Police brutality is so rampant in Nigeria such that almost everyone I know has a sad story to tell. But until these things happen to you or around you, they seem like fleshed up stories.
I was at Sabo at about 8pm on Monday evening. A bus was parked just before the bus stop, but it was parked behind policemen, and they didn’t say anything, so I got in.
The bus driver continued calling for passengers. A man and his son sat beside me. In front, were a middle aged man and a woman. After some minutes passed, one of the policemen realised the bus shouldn’t be parked where it was so he called the driver to move the bus away.
“Come carry this bus comot here now,” he told the bus driver, but the driver argued with him and continued calling passengers. Then he hit the bus with a baton, twice. The woman in front jumped, she wasn’t expecting it. Her hands flew to her chest; she was panting, ‘oga you want to kill me? Why you hit the bus like that?” She said to the policeman. The policeman replied,“ you see bus park here, you enter, na here dem dey enter bus?”
The woman still panting said, “but how you hit the bus now affect my chest, you wan kill me oga?” She said all these without raising her voice.
The policeman replied “ehn, if you wan die die, na you first die?”
The man sitting by the woman had had enough so he jumped in: “Oga why you go talk like that now? The way you hit the bus now too strong.”
“Who you dey follow talk? Mind your mouth o,” they started arguing. The policeman threatened to seize the bus, then the man said “seize am now, I go enter another one”.
Before I could blink two other policemen and a policewoman appeared. The woman who was on the heavy side, began to shout “na my oga you dey follow dey talk anyhow, oya come down.”
In an instant, the other policeman dragged the man out of the bus and held him by his shirt saying: “na station you dey go so. Wetin dey worry you? Who you dey follow dey talk?” They slapped him behind his head.
My mouth was open. Just like that, someone’s father, and husband, probably grand-father too. The woman who was sitting by him followed them, “if una wan arrest am, una go arrest me too, make una beat me too.” She held the hand of the policeman slapping the man. Good woman, because I was in shock and the man by me kept mute. When the driver saw what he had caused, he entered his bus, fired up the engine and drove off.
The man by me said “see how they have caused wahala for themselves, why dem no shut up.” The driver replied him, “that policeman na DPO o, why the man go dey insult am.” He added something in Yoruba and they all laughed. I was still blinking.
What is wrong with our security operatives? Policeman, soldier, naval officer, FRSC man, LASTMA man, bank security guard sef, immediately they wear uniform they become oppressive. They look for weak people to pounce on, people whose taxes pay their salaries and it is not as if they do their jobs well. We don’t trust them; we cannot have issues and call the police expecting help without hassles. There was a case of the police detaining a seven-year-old for murder that I read in The PUNCH. How do you detain a child for murder?
Days later I am still thinking about that man, I hope they didn’t roughen him up much, I hope they don’t throw him into a cell, because once he gets there its N5000 for bail and they say Police is your friend.