Some policemen attached to Ajiwe Police Division, Ajah, Lagos State have been accused of always being under the influence of alcohol while on duty and on patrol.
Punch visited the police station after the recent killing of a pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, by an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi, who was attached to the station.
An inspector, Imeh Johnson, attached to the same division, had also shot dead another resident, Gafaru Buraimoh, who was on his way to buy fuel.
According to Punch, some of them were spotted consuming alcohol in sachets while heavily armed upon closer observation. The publication reported that one of the officers who sat close to a barbing salon attached to a building beside the station, was seen with a glass cup of beer, which he allegedly sipped at intervals.
It added that policeman among another set of officers who took cover under a shed adjacent to the station was allegedly seen drinking a canned alcohol drink with a pistol strapped to his waist.
It was also reported that while some vendors found around the police station allegedly made some of the alcoholic drinks available within the officer’s reach, other officers stayed away from prying eyes by walking a distance to patronise other traders.
After a close observation for over an hour, a Punch correspondent reported that a fair-looking officer beckoned him to come. Close contact with him showed that he was drunk, as his body reeked of alcohol.
He reportedly sounded incoherent and requested a sum of N200 from the journalist. After being given the money, he took it to a vendor, bought a sachet of alcoholic drink and gulped it on the spot.
It was also gathered that the policemen allegedly paid regular visits to some alcoholic vendors behind a motor park under the Ajah Bridge, where Raheem was shot dead.
A resident, Soliu Adekanmbi, told the publication that some of the police officers are known for their open abuse of alcohol.
“The officers do things the way they like and nobody is checking them. It looks like nobody can confront them. Most of them are always with alcoholic packs while on duty. They drink them here under the bridge while in uniform. It is what everybody knows, but no one can say anything since the police authorities have done nothing about it.”
It was further learnt that most of the policemen had spent a long time in the area and had refused to be transferred.
A community development association chairman told the publication that this has contributed to their excesses in the community.
“Most of the police officers have turned this community into their permanent place. Most of them rise through the ranks to retire here. That is why they have become uncontrollable. Some have spent between 15 and 20 years in the station. Anytime a transfer comes, they manipulate it. They know who to settle. Even in Langbasa Police Station, there is one Supol Sunday and one Inspector Yomi and up to 10 of them who have spent up to those number of years. They do not want to leave the station because of pecuniary gains. When the first incident happened, they changed the DPO. But the one that happened on Sunday shows it is not about changing DPO but the policemen.”
Commenting on the development, Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Okechukwu Nwanguma said;
“The Police Act 2020 is very clear on the use of alcohol among police officers. It prohibits police officers from drinking alcohol while on duty. It also provides penalties for persons offering or selling alcohol to police officers on duty. Drug use and abuse among security agencies, including the police in Nigeria is very high. Police officers in uniform enter beer parlours with arms, sit and drink alcohol. This is prohibited under the law, but it has become a usual spectacle.
“There is no other way to explain what has happened to the woman (Raheem) order than that the officer acted under the influence of alcohol, because how do you explain that a police officer would simply pull a trigger on a woman who was not armed?
“One of the issues that came up after #EndSARS was the need to do a psychological evaluation of police officers, especially those who handle arms to be sure that they are mentally stable. But this did not happen. Even the recruitment procedures have been compromised. People who are unfit find their way into the police because the guideline for recruitment is circumvented. There is the need for a genuine commitment to implement reforms that address these problems, as well as competent leadership both at the level of the police and at the political level.”
Also reacting to this, Lagos police spokesperson Benjamin Hundeyin noted that it is an offence to drink on duty.
“If a police officer is drunk while on duty, it is a disciplinary offence and there are laid down procedures dealing with such a person. It is the duty of the DPO or any officer that discovers the same to bring him for disciplinary action.”