The Nigerian populace has finally stood up in one voice to protest against the many atrocities of the Nigerian Police Force, specifically the SARS sect. There is no better time, not just to show solidarity, but tell my personal story of my Ordeal with the men that are supposed to protect but are preying on its citizen.
I’d been to a wedding ceremony earlier that warm Saturday and at around 9:45 PM I took a stroll to get roasted and specially prepared beef(Suya) from a vendor to cool the night off with garri and Chilled water.
I was dressed in a cardigan and a simple flip flop and smacking my lips at the sweet-smelling beef right in front of me. The next thing I heard was a malicious slap from behind. I can remember the last time I was slapped before the experience so it was rather strange. While I was still dazed, multiple slaps followed, got hit with a baton and was dragged into a police patrol van.
At first, I thought I was been kidnapped as everyone in the area scampered for safety. Their identity wasn’t far fetched however as they were in Nigerian Police uniforms. I couldn’t keep calm and kept asking, ” what’s my offense, where are we headed”? Not a single one of them gave a response. They just waited a little while, came back into the van, and drove roughly to their station opposite in Awolowo market Sagamu.
As soon as we drove into the station, I felt relieved knowing that it wasn’t at least a kidnap, its Nigerian Police doing what they do. As soon as we got down I was dragged into their cubicle. I was hoping to at least finally get interrogated and write some statements that would have exonerated me. I kept saying ” I’m an elementary school teacher of Origami”. No one seems interested. The next instruction was “take off your belt, submit your phones and go into the cell”Just to test the resolve of their inhumanity, I told them that I was asthmatic and enclosed space may trigger an attack. As if possessed by a demon, one of the policemen on hearing this to a baton on and hit me several times screaming ” You get Asthma, you go die here today” At that moment, I knew I was in for an adventure.
I was thrown in the cell with 3 other young men that were already there. One was a lottery merchant that was picked up in his shop with his terminal and generator, the other had evidence of a drug prescription he had to get from a pharmacy that night for his daughter who had a high fever. As time went on, they kept bringing in more random people. An old man that was riding on his bike home, another bike man who carried a Soldier was also brought in. The Soldier was immediately freed. The biker was however locked up.
At around 11:15 pm, 2 Nigerian Youth Corp members with ID cards and wearing their NYSC camp were brought in. All explanations fell on deaf ears as they just handcuff them in like criminals and locked them up with us. There was 1 bucket to pee and poo for everyone, no toilets, no water to clean up. If you were pressed you excrete it all in the cell with everyone there with you.
One of the Corp members that kept pleading and showing his ID card felt all of a sudden that he needed to attend to nature’s call.He asked to use the toilet and was told the bucket in a corner not so far away from me is his water closet. The young man pleaded to be allowed out or at least given a paper to clean up, the policeman just ignored and went on with their business.
When the young man couldn’t hold it any longer, he did the unthinkable. While we were all in the same cell, he pooped in the bucket and with nothing to clean up wore his trousers. We were all left wondering “when will this end?” Time seems to be still. Everything seemed to drag along. The man who was going to get drugs for his sick daughter kept crying and begging from the cell that the police allow him pick his wife’s call and tell her the state of things as his phone rang all night. They didn’t lift a finger
In the cell, there seems to be another compartment. My guess is, this was for persons charged for different crimes. We kept hearing their voices but never saw their faces as they bellowed at us ” Hope to say you carry our money come inside the cell, else you go die here today”.
In the morning, we were given our phones to start calling who we knew one after the other to grant us bail by payment. I gave my brother a call who in turn called someone the DPO that led the raid couldn’t say no to. He came to the cell,called my name and took me to his office while he remained on the phone with the person. He told who he was on phone with that I’m one of those boys that terrorize the town and that I was arrested in a bar at midnight smoking marijuana and was drunk. While he was conversing another Policeman in his office was stripping me of my clothes and looking for tattoos on my body or a piercing. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t find any. The DPO then told me that I was released.
I went back into the Awolowo Sagamu station to pick my phone and belt and the Policewoman on duty told me it wasn’t possible to just leave I had to drop some money. I told her I was released on the DPOs orders and she reluctantly gave me my back my possession. As I walked out, I heard a man conversing on the phone and the conversation went like ” Please sir find every means to come and bail Mr. A today. If he remains in that cell in for the next 24hrs he wouldn’t only be charged to court for a heinous crime but could be swapped with someone that has committed a great crime and has paid the police to be exonerated. I was rooted to the spot and left in awe. Its worth noting that, I met 3 others in the cell the night before. By morning we were 23.
I was lucky to meet one of the guys later after the experience and he told me he parted with N15,000 to be released. I love adventures. This however showed me the rottenness in the Police sector in Nigeria. I was really lucky but many young Nigerians paid with there lives. Remember there names; Kazeem Tiyamiyu(Remo Stars football player),Tina Ezekwe, Kolade Johnson, Mus’ab Sammani, Chibuike Daniel, Ogah Jumbo, Jimoh Isiaq just to name a few. Young Nigerians that paid the ultimate price from the menace of SARS and Nigerian Police brutality.
I love my country and will do anything in my capacity to contribute my quota to moving it forward. A lot needs to be reformed. The Leadership of Nigeria needs reform, so does the Army, Civil service, Finance, and the Police. The ones before us kept quiet and adapted to everything that was thrown at them. Well, guess what, we would not seat back! #ENDSARS now!
For my brothers and sisters that were killed unjustly. Origami Fist designed by Beth Johnson. Don’t blink, I folded it!