I was surrounded by six muscular, fiery looking young men, whom I had never seen before each armed with a long gleaming dagger.
“What’s the meaning of this nonsense?” I demanded, trying to hide the fear in me.
“Ask yourself,” one of the Men replied with a sneer on his face.
“I’m sure this must be a joke, abeg let me pass jo, “I said trying to break out of the ring.
“We’ll kill you today “one of them said adding to the fear and confusion inside me.
“Today and what have I done that you should kill me? “ I asked no one in particular.
At this point while outwardly calm. My body was getting wet with sweat while my heart was beating like a car doing 120 km.
“When we kill you, you’ll know, “the one that appeared to be their Leader replied.
“Finish him”, he barked.
As they closed in on me, two things happened at that moment. First, I suddenly found myself armed with a gleaming dagger. I didn’t bother to know how a weapon of this nature entered my hand, all that mattered was the fact that I needed to use it and save myself from my assailants.
Secondly, the fear and confusion inside me suddenly disappeared and I became bold and fearless like Spartacus. The fight was tough and bloody as we stabbed one another, when the dust settled; the six were down soaked in their own blood while I remained the only man standing.
“This is amazing “I said to myself. Discovering that, despite the stabs I had received, there were no wounds on my body whereas my assailants had died from the wounds I inflicted on them with my dagger.
“Amazing” I was still reflecting on the incident when an unfriendly hand pulled me roughly and I opened my eyes only to discover it was a bad dream in which I had emerged victorious. But there was plenty commotion around me, as my eyes focused on the black uniform of the police man in front of me. My brain cleared at once as I came to face the reality of armed policemen in our house.
“Hmmm” I exclaimed as I pondered on the dream once again. We had gone to bed the night before Thursday precisely, without any premonition of what the following day, would bring.
“I will never forget this day,” I hissed as a police corporal pushed me towards my family members.
I was still asleep when events began to play out; it was my elder brother Kami who filled me in with the gist.
“it was six a.m and I had just finished praying when I heard noise at the gate on coming out I saw policemen inside the compound they were already beating the gateman
“Ah ah?,” I exclaimed, interrupting him, “for no just reason?”
“My brother they were shouting, “everybody out” so we all came out only to be confronted with over fifty policemen armed to the teeth and itching to shoot…” my brother paused,
“…when we came out and didn’t see you, papa sent me to call you and I was given a policeman as escort who preferred to wake you up instead of allowing me to wake you”
“No wonder the roughness,” I remarked.
While huddled together and watching events play out like a nolly wood movie scene, one of the police men walked towards my father
“my name is Udeh Onuoha DSP, we have information that you’re harboring ,training and arming secret cult members in this compound and we have come to arrest them” “Officer, you’re welcome please you are free to do your job,” my father replied.
At that moment, the policemen searching our house came out.
“Yes where are they?” DSP Onuoha barked.
“Oga, we didn’t find anything – o “the sergeant replied.
“Okay put them in the jeep\’ he ordered.
” Jeep?” the sergeant asked?
”yes, the jeep” he replied and the sergeant saluted and left.
“Papa help us na they are taking us away,” my younger sister pleaded with my father amidst tears.
“Don’t worry, you’ll soon be back,” my Father consoled.
As the drama unfolded, my brother and I watched calmly, they first took us to the divisional police command where the DPO ordered that we should be taken to police Headquarters at Diamond Hill because the case was above his jurisdiction. At the police Headquarters, we were kept in a room to await the next line of action.
“Na wao-o, “I began “when will this nightmare end?”
“I don’t know – o Kami replied.
Suddenly, a plain clothes detective entered the room. “You there follow me” he said arrogantly.
“me? I asked
“yes man and don’t waste time-o, I didn’t send you to join cult..”
“am not a cult member” i replied
” shut up before I shoot you.”
Immediately, I kept quiet I had heard of police brutality, how horrible things happen to even innocent people and the culprits are never brought to book. After making my statement, I returned to the detention room. Some university boys and girls had just been brought in and were being tortured. I watched horrified as a boy was being whipped on his bare back.
