Posted by By Steve Nwosu on
Sometime last week, I almost ran over a policeman on my way from work. The policeman.....
Sometime last week, I almost ran over a policeman on my way from work. The policeman had mindlessly run into the path of my speeding vehicle in his desperation to stop one smart okadaman.
It was at a regular checkpoint on my route and, I guess, the okadaman, who was riding on the passenger side of my car, wanted to take advantage of their not stopping me, and the cover provided by my car, to sneak through the checkpoint – saving himself the N20 roja. I was less than 10 metres to the spot the policeman was standing and transacting business with another okadaman on the left hand side of the road when the officer suddenly sighted the smart okadaman and made an instant dash across the road.
In my panic, I slammed on the brakes, screeched and almost veered off the road. But all the death-wish policeman could offer was: “You no dey see road?” as he wrestled the motorcycle to a stop.
But rather than apologise for the officer’s indiscretion, his gun-wielding colleague, who should have seen what happened from his position further down the road, immediately jumped onto the road, pointing his rifle at the car – his crude way of saying ‘stop’. He swaggered up to me and ordered in a barrage: "Come down. Make I see ya paper. Open ya boot. Why you no wan stop? You wan kill policeman?”
I knew he knew that his colleague had no business with me and had only jumped in my path in the senseless desperation not to miss N20. But he had to make me feel guilty for “refusing to stop for police a check.”
It was well past 10pm. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. And I have been in this country long enough to know what happens to people who “refuse to stop” at police checkpoints. So, I immediately wizened up. I perished the idea of reasoning with him and his daft colleague (who, by that time, had already ignored us and was busy harassing the okadaman for apparently trying to play smart and avoid “settling”).
I gave the second policeman the lame excuse that I had a faulty brake and that I did not know it was me that “the other oga” (Yes, because they were the ogas in this middle of nowhere) was trying to stop and apologised profusely. Only a fool, they say, argues with a man with a gun – worse when the man that has the gun is also drunk. When the tipsy officer found out that, like all cowards, my tail was effectively tucked between my hind legs, he waved me on. "Common, go!" he barked. And I replied: “Thank you, sir". The Yoruba people say something about not calling malu ‘brother’ simply because we want to eat meat. But I suspect the person that originated that proverb never met a drunk policeman who also has a gun.
But that is not the end of the story. It was when I sought to make a formal complaint on the incident to the local police formation the following day that the real story unfolded. I discovered that there was no official checkpoint at that vicinity as at the time I was stopped. Notwithstanding the fact that the presence of policemen there all the time truly gives residents and business owners in the area some sense of security, the spot is not actually one of those places the police authorities have identified as black spots – of crime – and therefore, require round the clock monitoring.
According to my findings, the only policemen who had any reason to be around that area, as at the time I was stopped, were only the two policemen attached to a nearby warehouse to keep watch.
And as it turned out, it was indeed those two policemen that mounted the road-block on that fateful night. That also explained why they were only two and had no patrol vehicle with them.
Simply put, they had abandoned the entrance of the warehouse where they were supposed to be mounting sentry, walked some 80 metres down the road and erected a road-block. There, they carefully avoid the cars and stop only okada (who seem to be easier prey) and extort money from the riders to make extra quid. While they are at it, the warehouse they are supposed to be guarding and the goods therein, are left at the mercy of the same elements the policemen were deployed there to checkmate in the first instance.
They would be away at their illegal duty post when havoc would be wreaked on their principal assignment. I find it hard to link the two incidents. But every time I try to make sense of last Thursday’s gruesome murder of Engineer Funso Williams in Lagos, the picture of the policemen I see at that junction every time I am going home keeps replaying in my mind. We are told that two policemen were on guard duty at the home of the slain PDP gubernatorial aspirant. So where were they when somebody went behind them to kill the man they were supposed to be guarding? If the theory that the assailants entered through the roof is true, how come there was no noise heard as they landed on the roof? How come nobody in the compound heard ceiling materials shattering? How come nobody heard any scuffles?
Yes, Williams could have been killed by anybody – from AD to PDP, through all the other members of the 30 or so political parties.
