“Oga give me my change.” I said to the keke driver, whose face seemed to have been redesigned by scars and bruises. Progenies of a fight I guess.
“Which kind change?” he roared back, looking at me with the edge of his eyes.
Before I could say Jack, the keke zoomed off.
“Jesu! (Jesus) this man has left with my twenty naira oh. Is keke from CKC to Dopemu under-bridge not thirty naira?” I said to myself.
Something seemed to be pushing me to run after the man and collect my change, all these keke drivers, they seem to want trouble – only if he knew I was trouble itself. I didn’t heed to the push because the first mini scene of ‘give me my change’ had already attracted some unsolicited eyes. I can’t afford to create a mega scene, not with the new landlord waiting for me.
I just comported myself, straightened my head, and started walking to the Dopemu Bridge. I must pay for the new apartment today, before 5pm. Heaven knows I had only sixty naira on me – thirty naira to, and thirty fro – I had already done the calculation, I didn’t study economics for nothing. So you see why I was initially pushed to chase that useless keke driver?
“Nevertheless, since I am going to the ATM, I’ll get more cash to pay fro, I just hope the ATM here dispenses cash.” I soliloquized to myself as I scurried to the bridge.
But. Something hit me.
Why don’t you just cross the express? It’s faster!
“Right?” I raised my brow and turned like a soldier on command.
I walked back to the express. It wasn’t quite busy with cars speeding. So I did it. Crossed the first, jumped over the concrete pavement in the middle, and crossed the second.
Voila! I saved myself harrowing minutes of walking on the bridge.
The few minutes of self-content was ephemeral. The breezes strolled past me ominously. I felt the warmth of somebody approaching, maybe it is a passerby.
Then maybe became a certainty to me when a harsh hand gripped my shirt and its sister gripped the neck of my short nicker.
I turned with a boiling blood, must be these Agberos (thugs). My blood melted down the same way it boiled when I saw the uniform of he that held me. Lemon green shirt and dark green trousers. KAI (Kick against Indiscipline).
“Jesu oba iyanu o!” (Merciful Jesus).
There and then I knew I was done for. I didn’t see that coming. He dragged me to their van and was pushing me in.
Haba, push me in kee? What did I do?
Ok, I know I have broken the law, I crossed the road, risking my life, and other’s. But he should be more civil and probably tell me what my charges are. Pushing me into a van like I am a thief or a hardened criminal is extreme.
“Mr. Man get into the van!” he ordered.
“No, no way. Tell me what I must do. I know I have committed, no doubt, what is my penalty? That’s what we should be talking about not get in the van.” I said mimicking the officer’s arrogance.
A huge crowd had formed around us.
“Enter the van now oga.”
“You too get wahala, enter.”
I raised up my left hand to my face and looked at the silver watch around my hand. 5:30pm.
Like a trance. My mood changed. Like a docile lamb.
I started begging the officers.
“Enter the van this man. If not, we are ready to waste your time for you.” One angry-faced officer barked at me.
Before he finished his statement, I pushed myself into the air-still Black Maria van. Maybe if I yield, they’ll free me.
In the van, I met other victims. A young man who was in Lagos for the first time to see his aunt, unknown to him that Lagos’ rules are like no other, he found himself in the van. Not to talk of the lady, who – according to her – crossed the road, running after a thug that snatched her handbag.
I felt like a bath of ice water was poured on me when I heard that we will be taken to their office for trial. Despite my pleading, the officers did not bend a hair. I sighed and dipped my hand into my right pocket to get my phone and call the landlord. No phone, I checked the left, the lower pocket, and the back ones. None had my phone. Just then did I realize that it must have fallen off its place in the course of the shenanigan with the first officer.
I gnashed my teeth and hit the van hard in frustration. ”These people have finished me.” I said indignantly.
A fellow in the fan saw my drama and offered his phone after I poured out my plights. I called the landlord and was told the house had been let out to another client whose cash was ready. My jaws dropped.
I rolled my sleeves and balanced well on the improvised seat. I was ready to take this case to any length.
“These people are becoming a nuisance to the society, I mean, how can you take pride in wasting people’s time? If they have done something wrong, why not make them make it right, than adding to their problems?” I blew out aloud. Directing to nobody in the van particularly.
The gentle man that offered his phone added resentfully: “the way they maltreat their victims is sickening. I was apprehended with that guy over there.” He pointed to the other end of the van, to a boy lying lifelessly. “They introduced several slaps on the boy and as if that wasn’t enough, dragged him into this van, I decided not to comply so I can see the end of this case.”
“Comply how?” I asked looking lost.
Another woman squatting close to me said: “they collected two thousand naira each from those that were apprehended with me, but those that cannot pay, like me.” She pointed to herself, as her face melted into a pitiable sight. : “are pushed into the van. And I doubt the money reaches the authorities” She concluded.
Having heard all these. I shook my head in disdain, biting my lower lips. I am ready to show this people real trouble. Let’s go to court. Citizens should not be treated like helpless animals. These people should stop manhandling and extorting the masses under the umbrella of ‘glorified KAI’.
AUTHOR: John Onah PHOTO CREDIT: nairaland.