My police brutality experience

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

hello darling blogville.
Ahhhhhh my life is so busy I don't even know how to think peacefully anymore.
Apologies for coming "back" but actually just disappearing again.
I miss reading all the blogs, I miss blogging, I miss getting the responses. The thing is, since I got back from Nigeria my life has changed. I've started university AND I'm still working. Plus a number of private issues. In short, I am extremely busy. It's taken some time for me to just get my head above the water (at least I think I'm there now) so i am hoping that now I can stop by at least once a week to begin with but I hope 2-3 times a week as soon as I get the hang of this.
Today I won't have the chance to read up but everyone thank you sooo much for your welcome back wishes. I have to write this in the last 20 mins I have left at work.

Okay, over to Naija...
We arrived mid-July in Lagos. I had the chance to meet up with my dear Enkay who is absolutely gorgeous of course :-) and super sweet. She helped us out with a bunch of things.
From Lagos we quickly went to the village. Our goal (If I haven't menitoned it before) was to finish up the house we've been building. Anyone who's been involved with that knows what a HASSLE it is. We just wanted to get it off our back so my MIL can finally have a nice and safe place to stay..she's been staying in Onitsha which is just hell on earth and we want her to retire and live the sweet life..she done suffer enough.
We arrived at the house, it looked beautiful, but was full of half naked men (workers). We had no doors on any of the toilets and we didn't get any before after 2 weeks. My MIL and I were the only women in the house and 10 men walking around all the time working. I got my fair share of testosterone, lol. But it was ok. We worked hard all those days, cleaned the yard from all the bricks and waste from the building, painted the walls, helped with the tiling etc. We were disappointed upon arrival because the guy in charge had told us that it was a lot more finalized than that! We'd been pushing him and pushing him and turns out he was cheating us anyway. But that's another story I'll get back to another day. The worst part of it all was that we had to travel to Onitsha to get construction materials, doors, etc.


One of the days we got caught up in go-slow (surprise surprise) and just got stuck on the highway. I was on the phone with my mother. Suddenly I heard gun shots. I hung up the phone to see what was going on. A man ran towards our car, passed us on the left and disappeared. A second later a car drove up towards us and stopped right in front of us. Out fell a man. Blood everywhere. The police came shouting and screaming and the man was crying and everyone else was screaming. they'd managed to shoot him (the driver of the car) with this pump action gun and blown nearly all the bottom part of his leg. It looked awful. We got away as soon as we could, but turned out the guy wascompletely innocent. The stupid police had just shot him because he didn't hear it when they told him to stop! From that day, I started getting a bit more shaky whenever the police stopped us. And let me tell you, they did EVERY day, EVERY chance they got. Jeez, their road blocks were sometimes located every 100 yards! Mad men.

Fast forward

We're on our way from the village to Abuja to pick up my parents from the airport. We leave 6:30 am in the morning to make sure we travel while it's safe. We had planned to get a driver (and we really wanted to bring our car to Abj, but didn't want to leave the car with a driver we didn't know) but because of a number of mishappenings, we were stuck alone. I told my hubby I'm sure we could do it. We were supposed to cross Onitsha and meet up with someone we knew in Asaba. We had my MIL with us together with one of the workers, but they dropped at the beginning of Onitsha. We only had to get through Onitsha on our own. My hubby knew the way and it wasn't supposed to be a problem that early on a Saturday as long as we don't stop.

We reached a police road block and with their grumpy faces they first asked for the documents, driving licence, to look inside the trunk. My hubby got out and showed them the boot.
"Ok, let me see the engine compartment" the policeman said. I shook my head inside the car. These policemen! Always looking to fuck you up!
My hubby said ok, fine I'll show you but you'll find nothing there, and opened up the lid.
"Where's the engine number" the police man said angrily.
Hubby said, well this is a new car there is no such thing as an engine number its only the chassisnumber of the car which you can find here.
The man was looking for something to catch us for and was clearly unhappy he hadn't found anything to arrest us for. They wanted blood that day.
They continued studying the documents (which I am SURE they couldn't even READ)..idiots of no comparison..
"Well, in short, your glasses are tinted. Where is your tinted-permit?!"
Hubby: Tinted permit? every police man we meet is talking about this but as you can SEE *showing him the windows* our windows are not tinted, you can see everything and everyone inside the car.
the policeman laughed in an evil way and talked loudly to his policefriends "This guy ey, he think he go just cheat us like this? Hahaha. Who are you this kind big man you travel without documents"
hubby was getting frustrated but kept his cool
"Come on Mr police officer you see I am just carrying my wife we are going to the Abuja airport and you know the roads are not safe. Can you please allow us to go?"
"HEY. You are a nigerian. YOU know how things work here. YOU are coming to the police station and we are seizing the car"
Hubby: Come on police officer please I don't have time to waste you know we can't go there. I am so scared and stressed right now because we really need to get going and you know everything is ok with our documents

Blah, blah, blah. In short, another junior policeman entered the back seat of our car with his AK-47. He was sweaty and had this angry expression on his face, the one all police and military men put on to intimidate you and let you know they're superior.