From journalists, to business associates, friends, enemies, family or he could have even killed himself – but some people were in position to either stop it or, at least, witness it. But they just failed the politician – and, by implication, the rest of us. It was the same way they failed us on Bola Ige, choosing to go and eat when the messenger of death was rapping on the door. I don’t want to talk about Marshal Harry. But I do remember that in the case of the late Chief A.K. Dikibo, the police orderly was sitting in the same car with him when assassins, immediately dismissed as “armed robbers”, blew off a generous chunk of the PDP chieftain’s skull.
Now one thing runs through the tragic deaths of Ige, Marshal, Dikibo and Williams: All the victims had police protection. So, the question to ask is: What is your police protection really worth?
Funso Williams might be the wrong person to use to illustrate this. But his death is a testimony to how the rich and influential invest so much in their personal security and yet death comes to them so cheaply. It revalidates the fact that the best security we can give to ourselves is to do things properly, equitably and justly. If we deny people their freedoms, their rights, their privileges and their fair share of the resources the good lord has so generously lavished on our country, not even the fiercest security cordon on the face of the earth can guarantee our own safety.
Funso Williams might not be guilty of any of these. But his death is a sure reminder that we ought to be doing the right things at every point in time. For, if this happens to good men, only the heavens know what would happen to bad men.
But even that, is still no justification to kill anybody - which, naturally, takes me to three nagging phrases that have refused to go away: Nest of killers! Blood-thirsty regime! Evil cult! Of course, none of these phrases is original to me. But from Wole Soyinka, Orji Uzor Kalu, Audu Ogbeh and many other prominent individuals, these same phrases have occurred and re-occurred as Nigerians try, in vain, to make meaning of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the brand of governance it has hoisted on Nigeria for the past seven years.
And you can’t blame them. The signs are everywhere. Those who are in PDP feel it – ask Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Orji Uzor Kalu. Governor Joshua Dariye was also subjected to the same treatment. And that is not saying anything of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha who is yet to renounce his membership of PDP. Dead men don’t talk, so we won’t ask Dikibo.
Those who are not in PDP know it – Ask Tinubu. You can even ask Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Those who have decamped from PDP are still feeling the heat wherever they go. Yes, Okadigbo and Marshal Harry might not be around to tell their own story. But Audu Ogbeh, Bashir Dalhatu or Abubakar Rimi will do. And that is not saying anything of Don Etiebet who has been oscillating like grandfather clock ever since he tasted PDP’s poisoned chalice.
Even those who escaped from other parties to join PDP – especially those who were invited to ‘come and eat’ - have suddenly discovered they have, in their desperation to flee from the heat of the frying pan, jumped into fire proper. Unfortunately, Bola Ige and Funso Williams are not here now to give details. But, I am sure, Adeseye Ogunlewe would have a story to tell. Wherever he stops, his compatriot Musiliu Obanikoro would take up from there.
But that is not saying that the PDP is behind all the killings that have been going on in the country – even though it is not also saying that it is not.
How do I mean? The armed robbers, the thugs, the police and even the almajiris are all either PDP or offshoots of PDP. After all, what do Aba residents call the armed robbers who daily hold the town by the jugular? PDP Boy! To which party does NARTO, said to be behind the mayhem in Onitsha and Anambra State as a whole, belong? PDP! Who is their godfather? I no know book o!
I am told that constitutionally, the INEC chairman - whose body usually endorses all the electoral ‘unendorsables’ and kick-starts the crises - is supposed to belong to a political party. Now, who out there thinks that the INEC chairman belongs to ANPP? Or AD? Or ACD? I am not seeing any hands up.
Now, without state police and with the IG sometimes confirmed before his name is sent to the National Assembly for screening, I also doubt that anybody is under the illusion that the police is not a PDP police. This is even more so when we consider how the force helped to deliver the 2003 landslide victory.
With Peter Odili scoring about two million votes in Rivers State and James Ibori and Alamieyeseigha comfortably winning in their respective states for the PDP, it is also not in doubt as to which party the Niger Delta militants (the hostage takers, that is) belong. Now, who else has directly or indirectly killed more people in Nigeria in the last seven years than these organs?
Of course, we are not saying anything about the thousands of people who have either been starved to death, or pushed to an untimely death, by the scorched-earth policy the PDP government has packaged as ‘reform programme’.
If you did not get my drift in this piece, please, let’s keep a date next week, by which time, I pray and hope, my blood-blurred vision would have cleared.
Until then, stay safe and secure. Get police protection if you will. Mind you, I did not say OPC o!
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