So, sometime ago one Sunday, this story was published in the Vanguard – Police brutalise nursing mother, baby in Ekiti over refusal to “settle.”
They were beaten and detained because they refused to “settle.”
As usual, when policemen are involved in these sort of unsettling scenarios, which is often, police authorities defend their men. This time, the police said it was the nursing woman, who according to their story has a two-month-old baby, was strong enough to slap the policeman on duty and even tore his uniform.
Early that year in January, while on my way to work I saw a woman I buy stuff from daily in a heated argument with a policeman, but from where I stood checking if I should change my route or continue to her stand, I could see that she was in a position of power and the policeman was pleading.
My gist antenna stood up, so I quickened my step towards them. The gist was that oga policeman had been owing her some money for over a year. He stopped passing her route because of that, and today she literally don catch am, insisting he must pay her money today today.
I felt a bit sorry for the man though, he was really begging. I imagined it was a huge amount, maybe they did osusu, maybe he bought plenty stuff from her, but as it turned out it was N600. I felt a chill. A policeman dressed head to toe, with legal access to a gun does not have N600. So he dropped his phone and the charger with the woman promising to bring back the money during the day and reclaim his phone.
On a random day that February, someone really close to me called and asked me to send him N5,000. For what kwanu? I asked him?
The line went off, then he sent a text. “Please, I need to bail myself from police, I will explain later.” Now this person just returned home from university, he is level headed, could be a bit stubborn but he is not one to look for or be in a place of trouble. My only issue with him is how he dresses. I began to blame him, it must be because he cut his hair Mohawk style, or he was wearing one of those ragged jeans, bouncing around like a ‘big boy’ – as if any of that is reason for police to detain somebody. Red lights flashed in my head – all the people policemen have detained and they vanished into thin air, people who have been brutalised for no reason. I sent him the money, policemen drove him to an ATM stand to collect the money before letting them go. His offence? They saw ‘something’ on his phone. What did they see they would not say. Later, I will hear it is a normal practice, that young boys do not go about with their laptops or phones because police will simply accuse you of being a yahoo boy and that’s it.
We live in a country where we fear those who are supposed to protect us, from policemen to soldiers, air force men, naval ratings, NSCDC, even LASTMA officials. It is like immediately they put on their uniform, add the cap on top they transform into gods.
I will not end this piece without acknowledging that there are good military/force men in the country. The ones who keep us safe, fighting Boko Haram day and night, going after terror groups quietly, many policemen have died in the line of duty trying to protect us. We thank them, but biko, this oppression on civilians must stop.
Nigeria, as frustrating as it is now, is for all of us.