Policeman: GO
Hubby: Come on man, please, can't we just settle here, what do you want? We can't go to the police station
Policeman: No I have orders, You are going to the police station
Hubby and I: Come on man police are always giving us so much trouble. Why? We are only on holiday and it's like you guys don't even want us to come. You know we haven't done anything wrong why can't we just settle you here and now what do you want from us
Policeman with a louder, more assertive voice: WE ARE GOING TO THE STATION NOW.
Hubby: OK! fine, fine. Where do you want me to drive?
Policeman: Go straight
We drove down the road. I was feeling nervous because this man was so agitated.
I turned around completely to the police officer and started talking to him in a respectful manner, explaining to him that my hubby was just stressed, that if he could please let us go we could give him something to settle him, that my hubby is worried about driving on that road etc. He smiled at me in a condescending way and started lecturing me on how we should behave towards him, that he has a gun.
My hubby whispered to me that maybe we should call the embassy for help. He grew up in Onitsha and have seen awful things there before. I said that he should wait. He grabbed his phone and the policeman grabbed it out of his hands.
Hubby was sweating and I could almost see his heart beating outside his T-shirt.He was freneticly thinking what to do.
Hubby: Come on man you have to let us go lets settle
Policeman immediately got very agitated and screamed loudly YOU GO STRAIGHT DOWN RIGHT NOW OR I WILL KILL YOU MYSELF!
hubby was getting upset. "what do you mean man, what have we done wrong?"
Policeman: YOU WANT TO KIDNAP ME? I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL SHOOT YOU MYSELF RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE!
Hubby: You want to kill me in front of my wife? in my home country? while we're on holiday? is that what you want?
My hubby had kept his cool for so long ,watching them talk down to me, listening to them humiliating us and commanding us for so long he was getting agitated.
Policeman: I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL RIGHT NOW. He grabbed his AK and started loading it. Put his finger on the trigger. He pointed it to the back of his head while we were still driving on the crazy roads of Onitsha.

I didn't think at all, I just acted. It was a reflex. I grabbed the edge of the barrel or whatever you call it. I don't know. I dragged it away from my husbands head and pointed it towards the ceiling. Oh I didn't mention I had been crying and begging earlier to make the man stop being so angry. The man just went apeshit on us. He started fighting me over the gun, inside the car while we were driving. I cried stop, stop, stop please please stop! He was fighting to point it back on him and his finger was still on the trigger. This probably happened in the course of 10-30 seconds but it felt like forever. We batteled back and forth and the car was swinging from side to side. He finally won but got thrown backwards so he couldn't put the gun close to his head again, only aim from the corner of the backseat. Again I acted in reflex and got out of my seat and stood up against/leaned on the drivers seat to make sure I covered my husbands head and body. I knew he wouldn't shoot me. He didn't have the guts. The man reached over my stomach and grabbed the steering wheel while we were driving. He started turning it. This was in the main street of Onitsha so the traffic was crazy as it is. We finally got under the head bridge, crashed with the car in front of us and there was about 10 policemen standing there. My husband winded down the window immediately screaming for help.
I was shaking and crying. I didn't not get away from his seat until the police man was outside the car again. Now followed more than an hour of negotiations.

Thank GOD for the people there who noticed it all. A massive crowd gathered and was shocked by the sight seeing that we were obviously 'foreigners' most especially me, and I was bleeding everywhere crying. The battle with the man had lead to multiple bruises and cutwounds on my body. Thankfully due to several contacts in combination with all the people in the area, they allowed us to go. But I just CANNOT believe them. In the crowd of 10 policemen they were divided in half, half of them supported us and said they should allow us to go, then the other bastards were looking for some kind of blood revenge. I don't freaking understand till this day...
I got out of the car but was commanded to stay inside. I overheard one of the policemen saying "Come on, lets just kill him and throw him in the gutter.. they can't do anything and she'll just go back home"

I mean, excuse you! What the hell is going on?
We reached Abuja in one piece in the afternoon, allthough a bit later in the day. Needless to say we were stopped by the police at least 20 more times but whenever they saw my bruises they just let us go.
I've never experienced such a thing in Nigeria before. I don't know what was up. We'll never use our car travelling in the east again, most especially Onitsha. If I ever cross that city again it will be through air or ABC-transport. It took us about 3 days to get our heartrate back to normal. I am telling you, it was so close. So close. I shiver just thinking about it and we are still in shock allthough this happened soon 2 months ago.

