“IF YOU HAD TOLD US WHOM YOU WERE…”
Sanni Kay Yusuf
As soon as the day broke – immediately after Salah – we set out to visit a hospitalized friend. We were all dressed down since our destination was within the neighborhood. Little had we zoomed than we encountered some black-clothed men of the Nigeria police. They were there making money out of the stay-at-home order. Commercial buses which must have settled with a token were seen having a hitch-free trip.
We were stopped and accosted with no recourse to explanation. As law-abiding citizens, we complied, even though the lionic, tigeric vituperations of those officers spoke irresponsible of their statuses. Then approached an aggressive stooge who apparently wanted to impress his boss. He opened the door, forcefully: “come down! Are you mad?” he blurted out so ruthlessly, trying to rough-handle one of us. “I am not mad, officer. And by the way, are you supposed to touch me with the COVID-19 situation in the country? Do you want to have me infected?” replied the one abused.
At that point, I knew we were in for a great deal of show. My people were angered and I could not hold them anymore. In no distant time, one thing led to another, and I being the team-lead got criminalized – handled by three men in black. Heavy in outlook but feeble in weight. I doubt if they could ever carry a wool. This got the attention of onlookers and video coverage set in. At that juncture, they knew they were in trouble. But fortunately for them, a high-ranking officer driving by stopped to arbitrate. He tried subduing me but I was rather found too confident to be intimidated. Chronologically, I gave the true account of what transpired. So he ruled that we all head to the police station, but definitely not in their dirty, tattered, battered van.
We journeyed in our car and they moved behind us. The news had reached a few bigwigs: that imam had been arrested. We got to the station and found the roaring lions so calm like she-goats. What could have happened? They had been radioed from the top that the snake’s tail had been legged. My narration to Mr DPO got him dazed to speechlessness. “Go get their statements,” he ordered.
The IPO got a pen and was writing for me. “But I can write myself,” I protested. She fled up as though I had pinched her with a pin. “E gba mi, ain’t I literate enough to write for myself,” I soliloquized. In anger, she handed me the pen and the paper. I wanted to start afresh, she said I should continue where she stopped. “But this is not my handwriting,” I retorted. Although she hadn’t written anything incriminating, but I wanted to be completely free from their suppression, hence my refusal.
An officer came in to call on me and my ever-gallant disciples. “Your attention is required by the DPO,” he said. I entered, and seated therein were some bigwigs who had come to arbitrate in the matter. “What happened, imam?” they asked, worried. The ring leader of the criminal-officers never allowed me a chance to give my account of the sorry show. Honestly, that man could lie for Africa. He deserved an unprecedented accolade in Falsification and Fabrication. When I signalled against his cooked stories, he said: “Make I no see tomorrow if I lie.” And inwardly I echoed a resounding ‘aameeeeeen’! I was shocked that he could even curse himself to substantiate his lies. Since then I began to fear the police. I can imagine the number of innocent souls who may have languished in jail for offences not committed.
But for the video which got them scared, they might have got us roped in. How can anyone prove to me that those men in black (not all though, maybe a scanty few among them) aren’t dark in their minds? Who will convince me that they are friends of the people?
In the long run, we settled for a ceasefire asking for an assurance that the videos would not go on social media. So, police dey fear video? Interesting! Now you know their weak point.
Later on, I was told they said they wouldn’t have treated us as such if I had introduced myself as imam. Imagine the trash! So the only thing that can earn one respect from the police is to be a “somebody”. Rubbish ad infinitum!