(PTS) Police Training School in Odukpani local government area of Cross River state is facing serious degradation. There is hunger, starvation, frustration on the faces of the trainees. They are currently undergoing terrible experiences occasioned by poor feeding condition, lack of portable drinking water, alleged extortion by the authorities and poor hostel accommodation, among others.
Investigations conducted by our correspondent revealed that trainees trek long distances in search of drinking water which are usually found in ponds and streams in faraway forests and swamps. These are natural habitat for all sorts of snakes and reptiles.
Over 100 trainees in the early hours of everyday are seen going into the forest and swamps in search of drinking water. A recruit who pleaded for anonymity said they have been going through unpleasant experiences, ranging from poor feeding, lack of water, and extortion, adding that, the quantity and quality of food served to us is nothing to write home about.
“The soup and food served to 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 are trekking to fetch drinking water from forests. As if this is not enough, the levies imposed on us by the authorities is more or less extortion, we are made to pay as much as N500 each for handouts per course.”
“We drew the attention of the commandant to this development. And he waded into the matter, by trying to stop such a practice. But some of the teaching staff remained indifferent as they still collect up to N300 from us for handouts even in the face of the hardship.
The trainees decried the non-payment of stipends which, according them, had become a norm, poor hostel accommodation as most of the rooms have no doors and windows. Rather, according to them, “we do make shift doors and windows with pieces of planks we find around to shed the doors and windows in the mosquito infested hostel rooms”
Commenting on the situation, the commandant of the institution, an assistant commissioner of police, Mr Mohammed Ali, refuted the allegation, saying they were unfounded and untrue. He denied claims that they charged each trainee the sum of N300 before they are given handouts for their lectures.
The commandant debunked the allegations in his office on a dilapidated structure at the sprawling PTS premises where he was met. Hear him: “It is not true that the school has asked each of the 530 recruits to pay the sum of N5000 in respect of police uniform in readiness for a shooting range exercise as alleged.”
He said in the first place, police authorities were not even planning in that direction, neither have they allocated any ammunition to that effect. “How then can we begin to ask trainees to pay for such? Even if it was time for range exercise, such arrangement would be handled and directed from appropriate quarters.”
He argued that some of the trainees, perhaps, were looking for ways to extort money from their parents and guardians. He maintained that, “it was a blatant lie from whoever churned out such information that I have directed the trainees to be charged N300 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 place charges in this school.”
On why the trainees in their numbers trekked every morning for up to 15 kilometres into the surrounding forests in search of drinking water as well as the dilapidated hostels and offices, the commandant said it was not within his purview to drill boreholes or fix the buildings. But he said he has drawn the attention of higher authorities, including Governor Ben Ayade to the situation for assistance and that he was still awaiting response.