It thought the news had been, for some months now, that the Inspector General of Police had said no to police road blocks in the country. This law has not taken effect in Festac, a suburb of Lagos. Or could it be that Festac is not a part of Nigeria? I still don’t understand it, my people.
Any regular visitor to Festac/Amuwo Odofin will know that Apple Junction is notoriously a hotspot for uniformed and non-uniformed police officers to stop vehicles at will, doing what they call ‘stop an search,’ mostly from 7am to early noon, and to resurface at 8pm.
Last week Wednesday was no exception. I was in a car with my friend when the car ahead of us was stopped at Apple Junction. Since we were not the ones the officer beckoned on to stop, we tried to move to the next lane. Suddenly, the officer jumped in front of our car.
My friend and I were shock in utter disbelief at the officer’s attitude. My friend got out of the car to asked him when it had become a crime to move to another lane when the car ahead you was stopped. The officer continued to shout as he asked him to open the car boot, which my friend did. When he saw the boot filled with newspaper and shoes, he asked him to open the rear door. He also did. The officer found nothing incriminating. Thereafter, he asked for the car papers realising he had lost the battle, and shouted at a female officer to take us to the station.
At this stage, he kept shouting at us and asking why must we challenge his authority. “I will show you people today,” he said, as he asked the female police officer to lead us to the Festac Police Station.
At this point, I became furious. The female officer asked me to leave the front seat where I was seated to move to the back. “Why should I do that?” I asked. A police officer doesn’t seat at the back, she replied.
“I don’t understand?”
“You will have to go to the back.”
“Which law in Nigeria says you must seat in front of the car?
“Madam, a police officer does not seat at the rear.”
“I still won’t take that. I need you to explain to me why it is legal for you to arrest me for no reason and now you want to seat in front of the car. I still don’t get it.”
“See her dey speak oyinbo,” cut in the officer who arrested us. “What is your qualification?”
“I have a Phd. What is yours?”
Apparently, the he was at loss because he wasn’t expecting that kind of response from me.
This experience got me thinking at the kind of police force we have in the country. How can the police that I have been made to believe is my friend turned out to be the one harassing me? They are making me feel unsafe, almost intimidating citizens on a daily basis. When I was in danger of an area boy attack last week, they were nowhere to be found. Yet, early in the morning everyday they mount a road block at Apple Junction searching for what is not missing. On a Wednesday morning when I was supposed to resume at work, they stopped me for no reason delaying me from getting to work on time.
I begin to wonder if we can really entrust our lives and belongings to the police. If the police that is supposed to be my friend turns out to be my number one enemy, then there is a problem.
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