How the Nigerian Police Killed My Love for the Profession by Ajewole Bejide
When I was much younger in the late 80s and early 90s, I had a friend who took me and my sisters across the road every morning. This friend of our’s, a policeman was always there every morning to take us across and even give my youngest sister a coin for her to stop crying as she was always crying every morning.
This gesture made me want to be a policeman. A man who can give kids he does not even know their parents or where they stay money and always looking so clean in his black police uniform must be well paid. Well that was my impression back then.
During our end of year party in primary school, we will all gather to entertain our parents and other guests with songs and one of those songs was one we told them what we would love to become when we grow up.
My love for the Policeman who gives us money and takes us across the road made me want to be a policeman, I told parents including mine I would love to be a policeman. Dressed in a black jacket and trouser with a white tie, a cap and a black baton to match, I told the gathering how I would help maintain peace and order.
My mum kicked against this line of profession and told me I will be a doctor and not a policeman. She told me of how armed robbers kill policemen and scared me with a lot of stories including pointing to the fact that most policemen are ugly, dirty and potbellied!
I had a chance to really know the true nature of men of the Nigerian Police Force later in 2003 when I had an encounter with the black men with a black heart. This incident led to the assassination of my thoughts of ever becoming a policeman.
It was a Sunday morning and as usual, I skipped church. I decided to go to Ajibose street at Alfa Nla where my aunt’s friend has a photography and Video studio. On getting there, her apprentices were not around yet so I decided to shave my hair at a barber’s shop close by.
I waited for my turn and after shaving I settled down to watch some guys playing PS 2 in the same shop. While watching the PS 2 a guy came in with a black travelling bag, put the bag on the chair and asked the barber to shave his hair for him. While I was engrossed in the PS 2 I was watching and the barber still on the guy’s hair, some policemen came in with Ak47 and started screaming ‘What is in this bag?’ Another policeman answered, ‘Arms and ammunition, grenades, guns’ We were all rounded up and arrested.
The funniest thing was, the bag in question was not opened and not even taken along to the police station! We were all taken except the owner of the bag and the barber. I was even asked to take the PS 2 along as evidence of gambling!
We were taken to Isokoko police station where were kept at the back of the counter. We were told we were caught in possession of fire arms and also gambling. We were not spoken to after that and left there. Later, they moved us to an empty room where they asked that we removed our belts.
At that point, I started crying, begging that my uncle whom I stayed with will be expecting me back home. I pleaded with them to allow me go home and that I will never go watch PS 2 in my life again! They ignored me, went on with their normal duty.
Minutes later, the owner of the shop came in company of a guy whose father was a police officer and together they secured our bail with 2000 Naira. We were released and you need to see my shame when we came out of the station and people starring at us.
I went home, took a shower and slept. I refused to go out throughout that day and even for some days afterwards. That’s it, my respect for the police dried up and I began to hate the men in black! I hated them so much that I stopped talking to a friend whose father was a policeman!
Recently, a policeman told me to apply and join the force and I told him ‘I’ll rather remain jobless than join the Nigerian police’ I wish I could turn back the hands of time to our end of year celebrations in school and tell parents that I’ll never be a policeman as I was a misguided boy who wasn’t capable of thinking straight in those days!
Ajewole Bejide is a detrabilized Nigerian and a firm believer in one Nigeria. Follow him on twitter @Da_Megadon
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