In Lagos, it is a crime to be a young man.
As if being a Nigerian youth isn’t enough, you now have the misfortune of living in Lagos where the police like to drive their beat up Hilux trucks, roaming street after street, looking for one unfortunate boy who happens to be foolish enough to:
- Have a recent credit alert text in his phone, especially when the account balance is more than 50k.
- Be carrying a laptop without receipt in his bag( chimoo!)
- Have white friends on his Facebook chat list.
- And as if that’s not enough, some boys will now be carrying dada and tattoo on top. (like my foolish self)
See walking 40k bail money nau.
But seriously, it is not funny.
Boys are regularly frisked on the streets of Lagos. They are arrested and locked up because as the police like to say “you resemble armed robber with dis ya tattoo.” They will stop you, ask to check your bag. You will zip it open.
“Oya, oga see, I be student, na my handouts dey my bag.”
“Okay, oya show us your phone.”
“My phone?” you switch to English, hoping they will realize you are educated and you know your rights. “Why do you want to check my phone? It is illegal to do so.”
My brother, e go weak you when police open mouth and tell you with impeccable English, “My friend keep quiet and unlock the damn phone for us. You are not the only one who went to school.”
Omo, na dia you go know say no be ponmo dey inside tin of sardines.
You will give them your phone, knowing you have nothing to hide anyway. Right in your presence, they will open your Whatsapp and scan your messages. They will open your Facebook Messenger and carefully go through, looking for a white/unNigerian name.
Then they slip into your text message folder, their eyes shinning in the hopes of seeing a questionable bank alert message (if you recently received salary and they see the alert, tough luck, bro).
At the end of it all, if they can’t find anything to incriminate you with, they will go:
“Why are you wearing red cap? You no see white or even black cap buy? You must be doing yahoo plus. Oya enter Hilux follow us to the station.”
I am not trying to knock the police unnecessarily, but they seem to have lost the plot. The psyche of the Nigerian police seems wired to view the Nigerian young man as a possible criminal element. And I don’t think any state police holds that view more than the members of the Lagos police command. I have had too many friends arrested for the crime of being young, owning laptops, having dreads, sporting tattoos, wearing colours suspected to be affiliated to one particular cult group or the other. Being young, wild and free cannot happen in Nigeria
Nigerian police, how far na? Make una free boys, mbok!