EVEN THE INNOCENT WILL WANT TO BE DETAINED AT THIS POLICE POST
In the organisational structure of the Nigeria Police Force, the police post is the smallest unit. In most cases, it would take an extraordinary thing to happen before a police post can attract the attention of the Area Commander, not to talk of the Commissioner of Police in the state.
But recently, in Amansea, Awka, Anambra State, a police post attracted the presence of the Inspector General of Police with hundreds of other top police brass and eminent personalities in attendance.
Most Nigeria citizens dread police stations. Detention cells in most of the stations are terrifying and people sometimes forfeit many things just to avoid being a guest of police cells. But the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan, Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, has changed the status and perception of the Nigeria Police.
The Archbishop unveiled a police post with a difference at the Holy Family Youth Village Hostel, Awka. Inside this police post, the cells are designed as correction rooms for boys and girls and other facilities inside the station could pass for any in a residential apartment. Apart from the traditional flag of the Police and the National flag, no other thing in the building identifies it as a police post as the place contains various state of the art facilities.
The police post, a storey building with twin compartments consists of a charge room, an ultra modern office for the District Officer (DO), another spacious office for the officers, correction rooms for boys and girls, well furnished apartment for the DO and another for the officers .
There is another apartment for the police chaplain and one brand new patrol SUV attached. A guest, after inspecting facilities in the youth village, exclaimed: 'This is like paradise on earth. With this kind of police post, I wouldn't mind to be detained.'
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha , Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke also unveiled another ultra modern lawn tennis court for the students to the delight of all present.
In a short homily during the Eucharistic celebration preceding the official commissioning of the project, Archbishop Okeke said he was motivated into action in developing the Youth Village Hostel after considering the plight of students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in the hands of shylock landlords who exploit them because of shortage of University owned hostels.
He thanked various philanthropists and kind hearted individuals who contributed immensely towards the building project from inception till the completion stage. He also charged the students to make good use of the facilities in the hostel and also mould themselves into productive adults who could give back to the society in future.
'If you train kids like pigs, you get pig adults. Those who graduated before you had kiosks as their halls for lectures and residents. UNIZIK then was like a little forest interspaced with cubicles. That's where they studied and graduated.
'We were worried and then prayed to God to help us do something for the oncoming generation so that the situation would not continue to be that way. Today, God has done it so that people like you can live in hostels like this that are of universal and international standard. Students can now live in this good environment and do serious academic work, mental and spiritual development.
'We look forward for a greater future for you. Our dream is for you to grow from greatness to greatness, from glory to glory and we are looking forward to a time when you will assume positions of leadership so that you will replicate such facilities for other people. In that way, Nigeria can be like other developed societies and even surpass them in finesse, refinement, in training and providing for the youths so that they will be great and live lives to the full.'
The Archbishop said that because of the uniqueness of the police post, the detention rooms/cell have been designed as correction room for boys and girls and not the conventional police cells in Nigeria where defaulters are locked up.
The inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim who marveled on the existing facilities at the hostel and the structure in the new police post described the vision of the Archbishop as the recipe for a crime free society.
'I'm impressed with what I've seen in this youth centre today. This is what the country needs at this moment. The youths all over the world for lack of what to do have been very restive and efforts like this are the recipe to bring the crime situation down. I want to implore all well meaning Nigerians, rich men, poor men, religious and even not too religious people to embark on exercises like this,' he said.
For the National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, the society will prosper when the church complements the efforts of government in moulding the character of youths who are the future leaders.
'With what has been put on ground in this complex, the students will be in a better position to concentrate on their studies. It is also complemented with a chapel and any student who walks around here and sees Jesus Christ hanging on the cross, will tend to be more cautious with the life he lives. This is very good and with this kind of initiative from the Archbishop, we have no doubt that in the nearest future, we shall have graduates who are successful both in training, learning and character.
'If we have graduates who are deficient in character, even if they have first class degrees, they will most likely become a burden to the society .This is a reform centre and I know the character of students here will be reformed. With dedication to their studies, they will obtain good grades and when they combine both, our society will prosper,' he said.
The Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Boniface Egboka also gave kudos to the Archbishop of Onitsha for the hostel. He endorsed the hostels as the unofficial alternative hostel for the University since the campus owned hostel cannot accommodate all for now.
Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi while commissioning the lawn tennis court described Archbishop Okeke as a trail blazer and one who is committed to the welfare of the flock entrusted in his care.
A total of 111 priests and 15 Reverend Sisters attended the ceremony. Other dignitaries at the epoch making event included Chief Obinna Uzor, Chairman Gocuz Group, Chief Cletus Ibeto who incidentally built and donated another gigantic hostel in the premises, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, Chairman, South East Council of Traditional rulers, Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu 11 of Awka, Igwe Nick Obi of Nnobi, among others.
Georgette Ezechukwu, a 200 level student of microbiology resident in the hostel described the Archbishop as a great gift to the youths of Nigeria and said that those of them privileged to live inside the youth village hostel have become princes and princesses.