This week, Jite shares a horrible first of hers: her first run-in with the Nigerian police (welcome to the club, Jite!). Enjoy, everyone.
Protectors, Protect us.
I have this thing I do where I take a bad memory, tie it up in a bag and let it out little by little, and then, one day I find I can deal with it without breaking into two (I don’t scatter into a million pieces; two is painful enough).
Enough of the intro.
I don’t like policemen. I have deliberately made the hole in this memory of mine very tiny because I don’t want to hate them.
About two years ago, I went to visit my godchild and her parents who are both my friends; her dad used to be my boss. There was an emergency at his print press that Sunday and he had to go and sort it out, it wasn’t too far from the house. At about 7 or 8pm, he wasn’t back and his madam began to get pissed.
“He works too hard. He said he’d be gone for only a few hours, etc, etc.” And he wasn’t picking his calls. Na so the woman rise me make I follow her go office. We got there and the work was overwhelming so we had to help. We were there finishing books till a little past 11pm. Meanwhile my baby was home with just the maid.
The house was within walking distance, so we walked. It was Awka and at past 11, the road is usually dead.
We were about to cross into their street when we heard a motorcycle screech. Next thing, there was a bus pulling up beside us. Three mobile policemen in t-shirts and holding guns -those long guns-jumped out and tried to herd us into the bus. One got a hold of my jeans waistband, where the button is in front, and started pulling. The other had my former boss by the arm. The last man was just standing by the bus, looking menacing.
I had my arms around madam in a death grip as she kept repeating that she had a four month old baby at home that she was breastfeeding; her husband tried to explain that we were just coming from the office and were headed home.
“Are you arguing with me, are you arguing with me?!” Next thing was tawai! The policeman had slapped him. My friend kept his cool, got his wallet out and gave them his ID Card.
“Where is your own?” They turned to me. See me who had just ‘strolled’ out, no purse, no nothing. I told them I didn’t have it. That was when one of them pointed his gun at me and ordered me into the bus. Somewhere in my mind, I was thinking, this man wants to kill me for what? Walking at night? Refusing to be extorted? That wasn’t even the case because they hadn’t asked for anything. Let me describe these policemen.
The one who had my jeans reeked of alcohol and some other things I can’t put a name to. It was dark and I couldn’t see much but they looked like the kind of policemen who were sent to catch armed robbers: brash and totally merciless.
So, there I was, gun in my face, many scenarios running through my head. But I knew I wasn’t entering the bus. Stupid. My friends were still explaining that I was with them and all that.
Suddenly, the men seemed to lose interest, and they got in their bus and zoomed off. That was it, just like that. It was sort of anticlimactic.
I didn’t get angry till the next day, but that’s another story. Suffice to say, I can’t look at a mobile policeman without fear and anger. I keep wondering: what would have happened if I had entered that bus? I hear stories of people being set up for all sorts of crimes. Maybe I’d have spent the night behind a counter and had to be bailed with 5-20k the next morning. I don’t know. But that was the first time I tangled with the Nigerian Police.
Jite is a writer by day and sleeps at night, dreaming of a world made of food and free of dogs. She’s the editor of sabinews.com and reviews books for Sevhage Reviews. She is happiest when she’s telling stories and has been published in two short story anthologies.