I just want you all to know how terrified and unhappy I am about the extent of decay in the Nigerian police system.
I left my residence today at about 12.30pm with the aim of buying a trouser and a pack of bathing soaps. Boarded a local bus which dropped me at the popular “Orisumbare” market.
I crossed to the other side to check the roadside boutiques for the trouser. Just about getting there, I noticed three policemen pointing at me from their van. They beckoned me over and I obeyed.
There were four policemen in the van. Three were armed. Only the driver wasn’t.
The policeman at the front seat next to the driver asked for my name which I gave.”What do you do? “He further questioned.”I’m a student at LAUTECH” I replied. He then asked for my identification card and when I told him I wasn’t with it, I could see the delight etched on his face ! “Why aren’t you with your identification card?” He asked,in a rather harsh tone. “I just wanted to get something quickly sir” I replied.
He then ordered me to enter the police van. I hesitated for a moment but when I saw a policeman at the back of the van raising his gun, I complied.
They collected my phones and began to search me abusively. They stopped when they could not find anything incriminating. The policeman in the front seat, apparently the leader of the police team asked me to unlock my phone and I told him it wasn’t locked(he could not operate a Nokia XL!)
I helped him get through to the gallery where he wanted to go to( reason? I don’t know).
After checking for a while, he turned back and shouted at me “you’re a yahoo boy”, “dating ni onshe (i.e dating is what you do)“. I was amazed by these false accusations and replied “No sir, I am not a yahoo boy”. He then began to shout again. “You think I’m a fool? Ode loh pemi(you think am stupid)?”.
The policeman by my right then tapped my feet and whispered “oga nah gentle man,make hin no vex, tell am say you be yahoo boy”. At this point, my heart saddened, respect crushed. Did he just say that? I wondered.
They drove into a nearby garage and asked why I had white people’s pictures on my phone. I told him i work for a blog, where I talk about fashion and those “white people(models)” were wearing clothes I’d written about. He said “blog”? He did not know what a blog was. When I realized his level of illiteracy as he did not understand, I kept quiet and they drove off saying they were taking me to the “station”. At this point, they had taken every means I could use in communicating for help.
They stopped when they saw another young guy on a bike. They stopped him and brought him into the van asking him the same set of questions I was asked earlier before driving off again. They stopped at an area I couldn’t quite recognize but it was full of “shouting thugs”. I was amazed again when I saw policemen hailing people I presume are thugs because of their looks,appearances and mannerisms.
The three policemen went out of the police van with the other guy leaving behind me and the driver. At this point, I was terribly afraid and started begging the driver “please sir, I swear, I’m not a yahoo boy”. He replied “don’t worry. He would leave you if he doesn’t find any incriminating evidence”. A reply I was very much happy with.
The leader of the police team entered the van and started questioning me again,this time threatening to use “juju” on me if I didn’t confess, I was scared !!!
“You are stingy, stingy yahoo boy” he said. They all entered and the leader of the police team told the driver to drive straight to the “station” but I was surprised when they stopped in front of a “joint”.
At the sight of another young man, they shouted “you, ole(thief)” ! The boy, scared at this point, ran for his dear life. He was chased and caught. They dragged him to the police van and started accusing him. “You’re a thief ! why did you run?”, You’re a cultist they alleged when they saw a tattoo on his body. Few people gathered already to watch the scene.
The leader of the police team ordered me to get down from the police van then narrated a story about how he had caught yahoo boys and people involved in cyber crimes. “I jazzed one boy when he didn’t co-operate and he came back to beg me after 4 months” he said.
He left me and asked one of the other two policemen to “talk” to me( ie to get money from me). I told him “sir,I am not a yahoo boy” and “I dont have any money on me”. They left me alone after noticing I was of no good to them. I had to trek out of the unknown zone with people staring at me as if I was “a boko haram member”.
With this very shocking harrowing experience as a young Nigerian, my heart bleeds for Nigeria and for our police. Do the youths stand a chance to walk freely in our country without fear of molestation?
I wonder how many other harmless civilians this would have happened to. Some jailed for no reason, some maybe killed. Let us stand up and say NO to this vile act. How can we live in a society where policemen are terrors to the lives they are meant to be protecting?