Police officers attached to the Ajiwe Police Division, Ajah, Lagos State regularly abuse alcohol, which may be responsible for the increasing rate of extrajudicial killings by police station officers.
investigations by PUNCH Subway showed that residents and business owners also saw the trend.
According to them, police officers are always under the influence of alcohol while on duty and on patrol.
They said this could be responsible for the recent murder of a pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, by a police deputy superintendent, Drambi Vandi, who was attached to the station.
Two weeks earlier, an inspector, Imeh Johnson, attached to the same division, also shot dead another resident, Gafaru Buraimoh, who was on his way to buy fuel.
When our correspondent visited the police station at around 10am on Tuesday, some of the officers were seen grouped in pairs outside the premises.
Closer observation revealed that some of them were consuming alcohol in baggies, while heavily armed.
One of the two officers, who was sitting near a hairdressing salon attached to a building next to the station, was seen with a glass of beer, which he drank at intervals.
A policeman was seen among another group of officers hiding under a shed adjacent to the station drinking a canned alcoholic beverage with a pistol strapped to his waist.
While some vendors around the police station put some of the alcoholic beverages within the officer’s reach, other officers kept out of prying eyes by walking a distance to patronize other vendors.
After observing this for almost an hour, a handsome-looking officer, who had been seen earlier walking down the corridor of the station, signaled to our correspondent.
Close contact with him showed that he was drunk, as his body reeked of alcohol.
While this reporter thought he was going to be questioned about his presence around the police station, the policeman, sounding incoherent, asked for a sum of N200.
Out of curiosity, the reporter gave him N1,000 pending his balance.
The officer immediately took him to a vendor, bought a bag of alcoholic beverages, and drank it on the spot, while the vendor delivered the rest.
PUNCH Subway He also learned that police officers made regular visits to some liquor vendors behind a car park under the Ajah Bridge, where Raheem was shot dead.
Visiting the site and mingling with some of the street urchins, our correspondent watched as they waved at some of the policemen, who came to patronize a customer spotted on a corner under the bridge.
One resident, Soliu Adekanmbi, said the officers were known for their open abuse of alcohol.
He said: “The officers do things the way they like and no one is checking on them. It seems that no one can stand up to 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 everyone knows, but nobody can say anything since the police authorities have not done anything about it.
Our correspondent also deduced that most of the police officers had been in the area for a long time and had refused to be transferred.
The president of a community development association, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, said this had contributed to his excesses in the community.
He said: “Most police officers have made this community their permanent home. Most of them rise through the ranks to retire here. That is why they have become uncontrollable. Some have been at the station for 15 to 20 years. Every time a transfer arrives, they tamper with it. They know who to seat. Even in the Langbasa police station, there is a Supol Sunday and an inspector Yomi and as many as 10 of them who have passed that many years. They do not want to leave the station for pecuniary gain. When the first incident occurred, they changed the DPO. But the one on Sunday shows that it is not about changing DPO but about police officers”.
The executive director of the Center for Advocacy for Rule of Law and Accountability, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that drinking while on duty was in contravention of the Police Act 2020.
He said: “The Police Act 2020 is very clear about the use of alcohol among police officers. Prohibits police officers from drinking alcohol while on duty. It also provides penalties for persons who offer or sell alcohol to police officers on duty. Drug use and abuse among security agencies, including the police in Nigeria, is very high. Uniformed cops walk into beer halls with guns, sit down and drink alcohol. This is prohibited by law, but it has become a regular sight.
“There is no other way to explain what happened to the woman (Raheem) ordered than that the officer acted under the influence of alcohol, because how do you explain a police officer simply pulling the trigger on a woman who was not armed? ? ?
“One of the themes that arose after #EndSARS was the need to do a psychological evaluation on police officers, especially those who handle weapons to make sure they are mentally stable. But this did not happen. Even recruitment procedures have been compromised. Unfit people find their way into the police because the guideline for recruitment is circumvented. There is a need for genuine commitment to implement reforms that address these issues, as well as competent leadership at both the police and political levels.”
According to state police public relations officer Benjamin Hundeyin, it is an offense to drink while on duty.
He said: “If a police officer is drunk while on duty, it is a disciplinary offense and there are established procedures for dealing with that person. It is the duty of the DPO or any officer who finds the same to file it for disciplinary action.”