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The two sides of a nation

People constitute a nation, determine her state and image. This is my conviction based on personal experiences. And this may not change any time soon. My experiences on 9th June 2021 further affirmed this.

I woke up at exactly 3.40 am, thankful to God for the new day. I had a hot bath, went into my daily religious solemn time till 4.40 am. I dressed up, called my neighbour whom we set out together, and bid my wife who saw me to the gate goodbye at 5.05 am. Whether I am driving, taking public transport, or pulling a ride, this has been my daily routine since 2013.

I avoid the heavy traffic. I have at least 2 to 3 hours of free time to read, flesh up articles, jot new thoughts, plan my personal life, work, and how to respond to other issues at hand. I nap afterward as may be desired. Navigating the tough process of living, keeping soul and sanity together in Lagos State. Although when I went for my Masters of Law Programme at the University of Ibadan, Oyo state in 2016-2017, I did not follow the routine.

Ibadan is calm, relatively sane with a rural-urban mix, but the vibes of Lagos State drag you to its inner echelon. Insecurity and uncertainties of life, properties, and businesses are relatively the same in both cities.

My neighbour dropped me at Alagomeji bus stop, Yaba, Lagos State close to the poorly illuminated Bus Rapid Transport terminal. I crossed to the other side of the road. 5 feet from my workplace, a motorbike with three young men drove past and stopped in front of my workplace. Two of the men, one more well-built than the other, alighted from the bike and walked towards me. While the rider turned to the direction they had come from.

The tall heavily-built man, who wore a round neck long sleeve and an identity card around his neck, staggered towards me. I stepped aside from the pavement to give him the way. To my surprise, the other young man with dreads and black shorts pointed a gun at me. The other man pressed a long sharp object, a dagger, to the bone between my neck and back. They threatened to shoot and stab me. They dragged me to a corner of a building next to my workplace, searched, and removed all items on me. Thereafter, they asked me to lay on the floor.

In those split seconds, I remembered the cases I have read and heard of people robbed, shot, stabbed, and killed. I made a sudden silent prayer. The thoughts of my young daughter, son, and memories of every moment broke me to submission. I hoped in God. It could pass for a final wish, filled with hopes and regrets.

I walked to my office and narrated the incident to the security men at my workplace. A young male destitute joined us from across the road. He claimed he saw what happened but was incapacitated by his obvious broken and bandaged left leg. Thereafter, I sent an email to inform the Human Resources Manager, and the Company Secretary, who is my direct manager.

I decided to report my experience to the Nigerian Police Force, Adekunle Police Station, Yaba. Before I left the office, I confided in one of my colleagues that I would simply report to the Police for the records. I never expected any positive assistance. I was right.

At the police station, I met a relaxed policeman on the corridor seated with a long black gun on his laps. I told him I was robbed this morning. He pointed his right hand, and replied, ‘’Along the expressway, opposite the old railway entrance, just after Alagomeji Bus stop.” I concealed my shock and nodded in response. He appointed at an officer less than 2 metres from us. The officer had been listening to us. I handed over my handwritten report to him. The relaxed police officer stood up immediately and left.

The officer read the report, opened a random page in an exercise book for me to write my name, where the robbery occurred, and my phone numbers.

“Is that all you need from me?” I asked the officer. I expected him to acknowledge the report or give me a note. The pathetic unfortunate God-forsaken reckless police officer did not disappoint me. “You will put something down,” he said. I pretended not to understand. “What is that?” He replied without empathy, “Money!” “I told you I was robbed of everything. You are cursed, sir!” As I walked away, I added, “I pity your innocent children.”

As I walked back to the office, I sorted out in my head my next lines of actions, my routine going forward, prevention of future occurrence, the hopeless state of security in the country, and how similar events made some close friends leave their jobs. Some of them even relocated out of the country because of this.

When I returned to the office, the man with the bandaged leg walked up to me with another young man. They expressed their sympathy, lack of trust in the Nigerian Police and claimed that robbery is prevalent on that road but the Nigerian Police do nothing but raid innocent people, harmless loiters, and hawkers.

At my workplace, the love, concern, solidarity, and empathy from colleagues and management were overwhelming. Yewande Akomolade, a great manager, gave me some money. Emmanuel Banwuna tracked the phone and phone numbers. Esther Akpan made calls to customer care centres of all my banks and mobile network companies. Others shared smiles and hopes while I sorted out my emails and social media accounts. Afterward, I wrapped up my to-do list for the day and stepped out for the day’s fieldwork. It was my fourth month with the company.

The sad actions of the three armed robbers and the police officers whose names I deliberately withheld are one side of the nation, Nigeria. They do not represent the whole. They are not worthy of a newborn’s fear, regret, and pity. Without any regret, they deserve absolute condemnation and eradication through all legal and legitimate means.

The management, staff, and the two other men represent the good. They signify respect for human life, sanity, virtues, brotherhood, love, and the good side of a nation. They represent the ethos of society and humanity worthy of celebration and emulation. Their actions ignite hope, trust, and faith in the present and the future for the nation.

Hence, individually, and collectively, citizens must rise and do something to secure life, properties, and businesses where relevant institutions have failed. The thieves, kidnappers, hoodlums, and armed robbers live amongst us. If these few people have chosen you and me as their victims, waging a war against us. Nothing should stop us from taking the war to them too. By their actions, they asked for it. Their actions should not define us, and how we live. The reverse should be the case.

 

Adebayo Adekola is a Legal Practitioner and Head, Probate Services, Greenwich Registrars and Data Solutions Limited. You can reach him on 08165299774 and 08150373535.

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