It was a sunny afternoon in the metropolist of Lagos , a city known as the city of hustling and bustling: the city that never sleeps.
There was quite a long queue at the BRT stand , hawkers were advertising their wares to passerbys and to some of us.
It got to my turn to get a ticket and the bus official told me in the usual Yoruba language “arghh ticket ti tan o” – tickets have been exhausted . I was angry, frustrated and bewildered I sat on one of seats at the bus stands thinking of what to do next.
All of a suddenly I heard a bus conductor shout ” ketu, ojota, palmgroove, onipan wole pelu change e” – enter with your change.
His voice jolted me from my confused thoughts, I struggled to enter the bus amidst the rushing and pushing apparently quite a number of us couldn’t get tickets too.
It was a smooth ride , no traffic till we got to ojota the driver was playing the popular abule song by Patoranking majority of us knew the lyrics and we sang along, this helped ease the tension most of us felt and in a matter of time there were lots of smiling faces.
Little did we know that hell was about to break loose as we approached a police check point.
“Fun mi lowo” ( give me money ) the police officer said the conductor willingly obliged him and stretched forth a #100 note. He hassled about how little the amount was, the driver on the other hand pleaded with him to manage it as they haven’t made much sales today.
Suddenly we saw four hefty guys with the inscription “SARS” on their black polos: each guy was welding an Ak47 with shades and a terrifying countenance.
Wetin dey happen for there? the leader of the group asked , the driver was too shocked to mutter a word , his conductor replied nothing dey happen. The leader further ordered us all to come down from the vehicle , we all grudgingly obliged.
As we all came down he ordered his boys to search every one of us. They spotted a few of us with iPhones and those on dreads.
Nah yahoo boys una be one of his boys said: I replied No and I showed him my id card. They didn’t listen to any of our explanation and no sooner than later the boss ordered the others to leave except I and 5 others.
He said we would be taken to the station for questioning. We moved past a few streets till we got to a dark alley they stopped and ordered us to unlock our phones: they went further to check each person’s account balance.
After that we were threatened at gunpoint to make a transfer of #100,000 each which we did. A guy beside me tried to make a video recording of the whole shenanigans one of them saw him and fired a gunshot at him , like paper he fell to the ground with blood oozing out of his left chest. You have shot someone I shouted the boss came closer and said ” if you no shut up nah you go follow” I stayed mute and I became as cold as ice.
We were told to close our eyes and count 1-20 as they made their way out of the dark alley. It was our cry for help that attracted some passerby who came to our aid. We rushed the guy to the nearest private hospital which was just at the next street.
On getting to the accidents and emergency department , a nurse who looked like she would be be in her 50s examined the guy and told us they won’t be able to treat him because it was a gunshot wound : we would need a police report before they could treat him.
I and the other passengers explained our ordeal to them alas it fell on deaf ears.
The pandemonium between us and the nurse thickened, we were creating a scene at the section. I moved closer to him to explain the issue on ground to him only to find him gasping for breath hot tears rolled from his eyes , he managed to mutter the words ” tell my mom that I love her and took his last breathe.
I called out to him severally I got no response, I took out his phone luckily for me it didn’t require any password. I put a call through his mom: I introduced myself and dropped the bombshell on her, her screams on the phone made my eyes well up with tears. It felt like I was suffocating.
The nurse that attended to us on our arrival came close checked checked his pulse and pronounced him dead. They couldn’t treat him but they were quick to pronounce him dead.
I made my way to the police station closest to the hospital after I had regained my composure. To add insult to my injury I was told to make a deposit of #5,000 before I could file a report. Payment was made and I was given pen and paper to narrate my ordeal: when I was done the Dpo personally told me the SARS officials were just doing their job and that we were definitely yahoo guys that’s why one of us was shot.
I managed to walk out of the police station unaided as I was already feeling dizzy at this point. I found my way to a park where I sat and reflected on the events of the day. A promising young man had to meet his untimely death in the hands of those who sworn to protect human lives, a victim of a failed system.
I haven’t recovered from the trauma, I couldn’t even narrate my ordeal to anyone.
This is the situation of many who have been forced into silence, a voice never to be heard.
#Aeesh s pen
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