“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime” – Aristotle
“The thing is, I don’t even hate cops. To tell you the truth, I actually feel a little sorry for them” – Markus Zusak
“I am a strict materialist; but the police are brutal materialists” – Jack Williamson
I’ve always hated traveling on this route. These crooked cops always stay on this lonely road, delaying one’s trip. It is not as if their presence has reduced crime a bit…a rich trader got stabbed to death on this same road last week. I mean, come to think of it – how does one expect these fat and pot-bellied grandpas to chase after criminals? They’d fall face down after running a short distance. Phat Phucks!
One time, I was traveling through this route I hated. I had to be at my destination in an hour. I knew there were about 6 checkpoints on this road, manned by inglorious creatures called cops. So what did I do? I put my malfunctioning stethoscope on the dashboard, my white lab suit on the passenger’s seat and a bible on the dashboard also, beside the first item I mentioned. On the stereo, Amy Lee’s angelic voice sang ‘Tourniquet’ and her band backed up the lyrics with guitar riffs and psychedelic drum beats. I sang along while mimicking the pull of guitar strings with the steering. For a moment, I felt I was in heaven. I didn’t care about the police or if a street urchin would pull up by the car, gun in hand and demand for my wallet.
As I approached the first checkpoint, the stocky cop with a pot-belly raised his left hand up and shouted ‘STOP’. On his right hand was an old AK-47. I guessed there wouldn’t be more than one bullet in it. I applied the brakes and greeted the poor soul:
“Goodaf’noon Of’cer, how work?” I asked
“Work don dey as e go dey. Clear well first”, he retorted with a mean face.
I cleared by the roadside and he beckoned on me to alight from the car. Na wa o, this man really get time o.
“Where you dey go? Who you be? Who get the car? Whey your licence?” he asked all at once.
“Of’cer, which one I go answer first now? Ok, I be medical doctor. Na me get the car and I dey go Gboko”, I replied.
“You be doctor? But you no resemble doctor na. This your face go pursue the whole patients from clinic. And this your bear-bear eh. You sure say you no be boko haram boy”, he said while smiling. “Anyway, anything for us?”
I knew that was where it would end. But ever since I got arrested by the police in 2003, I swore I would never give them any cash again. Instead I go give ekelebe money, make I chop fowl nyash.
“Of’cer, dem never pay me salary since o. I no even carry any money with me”, I replied.
“Na that one be the problem na. You no go comot from here o if you no drop. See as we dey under the sun since, dey protect una lives, you dey tell me say dem never pay you salary. Your own better sef. I never see salary since last 2 years. So Doc, drop something for us make you begin go. Unless, you go dey here do the police work with us”, he said bluntly.
I wanted to shout at him and make him realize that his job was not to collect money from passengers. But I promptly realized that this was Naija. If I shout too much, the guy fit dash me that single bullet inside belle, claim say I be terrorist. After about 20minutes of complaining that I didn’t have cash, I eventually brought out a 100 naira note and handed it over to the devil. All of a sudden, his countenance changed from that of a visibly angry pig to a happy officer that called me his friend. He then asked me to leave.
Before I reached my destination, I went through the same rigours at three other checkpoints. At the last one, I eventually told the officer bluntly that I wouldn’t give him any money. I waited patiently for what would happen. I was watching whether the other cops would pull their guns at me. Eventually, the officer asked me to leave, saying he didn’t want any wahala with a civil servant wey dey speak big grammar.
I later arrived at my destination 30minutes late. My clients were visibly angry and threatened to boycott the next meeting. See wetin police cause!
The evils of the police! From arresting innocent citizens to covering up crimes for a price, this country is very unfortunate to have this current crop of cops. This is a nation where no one cares whether you are a bad guy; all you have to do is have as much money as possible to pay for police protection. And afterwards, you’d go about harassing ordinary citizens once you have a cop with an AK-47 behind you.
And that’s why I pity poor men. In all honesty, I pity them. You’d rarely see a police officer harassing a rich man. Never…unless he wants to lose his job the next day! But a poor man, aha, they are always on the receiving end of police brutality. From asking for the receipt of their motor-cycles to collecting the ‘normal’ 100 bucks settlement money, the poor man always suffers at the hands of the cops. This leads to a vicious cycle in which the society is filled with angry sons of poor men waiting patiently for the right time to have their vengeance on the cops and any rich man they could lay their hands on.
Crime would continue as long as the members of the police force keep relegating their duties to the background. Put a thousand checkpoints on the road leading from Obalende to Mende, e no matter. Establish a million checkpoints on the road between Awka and Nkanu, na you sabi. Crime would still persist at an alarming rate as long as cops sacrifice their sworn duties on the altar of little money.
The only language cops understand is CASH – so do your best to get as much cash as possible in other to survive in this godless nation! Eee speak lee kwe!