• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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How secure are you?


The man was very upbeat, a mischievous smile playing on his lips. I peered at him from the back window of my car. He made a motion and a face which made no sense. He also gesticulated with his hands so I wound down the car window so I can hear him. Where is my Auntie? I asked him. I was visiting an Auntie with whom I had lost contact for a while. She had moved house and I had promised to visit as soon as I can. It was morning, the weather was cool and clouds of blue and grey continuously shifted up above. The morning was pleasant and I was looking forward to seeing my Auntie, settling down to a nice meal as she is a really good cook and catching up. But nothing prepared me for the security man’s answer- “She has gone out”, he said. “Well, okay. Please give her my card”. Then he stuck his head into the fringe of my car and with a toothy smile, he whispered- “Actually, she has gone to Lagos but asked that we tell no one”. Then he chuckled. “I understand”, I told him. “Give her my call card”.


But I really did not understand. Your boss has asked you to be quiet about her whereabouts and you are telling someone you have never met before that she has travelled even though you were not meant to tell. I searched my mind as I drove off. Why would a man whose job is to secure someone for a fee, put her out for danger? What was he going to gain by giving out this critical information? Supposing I was a petty thief, armed robber agent, or swindler? I pondered over this for a while; then it came to me slowly but surely. This guy considers this information high level and is pleased to offer it to me for a fee, of course. How dumb can you be Eugenia? You should have known from the get go. There is a method to the security madness in Nigeria. They shamelessly beg you for money at various gates which is a disease and if they are too embarrassed for that, which is rarely, they offer you unsolicited information with the hope that you would be too excited with this information and give them unsolicited money. Everything has gone down the drain and it scares me to know that the percentage of security men who know what they are doing in Nigeria is fairly limited.


I am concerned that at this rate, your security/gate man may offer other forms of information to passers-by for a fee. In the not so distant future, an armed robber, hired assassin, petty thief, burglar, murderer, kidnapper may soon get your itinerary from the person trusted to protect you. Many stories abound of persons murdered by their trusted aides, security men, family member etcetera. Armed robbers and assassins and kidnappers have confessed to conniving and collaborating with maids, guards and even relations to invade, malign and cause grievous bodily harm to their employers and relatives.


I used to have a driver who we referred to as chief organising officer (grounds). He knew everyone from the gateman to the gardener wherever we went. It was the same way that he was familiar with everyone that news of my whereabouts at each location was spreading like wildfire. I would be in an estate visiting a friend and a random gardener would welcome me back from London. I had to let go of my driver for fear that one day he might undo me.


But more than anything else, to stay secure, one needs to be discerning. Do not discuss in the presence of your domestics/aides everything about your personal life. Do not make tell-tale phone calls when been driven about money, journeys and your personal business. Do not discuss your children’s run-away success, how much they are earning, how much you are earning, your latest contract or even your purchases and how much it sets you back in your car, on a plane, with a neighbour in full view of your gardener/maid, or your children’s nanny. Do not send these people to fetch you large sums of money, to your safe or your wardrobe where you have stocked eye-popping jewellery. Do not say I did not tell you. And then train whoever you hire to be discerning and please do not hire randomly. Try and get references. Stay alert at all times.


While you can trust a limited few, be safe, be discerning, be security conscious!

Eugenia Abu