My brother is a killer at 17!
But he is not really killer; the boy can’t even kill a rat, he would run at the sight of one and scream, ‘mummy.’ But today, he has killed a woman he didn’t even know, had never even spoken to, a woman we only heard wass pregnant with her first child! And it was all an accident.
At just 17, my brother was an introvert; all he did was book and tv, he never went out. Most of our neighbours didn’t even know him as well as they know us because they hardly saw him outside except when light goes out and he is forced to come out for breeze.
You see, he was that quiet a kid and it was because he was such a quiet child that my mother decided he had stayed too much indoors, she wanted him out more often; she would say, you are a man, “Men should go out and provide for their family.”a refrence to our dad, who left us empty…you know.
Anyway, so when she was going to the market that day, she called him to join us. I was usually the one who followed my mother on such errands. I knew the shops she bought stuff from, I knew how to bargain, I knew what to buy…you know but that day, I wanted to watch football and begged my mother to let my brother go with her but mummy said no, she said she wanted my brother to see how I handled things at the market…that was how we all went.
My mother drove a small car, Mitsubishi Galant that our dad had left behind; the car was always giving us problems; it was always mechanic today, mechanic tomorrow but because my mother didn’t have money to replace it, it was better than struggling with for seats in public transports.
We went to the market and parked at the usual place; now, where we park, we usually tipped some area boys about N100, even though that place isn’t the parking space we ought to park. But you know it’s a market, very rowdy, very busy, so people often blocked those who parked in the market place; and you could be there for hours, waiting for the person to come and move their cars; so it was best to park a few streets away from the market so that you can leave as soon as you finish your business; area boys would collect their fees and disappear.
That was what we did; we parked on a street not too far from the market.
We were almost done shopping when we heard that task force people were towing vehicles parked along the streets. That day, my mother asked my brother to hurry to the car with some items and also see whether the task force officials were entering streets and towing vehicles…
My brother had the key of course because he was meant to drop off some items we had already bought.
So he got there, saw that task force were almost getting to our car and decided to move the car further down the street…a mistake.
Now, I had been teaching him to drive for some two years now but beyond moving forward and backwards, he had never driven on any road before. He could start the car and drive down the street slowly, he could park it too but he has never hit a main road…
So he wanted to just slowly turn and drive further down the street to prevent task force from towing our car…
He had turned all right but maybe he panicked when he saw task force approaching, maybe he miscalculated…I will never know, as he was about to park into a spot, he must have accelerated instead of applying his brakes…he just rammed into a pregnant woman and slammed her to the ground!
From accounts of people we met there, they said they were telling him to slow down but that he just slammed the woman down and instead of stopping, he was still moving on…he swerved after slamming into her but he wasn’t applying his brakes, he was accelerating instead…na panic!
Of course, you know our people, they immediately blocked the car from ‘escaping,’ and dragged my brother out of it.
He couldn’t have wanted to run, the way the car was parked when we got to the street, he couldn’t have wanted to “escape.”
They dragged my brother out of the car and beat him so much, I couldn’t even recognize him when we got there…it was the task force people who rescued him.
My mother just fainted when she saw her son.
The woman my brother hit was taken to the hospital nearby and we paid immediately. She was badly injured, her arm and one leg were broken…and the police had also become involved. The task force contacted the police nearby.
My brother was in tears, through out, he just kept mumbling, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know…,” he was arrested, of course. He has been in police detention since then…two years running now.
Because the woman later died, when she was told she lost her baby, she just gave up. We were told she had been looking for a child for years; we kept praying she would survive; she would live…she didn’t.
So it became a case for the state. Though we had gone to the woman’s house to plead with the family; they were at first angry, saying my brother was careless but when they heard he was just 17, hardly goes out, didn’t want my mother, a single parent to be distressed because of task force, panicked when he heard people screaming at him…they eventually piped down…but the damage was already done!
My mother has never forgiven herself, she repeats over and over again, “I should have just left him at home, I should have just allowed him to stay at home!”
But the woman died; so even though her family said, ‘ok, we leave everything to God,’ the state said, ‘everything was now in their hands.’ The woman died. My bother will be 19 in a few days; he had never stolen before, never been rude to his elders, he was a good boy but he will never be the same again!
If he ever leaves prison, he will never drive, never be young again and may never even talk…he doesn’t say anything when we visit. He just stares ahead, saying nothing.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)