Abuja security officers and alcohol abuse
The security of lives and property is the fundamental duty of government the world over, and a very sensitive aspect of society, hence the need to ensure that the welfare of security operatives are well taken care of.
In most climes, military and paramilitary officers including the police, are groomed to take pride in their jobs, professional gears including uniforms are therefore held in high esteem as officers wear them with pride and never want to be caught in wrong places in their uniforms.
The case is however not the same in Nigeria, as there have been several accusations of misconducts levelled against security operatives in the course of duty. Top of which included allegations of demanding and receiving bribes, shooting of unarmed civilians, accidental firing of arms ‘accidental discharge’ among several other allegations.
Some security personnel have also been accused of taking illicit gins during work hours, as a number of them have been sighted at beer parlours fully kitted, sometimes complete with their rifles.
In the federal capital territory for instance, uniformed men, including those of the Nigerian police, have been severally seen hanging around spots where local brews and gins, shekpe, are sold. Most times these men are not there on patrol or investigation, but are there to unwind even in their uniforms.
Our correspondent observed that unoccupied spots like the open space behind the old Central Bank in Garki II, the busy food section of the UTC plaza, Utako village, among other locations attract security personnel even at office hours.
With no care in the world, these officers stroll into beer parlours and freely mix up with criminals. The situation is worst at night when those on night duties report at drinking joints like they are their duty post.
A bartender in Lugbe, Olisa Kingsley, said sometimes they come with their uniforms to drink, “but I would not really know if they are still on duty, because you know they run shifts, so I cannot confirm that those who come here to drink on their uniforms are actually on duty, but if it is after work, they come here to drink and enjoy themselves.
“It was only ones that an officer has been drunk here to the extent that his colleagues had to carry him home. I was so disappointed with him because the kind of work they do puts them the eye of the storm and they should live morally above board.”
Another local herb seller, Idiat Babatunde, who hawks her products at the Garki market, said most of her customers are uniformed officers.
She said most times she strategically positions her wares close to their offices so that those who are going out for work can take a shot.
Idiat, who sees nothing wrong in encouraging the officers to drink, believes they need the shots to embolden them to arrest criminals. She said it is not her place to refuse them alcohol when then request seeing that they are armed.
“For me, aside the money I make from this business, I honestly feel the officers need the drink because they face the harshest work conditions and also expected to arrest the toughest of criminals. I feel they need the drinks to distract them from the poor work conditions they face, and sometimes toughen them to the level of the criminals they face on a daily bases.
“Aside from that, I can’t boldly refuse an officer drink, who can say no to a man who is armed? Some of them are not patient and can throw away your drinks if you refuse to sell to them or ask you not to return to that area with your wares.”
She said not all of them can take it some because of religion, others their head cannot carry the drink and those can they are very cautious of where they take it because they always say that they would be queried if seen drinking on duty and that at times one query is too much for an officer to carry.
An inspector of police, who does not want his name in print, said though it is highly unprofessional of an officer to drink during work hours, most of them are pushed into it due to frustration.
He noted that the welfare of the police are not well taken care of, and so some of them take to bottles to console themselves and end up being addicted to alcohol and other illicit drugs.
“When you see an officer during working hours at a drinking joint, know that something is wrong somewhere, it might be out of frustration of bills to pay and family challenges that trail you to work which can affect your disposition to the work. Some of those officers you find in those joints are also addicts, they find it difficult to do without the drugs and drinks that is why they abandon their duty post to go to these beer parlours not minding the consequences when they are caught.
The inspector said another reason some officers take to alcohol during the day, is due to winch hunting and frustration from their superiors.
“Sometimes when your superiors assign you to very difficult tasks, or very risky assignment and you would want to calm your nerves down before you embark on such responsibilities. The truth is these ogas do not know what we go through to ensure that their instructions are carried out even in the face of difficult working conditions,” he said.
Attempts to get the number of officers arrested under these circumstances were not responded to by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, and the police, when we reached out to them.