A near fatal mishap in Lagos (2008)

On my first visit to Lagos, Nigeria in 2008, there was an incident that could have been a lot more dangerous than it was. It was only by chance that no-one was hurt.

There were several trips away from the compound that required a Mobile Police escort. On these excursions, our two four-wheel drive vehicles formed a convoy with one police pickup truck with armed police in front of us and one behind us. They were armed with AK47’s and at least looked the part. When they were not on escort duties, they guarded the compound in which we worked.

At the end of three weeks, my team wanted to have a photograph with our police guards. They appeared in uniform with their AK47's and were delighted to pose for photographs. They were very relaxed and full of smiles.

When we were finished we thanked them and they sauntered back to their guard post. One of them was swinging his weapon with one hand held high above his head. There was a loud bang, which was followed by the sound of the guard yelling and holding his fingers in pain.

It was clear that his weapon had been loaded, with the safety catch off and had "one up the spout". He had only been holding the weapon with his finger and thumb, which is why the recoil had been so painful for him. We never did discover where the bullet had gone. We were just grateful that it had not been fired in our direction.

In the photograph, you can see at least one of the guards is pointing his weapon in the direction of the other people in the picture. Only one of them is holding his weapon with his trigger finger in a safe position.

The guard was last seen receiving a dressing down from the company's Head of Security for what was a serious breach of protocol.

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