By Osa Mbonu
I followed the truckload of armed policemen to the raid of Kristobell Junior Academy and arrest of Mr. and Mrs. Onuoha because the police needed me to show them the school. The commissioner had sent an inspector from his office to monitor the raid.
The inspector and I left Oduduwa, GRA, Ikeja that morning and headed to Ojo Police Station. While we were on our way the inspector was in constant communication with the DPO of Ojo, via his walkie-talkie (there was no GSM then) to ensure that the truck, the arms, and the men needed for the operation were ready.
We got to Ojo around noon. I was taken aback when I saw the number of armed policemen sitting inside the open truck we were going to use. I turned to the inspector who had become friendly with me and said: “Do we need this number of men and arms?”
“We are working according to the commissioner’s instruction. You mention in your petition that the man keeps tugs, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did, and it’s true.”
“Good. That’s why we are not taking chances. We don’t want those hoodlums to lynch our men,” said the inspector.
They opened the front door of the truck for me and hopped in. We drove quietly to Agboroko. As we got close to the school the siren started blasting. The driver of the truck swung on the road in a zig-zag form. People ran out of their homes, workshops and offices and stood by the side of the road watching. I saw those mechanics and panel beaters who had handed me to those hoodlums that day I was attacked.
They all trouped out of their workshops and stood at a distance watching. They didn’t see me until the truck screeched to a stop in front of the school and the armed men jumped down in a commando style and took positions around the school, their riffles menacingly pointing in all directions.
There was commotion and confusions all over the school. The teachers ran out of their classrooms followed by some pupils. But the teachers chased the pupils back to their classrooms. Nobody knew what it was all about until they saw me.
The inspector nodded his head at me and I came down and led the way, followed by another set of armed men brandishing their riffles. I led them straight to the bookshop which doubled as Mrs. Onuoha’s office. She was there.
“This is Mrs. Onuoha,” I said to the inspector, pointing at the woman. She looked as if she swallowed a live bee.
“Madam, we are here on the instructions of the state commissioner of police to search this bookshop,” the inspector informed her.
Beside her table were two big cartons of books. One of them had just been opened. I went there and picked up a copy of the books inside. It was my pirated book with Kristobell Junior Academy logo boldly printed on the cover, exactly the same copy I had locked away in my box.
“These are my pirated books,” I said.
The inspector gestured to his men and they lifted the cartons out to the truck. I knew there were many copies of the original book which I had supplied to the bookshop but which Mr. and Mrs. Onuoha has stopped selling since they printed their own pirated copies.
Carefully, we searched the bookshop and found the original copies still wrapped in brown papers and tucked away in one corner of a little bookshelf inside the room. We took that too.
At that moment Mr. Onuoha came into the bookshop. “This is Mr. Onuoha,” I identified him to the inspector.
He took the inspector to a corner and started whispering to him. I just stood there watching him. I didn’t have to be privy to their conversation to know that he was making offers to the inspector. I knew Mr. Onuoha so thoroughly. He had always believed he could bribe his way out of any problem. But that day, he was in for a new experience.
I saw his face contorted in pain as the inspector said to him: “Sir, you and madam have to follow us to the police station.”
“Arrest?” Mrs. Onuoha said, turning to her husband.
“OK. We will come when the school dismisses,” Mr. Onuoha said.
“No sir. I have instruction to bring you two immediately. Let’s go.”
When we came outside the street was filled with people. Mr. & Mrs. Onuoha were helped into the truck. I returned to the front seat, and armed men clambered aboard. The truck screeched and swerved away with it siren blaring.
From where I sat, I scanned the faces in the crowd, hoping I could spot any of those tugs who Mr. Onuoha had sent to attack me that day, but I didn’t. I was sure they would be miles away from that environment.
It was like something people watched in the movie happening live. See you next week by God’s grace.