“What is the name of your group?” The boy was asked.
“Am not a cultist” the boy replied.
This answer only earned him another round of flogging.
“You’re a cult member say yes”, the policeman commanded seeking to make the boy admit.
“No am not,” the boy replied defiantly, and the whipping continued.
“My God, police brutality”, I hissed shaking my head.
“Don’t be too emotional about this” my brother warned me. “Mind your own business”
I wondered why I was not brutalized like those unfortunate boys. Maybe because I co-operated with them but how? We were silent and watching when a plain clothes Police man came in and called my brother to go and make his statement. Shortly after, we were called into another room where a man dressed in mufti was waiting for us. We were not allowed to sit down for the duration the man spoke. Highlighting the dangers of joining secret cults and how it is a serious offence and also punishable under the Laws of the land.
“you can all go home now” he said “you just follow the sergeant.”
“Yes sir, “the sergeant answered saluting. “Follow me,” he barked.
We followed him out of the office through a corridor. At this point I was wondering how we would get home because we had no money on us when the police forcefully took us away that morning. But my thoughts were interrupted when the sergeant spoke directing us to enter a police pick up.
“Constable, take them home,” he ordered.
“yes sir,” the constable acknowledged.
Throughout the ride home, I was lost in thoughts-very deep thoughts over the drama that had played out right from the morning till that moment. It was still as if i was dreaming but the cold air that assaulted our faces as we drove along the streets made me realize I was wide awake and also a prominent actor in the drama.
The sound of the vehicle: – horn brought my father and mother to the front door.
“I told you”, he said, looking at my younger sister, “that you’ll soon be back.”
While my Mother hugged us, “Don’t mind those criminals, they know what to do and were to go”
“It’s okay, “my father interrupted.
As the dust was settling I was still curious over something and I was not going to give up until I discuss it with my father and the opportunity came that evening.
“Papa-o, there’s something I can’t quite figure out I began.
“Yes, shoot,” my father said taking his eyes away from the T.V.
I then went on to narrate all that happened at the police station, the brutality of the police and coercion of those boys by the police to admit being cult members and how we were not harassed.
“Okings”, my father called me.
” Yes papa”, I answered.
“Life is funny and our nation is a funny one too” he paused while I waited.
“You see what happened today depicts a sick nation. I’ll tell you why the police did not beat you at their station…“
With that statement my father narrated what transpired between him and the DSP that led the police team to our house. “It was not easy” he continued.
“The DSP said every man has a price and meeting his price is the only way of preventing you all from further harassment. I told him it was extortion and very unfortunate too, and I don’t know if I can meet his price. The DSP rather said in the police you don’t dare go out and come back empty handed so you must be brought to the station for interrogation and it can be very brutal and painful but if settle nothing will happen to you all”.
“So how much did you give him? “I asked.
My father smiled “initially he demanded for N100, 000.00 –“
“What? My elder brother screamed
‘Yes! But I told him it’s too much”.
I was speechless and horrified at this act of extortion coming from the same people that are supposed to be protecting the citizenry.
“After much bargaining, he agreed to take N20, 000.00 which I gave him. You would recall when I went into the house; it was to get the money.”
we were all silent, lost in individual thoughts. I was amazed at the police force but why should I wonder, after all bus conductors have been killed for just seventy naira. Every man in black that is sent out on assignment must come back and make returns to the ogas at the top and DSP Onuoha was just acting out the police manual on corruption.
“Our police can be described in two words brutal and corrupt”, I remarked.
“Where do we go from here? “ Kami asked
“Tough question but your guess is as good as mine,” I replied.
Corruption in high places, I hissed. Who will deliver Nigeria from corruption? This hydra headed monster that has invaded and eaten deep into our society. It has also turned men into animals who are now willing to destroy, kill and maim like the devil to make money at all cost. Police is your friend, the slogan says but today I discovered that slogan to be misleading and false. Indeed money makes the difference in Nigeria and the police are not an exception.
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Mike Effa lives in Lagos and works as a principal admin officer with the Nig Natural Medicine Devt Agency.