THE HOUSE of Representatives has called for the auctioning of Police barracks across the country to tackle the deplorable living conditions of officers.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Hon. Murphy Omoruyi (LP-Edo) during plenary in Abuja on Thursday.
Leading the debate, Omoruyi said that the National Assembly passed the Police Reform Bill 2020, which was signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari on September 16, 2020. He said one of the core issues in the Act was to address the living conditions of the nation’s gallant police officers.
The lawmaker said the problem of adequate and dignified accommodation for police officers persists, and had so far outlived all previous measures.
He said “between 2019-2022 more than N5 billion had spent by the federal government on renovation of barracks, and that in spite of all these efforts, the rehabilitation of the barracks failed.
He said there had been robust national debate and calls for more community-oriented policing strategies.
“Having officers of the Nigeria Police living amongst the general population, rather than in their secluded barracks will significantly satisfy these calls and enhance public safety,” he argued.
The lawmaker said the barracks method of housing police and local law enforcement officers was a relic colonial practice that had since been abandoned by the colonialists.
He said police officers and their families lived in squalor characterised by large cracks on the walls, bat-infested houses, leaking roofs, among others.
Omoruyi said the nation’s police officers had been tagged as corrupt and this is not far-fetched from lack of welfare services for them.
He said members of the public have lost confidence and respect for our gallant officers due to their poor condition of service, adding that the deplorable living condition of police officers had dampened their morale and productivity.
He said if this issue was not urgently addressed, the welfare of gallant officers will continue to deteriorates. He said abolishing the barracks model and replacing it with an enhanced “Housing Allowance” determined by rank, existing police salary structure and location would be beneficial to the officers.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Police Affairs to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise to assess the value of all federal-owned barracks across the country. The House said that a public offering should be announced for same.
The House constituted an ad hoc committee to produce a comprehensive addendum to the Police Reform Bill with input from all relevant stakeholders. The House also mandated the Committee on Appropriation to ensure a redeployment of the funds meant for the maintenance of barracks across the country.
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It urged the committee to make annual budgetary allocation for a befitting “Housing Allowance” for serving police officers, while mandating the Committee on Police Affairs to ensure compliance.
It directed the committee to report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action. (NAN)