16. My brief history with the Nigerian Police

A man around our area in Ibadan once had a police escort, being the General Manager of BCOS Ibadan. Anytime I wanted to fetch water and I sighted the policeman with a gun, I swiftly rushed to the other side. I have done this thrice. Till, he called me:

“Come here”

I was trembling with my feet quaking.

“Why are you running away?”

“Are you a criminal?”

“Next time you do this, I will arrest you” he continued the monologue.

I told my Mum when I got home.

“ Ah Seun”

Sanu mi oo, why are you running?” she pleaded with me

I have had very few  experiences with the police. I won’t count the “stop and search”

“Oga where is your particulars” or

“my friend, its been a while, find me something”.

That’s like a daily routine.

****

During the contest for the SUG President, I was walking around campaigning for votes. I was trying to visit some “comrades” who I was enlisting to my cause. Till I meet a fiery comrade, Comrade Kenny, who wanted to test my attitude if I was made of steel or stuffed with wool.

“Comrade Onigbinde, you see we have not had light in this area for 3 weeks and we need to do something”

“You are going to lead this march to the NEPA office to ask that our lights be restored”

Wow. I have not done this before. Lead protest? But in such era when I was begging for votes, I dared not say NO. The news will spread like harmattan fire around the school.

“Lets go” I said making the task look very small.

We chartered taxis, at least eight of them. Most of the people were not students but locals who wanted a slice of “Aluta”. Once we go to Lantoro NEPA station, we started disembarking. I noticed that I was the one everyone was following. I was ahead. Wow.

“This is trouble”

I stepped to the gate and I met the station manager who was going for a wedding ceremony, obviously late.

“Mr man, we are here to demand”

He looked at me with fury and disgust.

“How dare you call me “Mr Man”?

“Is your father “Mr Man”?

“Look at this small boy, look at this riff raff”

I was losing the steam, mumbling words. I had to persist. I can’t fail these people who cast their hope on me. We kept arguing and shouting at each other.

To apologize for saying “Mr man” will be cowardice.

While we kept on. I noticed that there was a fight going on. A police man was at the station but because he was outnumbered, he didn’t disturb. Now he was holding someone.

I didn’t know policemen were around. Before I knew it, all the boys had ran into nearby houses.  Few of us were left. I also ran into the next building but I heard a voice.

“If you move further, I will shoot you”

I halted immediately. This will not be the end of me. He He held my shirt, he pounded blows on my lips. Some slaps by the side and we were taken to Adatan police station.

We were kept at the back of the police counter, slammed with two charges – disruption of public peace and intrusion in private residence. I sat still, thinking about my parents.

“We are taking you to court. That’s all. We will also report you to your school”

At 400 level, reporting me to the school means I might be suspended. I might be expelled. Is this how I end my life?

I was more scared. We were told to sit by the back of the counter. We dropped all our phones and items. We would be moved to the police cell soon. I was so so weak.

Till I looked up and I saw my neighbours – Saheed and Waheed Shittu- who came around to see to our release. Till more students came in and the police were afraid that this might blow up into a big riot. We were told to go without conditions. On our way out, a fellow contestant, Versace came in and hugged me.

“So to become UNAABSUG President will not be that easy” I scratched my head.

There were other times I was arrested my police.

I was once taking picture on Marina bridge for a UK Technology magazine and the police accused me of spying on their compound. They seized the camera and my phones. My Dad had to come to my rescue. I had to delete the pictures.

The other was being taken right in front of my house during an environmental sanitation. Luckily for me, I knew a senior policeman in the same station. We both worked with First Bank and we had several trips to load ATMs.

One day while going to load ATM with large sums of money (almost 8 million Naira), he asked me

“Seun, what if there is a riot now and we have to run”

“What will we do with this money”  he continued

“We will try and return it to the bank” I said easily

He smiled.

“We will have to share it immediately.”

“What if I don’t accept?” I asked curiously

He adjusted his gun. I understood what he meant. He continued the trip in silence.

The Nigerian Police has hardly been my friend.

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