In The Hands Of The Nigeria Police
It was sweepingly wet evening at Adebayo road in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. The rain had pulled dark clouds down in torrents of piercing water. It was customary of the rain to be violent at this time of year. It was April 15, 2009.
Kingsley having been indoors for very long, and starving, succumbed to the dictates of his belly, and took a walk down the road to the obtrusive corner where Mama Bimbo sold “Efo and Iyan”.
However, he did not get to appease his protesting stomach. On his way, he was pounced on, and merrily abused by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ado Ekiti.
Kingsley's offence was the rhythm of his gait. He walked too confident to be a law-abiding citizen. His strides sound the cymbals of a criminal.
At the police station where he had been treated to a smorgasbord of lowly torture, it got to his ears that there had been an assassination attempt on a prominent chief a day before, on the road he trudged on. It now made perfect sense to him. The police would look for any lamb to feed their wolf of irresponsibility and impotence. It is all a perfect cover for their gross inefficiency.
Under interrogation, Kingsley revealed in nervous gasps for breath that he was a corps member, and the head of the Legal Aid Community Development Service Group, (NYSC). He had to flash an identity card to prove that, and thank goodness, he had it on him. Afterwards, he was released without an apology.
“You dey lucky, we for don kill you sef, and even pour acid for your body”, an unrepentant policeman who gave him the most uncharitable blow said.
Kingsley being a lawyer left the police hovel with a firm determination to sue, and to write about his ordeal so as to get the authorities to structurally slither into garrotting police irresponsibility and abuse of power, but he did not, he was convinced by a family of traducers that it was bountiful waste of time. Again, time put soluble wool on the wound. It was in the past, he left it right there.
On the night of 29 January, 2014 at Awka where Kingsley now lived and worked, he was returning home crestfallen because of the defeat of Nigeria by Ghana in the African Nations Championship semi-final match. The entire ambience seemed complicit in grief; giving off sombre vibes and wailings.
Kingsley espied a tear-draining scene. A young man had been beaten to unconsciousness. His own blood watered him. It was a cold scene of lavish violence. Also, on the dreadful scene were fourteen young men in handcuffs bemoaning their unkind fate.
Kingsley in a surge of empathy stepped out of his car to the scene forged by violence. He went about like a good man asking questions. His “querulous” querying brought him an effusive outpouring of bone breaking beatings from men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Awka, the thespians of the show of violence.
Afterwards, he was taken to a cold, rotten cell along with the fourteen young men. The other young man who was beaten to unconsciousness died. They were all christened “armed robbers”. Kingsley's money and phone were “policepriated”.
By a flip of sacred coin, he was released after spending one hell-day in detention. The police got to know he was a lawyer, and that he had some weight at Awka.
The fate of the other boys dangled in a tenuous balance. They were nameless, and as such they could be “SARSRIZED”; that is, they could be neutralised without a wince of conscience.
Kingsley would still not press charges. It is a bountiful waste of time.
Kingsley's story is a splinter experience of many Nigerians in the hands of the Nigeria police. And in most cases, hapless Nigerians do nothing, not because they are emasculated of evidence, but because their feeble voices are too puny to be heard in the midst of thundering roars of oppression and corruption. The Nigerian system gives the pleasure of oppression to the strong, but visits the iniquity of decimation on the weak.
At least, what we can do is to raise our voices to a crescendo of resistance; speaking out against every form of police irresponsibility, abuse of power and brutality. We cannot subsist on a repast of police violence every day. We must strive to bring humanity and sanity into the system. Inasmuch as we seem impotent, we can use the potency of our voices; God will hear us, and then salvation will come to Israel.
Have you been in the hands of the Nigeria police? If you have been, then you know they are not your friend.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and poet.
He writes from Abuja.
Email:[email protected] 08167992075