Every Saturday and Sunday, my brother always goes to watch soccer at the open field in the area we live. He goes to watch but never played that’s because, he is a little slow…he was born like that…you know. Our mother had him when she was in her early 50s.
Kay, that’s his name didn’t really play soccer but you will think that he plays because he would be running around the field to help players catch the ball when it is kicked off the field. He enjoyed doing that. He would also arrange for pure water and drinks for players during half hour…it made him feel important!
So as usual, this Sunday, my brother went to the field to “play.” He often came back like 4 to 5 hours later, sweaty, smelly and in need of a bath. But my brother didn’t come home after 5 hours, we thought maybe he went to his friend’s house, he often did that.
I had a wedding to attend that Sunday…yes o, wedding on Sunday. So I went without really wondering about why my brother was not home when I left.
I was at the reception scooping hot jollof into my mouth when my phone rang; it was my brother and he was crying.
“What is the matter with you, Kay?”
He was talking but I couldn’t hear what he was saying because of all the noise the MC at the wedding was making. So I went outside to hear him.
“They said I stole a phone, they have beaten me like mad, they said they will kill me if I don’t bring back the phone, I don’t know anything about the phone…”
“Who beat you?”
“Whose phone was stolen?”
“Where are you?”
I was asking so many questions and my brother wasn’t even forthcoming. He was just crying…by the way, he is 20years old…just finished secondary school…I told you he is special.
When I asked, “Where are you?”
He said, “I don’t know where they took me…”
“Who are they? Give them the phone and let me speak to them!”
I heard a few slaps they landed on my brother and he screamed some more…
Finally one idiot spoke, “If you don’t drop money for the phone that your brother stole, he dies!”
“Die for phone? Who told you he stole the phone? Where is my brother?”
Drop N350k at the goal post of the field where your brother plays this evening and you will get your brother back! If you go to the police, you will never see your brother again!
I froze. In my mind, this was no case of robbery, it was a kidnap! In the middle of Lagos!
I almost wet my pants.
Then again, I thought, N350k was small change compared to what I knew kidnappers demanded, so maybe this wasn’t really a case of kidnap! These were mere hungry people.
So I began to negotiate. We settled for N250k.
“Please give me a few hours, I’ll get the money. Please don’t hurt my brother, you know he is kind of special…” they cut off the phone.
I called my brother again but his phone had been switched off. So I began to call friends and family for money. Yes I know N250k may sound like chicken change but I didn’t have it, all I had was about N100k plus max. Anyway, I got the money required and sent a text message, since the phone had been switched off.
A few hours later, around 7.30pm-ish. I got a call from my brother’s phone. Here’s a phone my brother hardly recharges. He never had credit…anyway. They called to ask if I had the money. I told them I did. We agreed to meet at the field, by the goal post.
I got there, it was dark, of course and there were area boys smoking weed in the corners, around bushes and shacks that lined the field.
You know, I was still dressed in my party clothes, I didn’t go home to change. So maybe they thought I was some rich guy or something. As I approached the middle of the field, like ghosts, they came around me and began to harass me, asking me if I had come to drop ritual at the field.
“You useless rich people…so you don come deliver ebo here, abi?”
I said, “Noo, I am not rich, sir and I haven’t come with any ritual…”
Before I knew it, I was surrounded by about five or six area boys heavy on weed…my heart was pounding. I was begging them, “ Bros, some people kidnapped my brother and told me to come here, that is why I am here, sir….” they didn’t let me finish, gbosa on my left ear!
“Did you bring the ransom?”
I literally saw stars!
“Check him, search him, he has brought ransom…”
As I doubled over, another one punched me on the left and said, “I will block your shit hole and create five more on your side!” Meaning he would stab me five times. “Please, egbon, I came here to meet the people that kidnapped my brother…”
By this time, my left ear wasn’t even hearing anything again. It was just ringing…
They began to roughen me up, they ransacked my pockets…they took my phone and the N250k in my pocket, my wrist watch and my shoes…they stripped me to my boxers.
I was begging them but they threatened to stab and kill me. They left me and told me to leave or they would remove my boxers.
I just sat in the dust crying…a grown man of 38 years!
Where would I get the money to give the other people who took my brother? I was still there crying when I saw a figure standing not too far…one of my brother’s captors, I guessed. He told me he saw what happened and that it was my own business about the stolen ransom. He demanded that I should go get them on their own N250k and they would change the place to drop it…
I begged again, I begged and begged…
He just walked away as I sat there on the field, what more would the area boys do to me? How would I be contacted since my phone was gone?
Where would I go to get another N250k? I was as broke as anything broke.
How would I get my brother out?
So I decided to go to the police…I didn’t tell them I had about the N250k that I was robbed of by area boys. I chose not to tell…you know how our men in black behave? I wrote a statement and dropped my brother’s phone number. They told me to keep reporting daily…
But I went to the field everyday, hoping for something.
Let’s just say my brother wandered back home three days after.
He was so broken, he couldn’t even tell me exactly what happened.
Who kidnapped you? He couldn’t say.
How did you get home? He couldn’t say.
All I was able to piece together was that one of the players had dropped his phone in his bag as he played ball. My brother as usual was the ball boy and the one who brought them their water and their clothes when they were done. The phone got missing and they decided my brother must have had a hand in it.
A boy with down syndrome who is only happy to help pick the ball will not steal anyone’s phone…his mind isn’t that developed to do such evil.
But who will explain that to these evil people?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)