Day: Monday November 24, 2014
Location: Iyaro junction, Benin City
The sun rays spat at my skin through the windscreen. The passengers of the bus beside my car were most likely dozing off because of my music. Someone once said my kind of songs are burial songs, slow, melancholic and sleep inducing. I didn’t care what they’ll be dreaming about, I sang along to Young and Beautiful by Lana Dey Rey as my eyes hid safely behind my dark stunning shades.
I looked from the side window trying to get a glimpse of the traffic light. The wait was seemingly becoming unending. Horns blared and cars began to move. Thankfully, I changed gear from park to drive.
The cars in front were moving like snails. The traffic light was counting down to red quickly. I pressed the horn button hard at the bus in my front. Several things I needed to do on time lest I get home at night.
Finally I was at the junction where the traffic light was positioned. I looked up, the count was on 1 and still green. Safe to drive past quickly. I sped on, crossed the road on time. I saw two uniform traffic officers, popularly referred to as Oshiomole police motioning for me to slow down. What could have gone wrong? I looked into the rear mirror. Nothing odd was happening behind me.
Why was I being asked to slowdown? It clicked! The ‘touts’ were going to tell me I beat the light. I locked my doors and rolled up my windscreen. I had already slowed down, thinking maybe I had hit something or my tire was flat.
I sped past them but a car came from no where. I rammed into his bumper. Damn it! My escape just got foiled. If not for that car I wouldn’t have come out. Little did I know the private car was theirs, ‘cus at the end of the day no one said anything about me fixing the bumper.
I came down to apologize to the vehicle owner. He was on plain clothes and seemed really concerned about his bumper.
That’s when the guys came over, accusing me of running a red light. What red light?! I maintained my stand that I did no such thing the several minutes we were at it.
I parked by the road side and they kept on talking, asking I settled them before I settled the driver whose bumper I ran into. I held my ground. When they realized I wasn’t going to bulge they entered my car and said we should go to their station. I remembered a colleague once said it’s never a good thing to go to their station.
But something in me just got ticked off. I mean, I wasn’t wrong. If I was maybe I would have mellowed and begged them, probably settled them. But this was damn wrong and plain injustice. I told them we should go to their station. Enroute the station they asked how much I had on me to settle them, I said I had just a thousand naira. They said that wouldn’t go anywhere that I should have say ten thousand and then some more to fix the guy’s bumper. (The guy was left behind).
I looked at them, ‘na me dis ones wan use chop mugu abi’? I told them we should go to the station, that I didn’t have that amount of money to give them. I called my boss at the office. He was well connected and knew people. I narrated every thing to him. He said he would meet me at their office.
If eyes could kill, they would have burnt to ashes. I called another contact in a top government office. He said when I get to the office I should call him and hand the phone over to their boss. What I knew for sure was they were not getting a dime from me and I was going to walk out of the station with my head held high.
I didn’t beg them or any of sorts. They said I was strong headed and shii. I told them we must get to their station since that’s what they had in their mind to do.
We got to the station and I was handed over to their boss. He asked what happened. I started narrating what happened, then they interrupted me. They said I beat the traffic light. Their boss declared I was guilty and my fine was twenty thousand naira. Just like that, I didn’t get to finish my statement. Another nincompoop. I didn’t waste any saliva explaining any further. If we were in a society where things actually work, a cctv would have been played to check if truly I beat the light but alas! We were in Nigeria need I not forget.
My boss called and said he was close by.
My contact at the government office called and spoke to the man. He mellowed after the call. Said to be very sure my contact was who he was, he should tell his direct boss to call him to release my car. I stood looking at him.
I waited some minutes and my boss came. Now it was my turn to show power. See, my boss was my hero that day. Not only did he come, he came with a surprise.
He came with a well armed Mopol seated at the front of the car. At first they didn’t want to open the gate but by the time the Mopol with his gun alighted from the vehicle, the gates were flung opened.
My head began to swell, boy did it swell!
The car drove into the station. I greeted my boss and he said I should take him straight to the man. You should have seen the way the other officers looked at us. Like mehn, this meat wey we go catch today big pass us o.
The shitty man who was forming stone cold for me all of a sudden became friendly. I felt like spitting in his face. In a minute I was free to go and not a dime was collected.
My contact from the government office called same minute and mehn, you should have seen the new look on the man’s face.
That’s how I was allowed to go and no mention was made of the guy whom I ran into his bumper. Obviously he was one of them whose role is to use his vehicle to block cars who try to escape them. One day he just mght get crushed to death.
Some day they’ll deal with a trouble maker who would go all the way to make sure the riff-raff are severely dealt with.
I drove out of the station as a don with my boss’ car following. The Mopol totally legitimized our street credibility. Hehehe…before I form superstar I won’t pretend I didn’t say a prayer or two to God to get me out of the mess while I awaited the arrival of my boss.
Then again, special thanks to my boss who actually left the office to come rescue me even when I was on leave and out of office. Shows how amazing a boss I have. Not many bosses would do that, I would know ‘cus I have worked under others before in the same organization.
Not everyone has pleasant story to say about the infamous ‘Oshiomole police’ men and not a few have parted with their hard earned money even when they were innocent. So I’m thankful that wasn’t my lot.
Moral of the story: if you don’t have connection in Nigeria, ‘O.Y.O’ is your case.