As a Nigerian youth you walk the streets of Nigeria with the fear that one day you will encounter them. The men in uniform: black shirt, black trouser and black beret revealing their draconian eyes. The Almighty must have neglected Jimoh’s prayers as his heart skipped a beat when he saw them from a distance. One of them instructed the driver to park the car. Jimoh alighted as instructed.
“Yes? Introduce yourself” The first officer commanded.
Jimoh’s eyes were fixed on the gun in the left hand of the officer. Why does he have a gun? Why do they have guns? He looked at the officer’s shirt with FSARS boldly written on it.
“You no fit talk? You deaf?” The second officer’s question was accompanied with a slap to Jimoh’s face.
Jimoh’s covered his left cheek with his palm. Timorous of what might happen next, he swallowed the pain. “I am Jimoh Ibrahim. I am a student and a photographer. I am on my way to a photo shoot session with a client.”
“What is in your bag?” The first officer asked.
“My phone and wallet”
“Bring them out”
“Why? Do you need to check my ID card?”
“Young man, do not ask me stupid questions. Do as I say or you’ll regret it”
When dealing with an officer, do not fight for your right; they get offended. Those were the words Mrs Ibrahim preached to Jimoh often. Jimoh reluctantly surrendered his phone and wallet. He watched as their eyes brighten in amusement
“iPhone! As I see you I don sabi sey you be yahoo boy” the second officer screamed.
“You are mistaken. Owning an iPhone does not make me a fraudster. It was a gift from…”
“Shut up! Do you want to teach us our job? I’ve been an officer for fifteen years and I cannot afford such phone. Where did you get money to purchase an iPhone if not yahoo? There are no job opportunities for anyone in this country, owning an iPhone should be an ideal; something in your bucket list you shouldn’t possess till you kick the bucket.”
“Sir, my uncle resides in Canada, he sent the phone to me as a birthday gift. I am not a fraudster.”
“Wahala for who no get uncle for overseas” The officers laugh.
“This is what will happen now, we will take you to the ATM and you will withdraw all your money for us and we will let you go. My birthday is next week. Let me have something I will use to enjoy myself.” The first officer added.
“Is this a robbery? Why are you trying to extort me? I did not commit any offence. This is against my human right.”
“Do you think we are here to joke? You better behave yourself or else I will kill you here and nothing will happen. I stand under this hot sun every day and I earn less than forty thousand naira monthly. I have a wife and four children, how am I supposed to take care of with less than forty thousand naira monthly”
“That one na if dem quick pay us. We never collect last month salary.” The second officer added.
“I am sorry but I don’t have any money to give. We all are affected by the bad economy of the country. Owning an iPhone does not make me privileged.”
“If you provoke me, I will waste you here right now. They will just shout and tweet and that will be the end of it. Hash tags upon hash tags, what have they achieved?”
There it was. Jimoh saw it for the first time; draconian eyes of a trigger-happy officer. It was at this moment Jimoh understood his life was nothing to the officer. An officer of the law: one sworn to protect citizens, to keep law and order. They kill citizens and maintain chaos . Who do we run to in times of trouble? Who do we call? Jimoh was petrified as he felt death was close by. He stared at his feet as he wondered if it was the last time he would be above ground. His mind raced to his mother, a mother who anticipates her son’s return. How many mothers waited for days for their children who had lost their lives in the hands of these officers? How many mothers are waiting? How many more will wait? Jimoh raised his head back to reality, his lips trembled as he tried to speak “I…I only have ten thousand naira left in my account.”
“Do you think I am joking?” the officer screamed furiously as he hurriedly pointed the gun at Jimoh.
He will shoot. Jimoh’s pulse raced. His trembling body began to wobble. He closed his eyes, unprepared for the inevitable. Please God.
Jimoh shrieked to reality as he struggled to catch his breath. His body, cloaked with sweat. He winced as his head began to ache. He rushed to the bathroom to wash off the heat fed by the nightmare. Thirty minutes later his phone began to ring.
“Good morning Uncle Jide”
“Good morning Jimoh, I have decided to grant your wish. I will get you and iPhone as your birthday gift”
Jimoh had lost every ounce of excitement in him. Perhaps the Almighty heard his prayers. Perhaps He replied with the nightmare. Defiance will have great penalty.
“Uncle Jide, thank you. Please don’t buy me an iPhone. Please send the money to me so that I can buy a Tecno phone.”