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How secure are Abuja hotels?

Some hotels operate on rented premises. And then they cut corners to maximise profit, pay owners of the land and settle themselves. They hardly employ…

Some hotels operate on rented premises. And then they cut corners to maximise profit, pay owners of the land and settle themselves. They hardly employ enough staff and lack the necessary working tools. These, among other factors, make security in hotels a thing of great concern, Sunday Trust gathered.

Since last year when armed robbers were arrested in a hotel in Dutse, a squatter settlement in Abuja, the police have intensified surveillance on hotels in the metropolis with a view to forestalling criminal activities.

A sources close to the police said all hotels in Abuja have been instructed to periodically brief the police on their activities and the status of their guests. The source said the police often insist on screening the list of people who lodge in hotels.

In spite of the efforts by the police to rid the hotels of criminals, it has been observed that criminals still make hotels their safe haven. Some have even secured suites to themselves permanently.

Penultimate week, the police paraded two armed robbery suspects arrested at a hotel in Wuse. They had allegedly robbed some foreigners. The FCT Commissioner of Police (CP), John Haruna said the police overpowered the robbers arrested two and killed one of the suspects.

Two police officers were hit by bullets in the crossfire while other members of the gang fled. The commissioner said the police were informed about the robbery incident by residents adding that the police quickly mobilized and surrounded the hotel within 30 minutes.

Recently, a lady was raped at a hotel in Jabi. The rapist invited the lady to his hotel room under the guise of discussing some issues with her. He raped the girl and left her unconscious in the hotel room. When he (the rapist) was spotted at a restaurant in Area 11 Garki, a week later, he crushed a police undercover agent who was attempting to arrest him with his car and zoomed off. The policeman later died in hospital while the suspect is still at large.

In another incident, a London-based journalist who came to do a training contract in Abuja was duped of £200 in the lobby of one of the big hotels in Abuja. He was in the lobby when someone walked up to him and requested for the said money from him. The person promised to settle a problem outside quickly and return it shortly. He did not see the person again.  

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the FCT, Moshood Jimoh said the police had adopted strategies in monitoring hotels in the city by deploying plain clothes and uniformed police officers to the hotels. He said recently, the police raided some hotels and arrested fraudsters.

However, hotel managers who spoke to Sunday Trust said they had always taken the security of guests seriously. Though Sam Ayadi, operations director of Golden Age Hotel Ltd, Abuja, said the security situation in his hotel had been encouraging, he revealed that the hotel was once attacked.

Said he: “Early this year, we witnessed a robbery attack. Two of them [robbers] gained entrance but because our security men were quite sensitive, the police were immediately alerted. When they [robbers] realised that, they escaped. No life was lost, no property taken away.

“We have tried as much as possible to ensure that things are put in place to secure the property and lives of our guests. We have our own in-house security staff working. We have security staff employed on contract—they work with us hourly and our in-house security men do patrols both day and night.”

He maintained that the hotel employed professionally competent staff and managers, and therefore, benchmarks services to other services that are available in Nigeria.

Ayadi identified poverty as one of the factors that breed criminal activities on hotel premises.  “One of the major security lapses we have here compared to what we have overseas is our very high level of poverty. I also look at inadequate infrastructure. In a situation where you don’t have regular power supply, you will find out that robbers or potential robbers would want to take chances; look for opportunities to attack.

“More so, in a situation where you call the police and they have problems of adequate weapons and all that—the robbers themselves know this—they would want to take advantage of that. They know they can easily escape, after all, the police would not be as responsive as they should be,” he added.   

On security tips, the operations director advised that front office staff should always  be sensitive to the behaviour of check-in guests. He said through this, a guest with a criminal intent would be turned back.

He said right from the gate, the way a guest comes into the hotel, hops out of their vehicles and moves around, they should be noted, watched carefully and any noticeable strange act be quickly communicated to the front office staff. He advised guests to always declare whatever valuables they have so that they (valuables) can be protected.

Ayadi stressed the need for adequate training of hotel staff to enhance efficiency.

The chief security officer of one of the hotels in Jabi district, who declined giving his name, said his hotel was secure and any attempt to invade it would be disastrous for the invaders.

But analysts have expressed concern that many hotels were not properly managed. They contended that hotel owners had greater consideration for profit and neglect the basic services they ought to provide.

They expressed need for more investments by managers in areas like staff training and acquisition of security equipment.

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