A stern looking and gun-totting policeman mounting guard at the entrance of the police station yelled, “Who are you looking for?’’ “The Divisional Police Officer,” this correspondent replied.
By Temitayo Famutimi
After being informed the DPO was not around, the visitor requested to see the divisional crime officer.
While being led into the arrival room of the police station, which is popularly called the charge room, he was welcomed by three photographs hanging on the walls, directly opposite the entrance of the station.
The pictures were those of the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar and the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikemefuna Okoye, showing them wearing a smiling look, which sharply contrasted with that of the policeman at the entrance of the station.
Inside the charge room, clothes of officers and men of the station hanged precariously on the walls, while the policeman behind the counter, hitherto flipping through some documents, asked, “Oga, how we can help you?”
After some interaction with him, this correspondent sat on one of the two haggard benches positioned beside the wall.
One side of the wall has been turned into a blackboard of some sort, serving as an official “portal” for registering the number of suspects being held in the station’s detention facility. There is no computer system in the charge room, which is the main administrative office of a police station.
When this correspondent sought to use the toilet, he was directed to one of the uncompleted structures behind the main building. As the policeman later revealed, the arena is the best bet for whoever is to pressed by nature as the toilet within the building is not usable as it is in a state of disrepair.
Besides, the premises of the station was packed full of abandoned vehicles and motorcycles, many of which were either impounded by policemen on sundry grounds, those involved in accidents, or meant to be used as an exhibit for a criminal proceeding in court. The surrounding area looked like a mechanic workshop –disorganised, unkempt and unattractive.
But while the abandoned vehicles have taken shine off the aesthetic value of the premises, they serve as relaxation arena for policemen within the station. The fact is that although policemen are known to work in a high-stress environment, such that on each passing day, they tackle security challenges, in Nigeria little is being done to satisfy their relaxation needs.
The above scenario is a sample of what obtains in many police stations across the country. Apart from the fact that many of them are lacking in aesthetics, the state of affairs in many of them dampens the morale of an average policeman.