By Ebele Orakpo
The homeward journey from Oshodi to Iju-Ishaga was unbelievably smooth. Traffic was uncharacteristically light for a Wednesday evening in Lagos. A few commuters were a bit apprehensive, not wanting to believe that all was well.
Said a commuter by name, Stan: “Something must be wrong somewhere. There may be a serious hold-up somewhere that has made this area free.”
“There may be no traffic after all,” said Tony. And just as people were beginning to relax and enjoy the ride home, with some anticipating an early dinner, it happened. As the bus turned on to Oba Akran Avenue, there was a heavy traffic. Vehicles were moving bumper to bumper.
“Aha! I thought as much. Lagos gridlock-free at 6.30pm? Impossible! exclaimed Stan.
Said Nkiru: “I think the problem is at that portion of the road that is being reconstructed close to Ogba.” “Yes, that should be it,” Ken said in agreement. “I believe after that area, traffic should flow freely again.”
As it turned out, the problem was caused by policemen and women who were supposed to de-congest traffic. Rather, they were doing the exact opposite.
They had stopped a trailer right in the middle of the road so that vehicles on both sides of the road could not move, they were stuck. The police officers, about five in number were gathered around the trailer, and were forcing the driver’s door open. As the door opened, they dragged the man down and began to hit him from all sides.
“Useless people. What has he done to you,” screamed Kunle at the police. “Our friends indeed! Law enforcers my foot! Sneered Ogechi.
“He is not a robber for God’s sake, so why beat him like that?” another commuter, Ngozi, screamed.
It was like all hell was let loose as commuters from other vehicles, both commercial and private, started screaming on top of their voices, condemning the action of the police officers who conveniently turned deaf ears to the people.
“I am sure it is because of money. The man probably refused to part with the usual N100,” noted Tony.
“Rubbish! Is that why they want to kill him?”asked Uche.
“Of course! They have shot many people because of N20, not to talk of now that it has increased to N100,” stated Stan. “I swear, if not for the guns they carry, they would be getting killed every day by angry citizens,” stated Ken, eyes blazing with hatred. “I pity that guy. Their station is close by and if they succeed in dragging him into that place, he is as good as dead. They may even say he is an armed robber.”
“Exactly. Once your brother or friend joins the Police Force, just forget about him/her. It’s like there is something in that uniform that once they put it on, they become something else. They are a very bad lot. Only very few are good,” said Ade adding: “In fact, with what I suffered in their hands sometime ago, I have vowed that whenever robbers are around and the policemen try to hide, by pulling off their uniforms and mingling with the crowd, I will personally point them out to the robbers.”
“Just imagine the pains they are causing commuters. I’m sure this hold-up would have stretched to Ikeja by now,” stated Ben. “This cannot happen in civilised societies. Even if the man is an armed robber, must they kill him before trial? What kind of a society is this? Those in authority should call them to order,” stated Fred.
“Do you know why the new uniform has not been given to the junior officers? It is because they find it difficult to keep even the black uniform clean,” said Kunle. This was supposed to elicit laughter but not today. Everyone seemed to be very upset.
“Change of uniform is not the issue. They need to change their mind set,” noted Ngozi, adding: “It’s just like NEPA that got its name changed to PHCN which someone rightly said means: ‘Problem Has Changed Name’. This effectively thawed the tense atmosphere as people began to laugh.