The following day was a Saturday. I hadn’t been doing much of study lately, so I wanted to catch up on my books. My very good friend, Rhema, gave the idea that both of us should go and utilize the 9am-2:00pm open hours of the library. It tallied with my mission, so I concurred.
We walked from my Under G hostel, Mardel, through the numerous unnamed short-cuts that led to one of the many illegal entrances into the school. Our movement was a bit slow, and I was walking ahead of her at a lengthy pace.
“When would you ladies learn to do things fast and sharp? You always press the delay button all the time.” I complained bitterly.
“What is wrong with you, don’t you see I’m on heels?” she replied. “Do you want me to sprain my ankle?”
“Na me send you? You ladies and wahala; just walk faster.”
She managed herself well and walked a bit faster, but I was still ahead of her even though the space had reduced. We soon approached the senate building. It had just been repainted but I hadn’t noticed until now. It was the finest building in the school, and we, Ladokites, would always boast that it is the finest senate building in the country. Its unique round shaped structure usually amazes anyone seeing it for the first time, and they won’t spare any time in praising the architectural creativity behind it.
The sun was up in the east, and it shone its ultraviolet rays across the horizon. Some of the rays fell on the senate building, and it glowed as if it was laced with gems. It would be a nice background for a picture pose, I thought. I waited for Rhema to catch up, and when she did, I gave her my Techno phantom phone to snap me with the senate building in the background.
“Who is pressing the delay button now?” she asked rhetorically as she collected the phone from me, her heels making the ‘click, click, click’ sound as she moved backwards to get a good view.
She had snapped two pictures, but I wasn’t satisfied with the pose I was in, so I ordered another one.
Unknown to me, the senate building guards dressed in plain brown khaki uniforms were watching us as we snapped. I was already in my third pose, and Rhema just confirmed I would like it, when one guards arrived. His face was stony and red.
“Both of you are under arrest,” he barked.
“Arrest for what?” I asked, “I am a Ladokite, 200L PAC,” I added, bringing out my student identity card from my wallet.
“Keep your ID card; you show that to them when you get to the security post.”
“Security post, this is just getting funnier. What have we done wrong” Rhema blurted.
A Lautech security patrol pickup van steered into our position. It stopped near the guard, and its driver didn’t kill its engine.
“Enter,” the guard commanded, gesturing with his right hand to the back of the patrol pickup van.
We both complied and the patrol van moved towards the security post situated beside P/A mathematics department. Rhema and I were silent and we didn’t say a word to ourselves or the guard as the patrol van moved on towards the security post.
The guard who arrested us jumped down from the back of the patrol van immediately we got to the security post.
“Hey, both of you get down and follow me,” the guard roared as he began walking inside the security post.
We both compiled. Our faces were perplexed. What could we have possibly done wrong? I didn’t have the smallest idea on why we were arrested. I looked at Rhema; her face was completely warped up. Her lustrous eyes, small nose and mouth were squeezed together like a Chihuahua.
The security post was a small bungalow. It housed the chief security officer of Lautech’s office, a reception, and a small jail where violent offenders were restrained. There was a single door that opened to the receptionist office, and two windows at the front. The building was singing the tunes of ‘paint me’ as most of the brown and cream custom Lautech colours had already peeled off the wall.
“Both of you stand there,” the guard gesture to the dilapidated counter at the reception.
There was another guard there. He too was dressed in the brown and cream khaki uniform. He had his beret on, but that didn’t help much in hiding his oblong shaped head. The six tribal marks on his black coloured face were glaring like one who just fought a Tiger and escaped in one piece.
“Both of them were snapping pictures In the front of senate building,” the guard who arrested us reported. “Let me sign my witness papers so I can go back to my duty post.”
The guard who arrested us signed the documents the guard behind the counter gave him and left.
“Both of us, take,” the guard behind the counter said, giving us a blank A4 paper each. “Write the statement of event there.”
“Sir, I don’t understand all of this, what have we done wrong? Is snapping pictures at the senate building now a crime?” I blurted.
“Yes it is a crime, and both of you would get four hours jail time for it.”
“What,” I exclaimed
“Water,” the guard teased, “That is how you students would be doing, soon you are on internet doing all sorts of cyber-crimes and giving the school a bad name.”
I couldn’t really explain how disturbed I was as I wrote the statements, handed them to the guard, before we were placed in the jail after we had emptied our pockets and submitted our phones. The four hours we spent in the jail was the most meaningless time I had ever spent in my short twenty years of life. I couldn’t just imagined getting jailed for just snapping pictures in the front of the senate building. The whole school is surely going to hear this absurdity when the next edition of ‘The Beam’ is released next week, I planned.
The iron jail door swung open.
“Oya both of you come out. You are free to go,” the guard said, returning our properties to us.
Rhema and I stood up, collected the phones and other things, and then walked out of the security post quietly. I didn’t know why Rhema was extremely silent during the whole incident. She wasn’t like that. The Rhema I knew usually asked questions either logical or illogical from all the lecturers whenever they lectured us. I couldn’t really understand why she couldn’t enact her usual behaviour when it came to a real life incident.
Hardly had we walked down the road towards the FPAS, I saw my bosom friend, Tega. I knew him to have a mouth sharper than a mouse. He wore a transparent Dolce and Gabanna fashion eyeglasses on his long face and a Hausa traditional cap on his head. His blue stripped T-shirt was a good match with his wrangler jeans and blue sneakers.
“Sup, Evhoma, how you dey?” he greeted; his pidgin crisp and smooth like a Warri native. “Madam, I dey greet you too o,” he stretched out his hand to Rhema.
Rhema didn’t even look at him. She was still lost in her mood. Tega quickly saw this, so he added maturity to his reaction and he faced me.
“I dey o, my guy,” I replied. My voice laced with tinge of tiredness. I didn’t stop walking, so Tega walked with us as we talked.
“Haba, na where you dey come from?”
“O boy, see me see trouble o, it was these yeye guards that arrested us because we were snapping pictures in the front of senate building.” I lamented
“Ha, don’t you know it’s an offence?” Tega asked, switching his language to pure English.
“I never knew o. but it is absurd.”
“Yes, you are right. But it was Ladokites that forced the school to make such a weird law when a student once tried to sell the senate building.”
“Sell what!” I exclaimed.
“You know when it comes to ranking cyber-crime and money rituals perpetrators in Nigeria, Lautech no dey carry last.”
It came to my mind all of a sudden. The introduction for the article had just happen right in my eyes. My stay in the security post hasn’t been meaningless after all. I issued a smile on my face, and I looked at Rhema. Her face was still dull. She returned my gaze, and I winked my eyes. She issued a smile, and the dull elements of her face slowly rose to life like a ghost town inhaling the breath of life after so many years.
Fact: It is true that a student once tried to sell Lautech’s senate building. And I once knew of a case in which a student was arrested on a Saturday morning taking a picture pose with the senate building at the background.
To be continued…