In this interview with EYE EMMANUELLagos Police Public Relations Officer Benjamin Hundeyin comments on the action taken by police authorities to address the case of a group of police officers caught on camera drinking beer at a venue while wearing uniform during the festive season

There was a recent report about some police officers being seen drinking in a place in their police uniform. How do you react to that as a police image maker?

I have nothing to say about it because we have made our decision. You can’t tell me you didn’t see the trace story, that all the officers have been transferred.

Yes, I did, but…

So what do you want me to tell you again? Do you want me to keep repeating myself so that there are some discrepancies and you have something to write, to say the opposite of his previous statement or something? I’m not going to talk about it again, sir. It has been concluded.

I am up to date on the issue and the follow up story that officers have been transferred to other stations. But was that transfer a form of punishment for officers caught drinking beer on duty?

Well, it’s up to you to analyze and decide. That is the decision we have made and if it does not work, we will add another measure, but that is what we are doing for now.

What do you say to those who say that transferring the officers is not a sufficient measure to deal with the case? Don’t you think the officers could continue the habit of drinking on duty in their new locations that they have been transferred to?

Listen to me, the decision to transfer these people (police) was made on December 25 after a lawyer was killed. At the time, there was nothing like some police officers being seen drinking alcohol. Alcohol was not a problem then. Therefore, no one should make it appear that he was transferred because he was caught drinking alcohol. So if they go to a new place, they will continue to drink alcohol! Our (decision to) transfer (to them) had nothing to do with alcohol. The transfer has to do with two (extrajudicial) executions in one month. So, it was to get everyone out because there were complaints from the community. People from the community said that they (the officers) had stayed longer. That was what they told us when they came to see the Commissioner of Police. They said that they (the police) had stayed longer and now they mix with the bad guys in the area and not even do their job effectively.

(We said) “Okay, okay, if they’re mixing with the bad guys, let’s spread them out across Lagos and bring people who don’t know the bad guys into Ajah, who can do their job.”

So, speaking of the alcohol, it wasn’t because of the alcohol that we transferred them. If any of them who drink alcohol, for example, go to Somolu, he will continue to drink alcohol; if he goes to Ajangbadi, he will still drink alcohol. So, the transfer is not because of that; because if you say that you are going to transfer it because of alcohol, it is not the solution, it is definitely not the solution.

For anyone who is drinking alcohol, it is left to your DPO to identify you and punish you accordingly. The DPO is not a small child. A DPO is a senior officer who has the responsibility of maintaining discipline among his boys and that is why the DPO in Ajah dismantled all the shacks there, as a way of making sure his boys didn’t drink while on duty and after that, if they still find a way to get drunk, they will be punished accordingly.

Generally speaking now, are there any rules or policies in the Police Force that deal with officers drinking while on duty?

Oga, you are a journalist Go to Google and download the Police Law. Download it and you will see what it says about disciplinary matter and the things that constitute disciplinary matter. But to answer your question, maybe alcohol or drink is not stated exactly, but anything unprofessional is punishable.

So isn’t there a specific punishment for a police officer caught drinking alcohol while on duty in a police uniform?

You do not punish unilaterally. This is not a military court. Even within the police, you will still have to go through what is called an orderly trial. He will still go through the trial. There will be an adjudicating officer. His offense will be read to him and he will be asked to defend himself and tell us why he should not be punished and all that. Then all that will be done. Even in the court of law, your defense, your argument could lessen your punishment or when they see that you are not sorry, it could actually increase your punishment and all that. So, I can’t give you anything fixed, but it is a punishable offense and (the punishment) could range from suspension to dismissal, to deduction of ranks. It all depends on the outcome of the trial.

Are there any plans by law enforcement authorities to retrain or rehabilitate those wayward officers?

Rehabilitation! Do we have any chronic problems like that?

By rehabilitation, I mean weaning these alcoholic officers off their bad habits, so they can maintain their professional ethics.

You’re making it sound like they’re addicted to drugs and permanently disabled and unable to perform their duties. Not! Don’t paint such a bleak picture. It’s not that they’re permanently disabled and addicted, but the new DPOs that take these people in are still mandated to watch them and see if they’re behaving well. If any of them does not behave correctly, appropriate measures will be taken.

Police officers are human too, just like anyone else. What would you say is an acceptable way for a police officer to celebrate or have fun during the holiday season?

Wait! Are you bringing Owerri’s problem into this? So what’s the way to celebrate? I don’t understand your context.

What I’m saying is, in a festive season like this, are there ways a cop can celebrate, like any other human being, without flouting their work ethic?

I don’t know exactly what you’re getting at, but what I do know is that when you’re on duty, you need to be professional at all times. Anything unprofessional during the service, whether during the celebration period or not, is unprofessional and should be treated as such.

You don’t expect me to be in uniform and dancing. You don’t expect me to carry a rifle and jump up and down, that’s what I’m saying. So whether it’s December or not, whether it’s New Years or not, when you’re in uniform, you behave and act the right way. When you’re out of uniform, whatever you want, you do with your life.

In some professions, especially life safety and security, an officer is required to maintain professional ethics, both on and off duty, because some activities performed while off duty can extend beyond of that time. What is the Nigerian Police stance on alcohol use?

Whoa! When I’m off duty, I’m indoors with my family, I can drink as much alcohol as I want. You have not undermined my police duties. I am off duty and am not currently doing any police duty. I can drink as much alcohol as I want. As long as I don’t go and fall in a ditch on the street so people can identify me and say, “That’s a cop in the ditch.” Even the cops who were caught drinking, they weren’t behaving erratically, they weren’t misbehaving. Yes, there was a tendency for them to misbehave because they were drunk, but at the time his colleague Dayo Oyewo took photos of them, they weren’t misbehaving. They were just drinking and they were drunk and that’s what makes it unprofessional, they were in uniform but if they had the same amount of alcohol while off duty, while in mufti, it hasn’t constituted a crime, they haven’t committed a crime. . They have not behaved badly, they have not attacked anyone, they have not extorted money from anyone, they are just drinking. Anyone can drink. Police work is not slavery, anyone can drink.

But do cops have so much free time that they can be home with their family to relax and drink if they want? Aren’t the cops really busy?

No, I will not answer that question. He goes and talks to the cops and find out for yourself. Dayo, his colleague, was able to take photos without the cops knowing, good. (You should) also try to monitor some police officers. Watch when they pick up and watch when they leave and you can tell if they worked 12 hours or worked 24 hours, but I’m not answering the question of routine and all that.

Like any other public official, we take casual leave, annual leave, medical leave, sick leave, study leave. We are also entitled to all the sheets, so I don’t know exactly what you mean.

I will tell you that you must download the Police Law. We don’t use the word drunkenness but anything that is unprofessional behavior is punishable and will be punished and since you asked me what the specific punishment will be and I told you that it depends on the specific outcome of the courtroom trial, which will range from suspension to dismissal. reduction in rank, up to dismissal.

There have been too many reports of extrajudicial killings by police officers, some of which people believe are influenced by alcoholism among police officers. Are law enforcement authorities really concerned about this sad trend and what specific measures are being put in place to stop this threat?

Anyone who commits a crime will be punished. The first inspector who killed on December 6 is still in custody as I speak to you. The second is in Ikoyi prison. So all these punishments are to deter others and that is what the law says and that is what we will continue to do.