, when contacted, said the force headquarters handles only operational and routine administrative matters, pointing out that the force was not responsible for the budgetary allocations.
Kaduna college uninhabitable
LEADERSHIP’s exclusive checks at the college revealed that the hostel accommodations were looking uninhabited.
The deplorable state of infrastructure at the college has forced some of the recruit policemen undergoing training resort to illegal connection of power to their rooms.
Even dormitories are not habitable as some of the windows had been broken, and there was no bed and mattress to sleep on.
One of the trainees who pleaded for anonymity says how the hostels have become a shadow of its own.
"Some of the facilities at the college were so bad that the place was not fit for human habitation. There is lack of water, irregular electricity supply, poor toilet facilities and lack of bedding," he said. "It is totally disheartening to enter inside the rooms. We are now vulnerable to any sickness — no good water to drink, the toilets are something else. You have seen for yourself how dirty and terrible the hostels are, except for the ones near the gate, the hotels are just nightmares."
Another recruited officer who spoke to LEADERSHIP shortly after their afternoon training said, "The situation in the college is even beyond imagination. Apart from the poor infrastructural decay, there is also the issue of poor remuneration; we are given only 3, 000 monthly."
According to him, "some of the recruited officers that recently passed out were made to sleep on tables, chairs. You need to enter the toilets and see for yourself how unpleasant they are. But we have to stay like that since we have to work and earn a living.
"Many a time, we queued to use the toilets as some of the facilities were blocked due to overfilled septic tanks,” he added.
Again, Jonathan misses the point - ACN
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The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said that while President Goodluck Jonathan’s surprise visit to the Police College in Ikeja last week to see the decrepit state of the training institution is commendable, the president again dropped the ball by his comments during the visit.
Don’t Witchhunt Anyone, CNPP Tells Jonathan
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) also has said that President Jonathan and the federal government would be playing the ostrich if the authorities of the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, were witchhunted over the report by Channels Television, which exposed the rot and dehumanising conditions under which police recruits live in the institution.
It said the television station, its journalists and other media organisations that will follow up on the story must also not be harassed in any way.
CNPP said in a statement by its secretary-general, Chief Willy Ezugwu, that while the promise by the president to address the problem is commendable, it is disappointing that the exposé by Channels Television is being put down as an attempt to embarrass the Jonathan-led federal government.
The statement said President Jonathan should rather confront the problems of the Nigeria Police Force as an institution head on, instead of reading political meanings into what most Nigerians have always suspected: that a group of people feed fat on the money meant for security while institutions are allowed to rot.
"He should also find out why the minister of police affairs has never taken any tour of the police facilities in the country or why policemen are responsible for buying their own uniforms or why divisional police stations are responsible for fueling patrol cars. It is this kind of rot that has made officers and men of the police force unwilling assassins and robbers who mount roadblocks to extort hapless Nigerians and kill anyone who fails to pay up," CNPP said.