It leads to me wondering what in the world leads to such greed and brutality. Next time going I will really reconsider. So much for the rebranding of Nigeria.... The police that is actually supposed to protect are the ones we have to fear the most?


Okay people this was the short version of the story I hinted about in my other entry..at least I think I did. I will be back soon to check on your blogs. Have to run and catch the bus!

Lots of love! Miss ya'll :-)


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39 comments:

Tigeress September 16, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

i dey work- gonna have to come back and read later- long post. :) But welcome back me dear. I hope u're back to stay. xxxx

Nana Yaw Asiedu September 16, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

This is crazy. I thought situations like this only happened in Rio or such places. SO sorry. If this happens a lot in Nigeria, then ....

Omosi T September 16, 2009 at 7:30 PM  

sheesh, just stumbled upon your blog and this was the first post i read, dang! sorry o, nigerian police are on another level of crazy

Lady X September 16, 2009 at 7:51 PM  

Omg! That guy sounds like he was high on some shit! Maybe he thought he could take advantage since you guys looked like foreigners. I'm really shocked at this. I know the cops are terrible in Naija but wow...

leggy September 16, 2009 at 8:35 PM  

wow...i lived in nigeria for 17 years and i never experienced this.i cant believe this happens in nigeria..na wa oh.chee yah.take heart dear.atleast nothing happened.na wa oh.onitsha must be a very brutal place.never been there sha.but i come from awka though.na wa oh.

Phoenix September 16, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

WOW...,all i can say is thank God for you and your husbands life!!!
Chukwu ekwekwela ihe ojo!!
God forbid!!

Good Naija Girl September 16, 2009 at 9:12 PM  

What a terrifying experience! I don't even know where to start. You were so brave; I don't think I could have done what you did. I thank God for preserving your life and that of your hubby.

I was hoping to one day travel to Nigeria without my parents...now I don't know if I'll ever feel safe enough!

Rosie September 16, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

OMG...My dear this is horrible. That is why any time I travel, I travel with public transportation with a large company at least two to three of my brothers or cousins. We rent a cab or take public bus. I won't even think about taking a private car. Yes, it is a little inconvenient but in the long run, you are safer cus these taxi/bus guys have already settled the police ahead of time.

Rosie September 16, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

OMG...My dear this is horrible. That is why any time I travel, I travel with public transportation with a large company at least two to three of my brothers or cousins. We rent a cab or take public bus. I won't even think about taking a private car. Yes, it is a little inconvenient but in the long run, you are safer cus these taxi/bus guys have already settled the police ahead of time.

Rosie September 16, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

OMG...My dear this is horrible. That is why any time I travel, I travel with public transportation with a large company at least two to three of my brothers or cousins. We rent a cab or take public bus. I won't even think about taking a private car. Yes, it is a little inconvenient but in the long run, you are safer cus these taxi/bus guys have already settled the police ahead of time.

doll September 16, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

are you not Nigerian?

sorry bout the experience..i can imagine how horrible it was

Fabulo-la September 16, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

WOw.

Im so sorry to hear this.
Thank God you guys are ok.

Sigh..Nigeria my country

simeone September 16, 2009 at 11:28 PM  

so so sori about ur ordeal...its just senceless what these people do..and not different from terrorism..i'm just hapi you guys came out alive..
hope u cool..?

Sting September 17, 2009 at 2:44 AM  

That was crazy. I'm glad u guys got home safe.

Myne Whitman September 17, 2009 at 2:51 AM  

Sorry about your bad experience, it's not always like that sha. Hope you feel better now?

Rose September 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

Glad you got there safely. I can't say what possesses these police officers sometimes..*sigh*

Olufunke September 17, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

So sorry you had to experience this.
It really i, so many people have been killed like that.
I am ashamed to admit that the Police in Nigeria are not there to protect the people, they are the ones we have to be weary off.
Life is of very little value.

Anyway, thank God you've also had some other sweet and beautiful experiences in Nigeria, what can one say......
I am sad for Nigeria.

How are you coping with your 'multi-faceted' life?

Sassy Trends September 17, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

Ehyah.... ndo en..na so we dey see am my sisteer.

Just that the ones in lagos are not as desperate and heartless as this onitsha ones...

Enkay September 17, 2009 at 1:44 PM  

An experience that no one should ever have to go through.

I've discovered that the police on the interstate highways are usually more vicious than the ones in the cities.

Anyone traveling by private car should really be careful and travel in large groups.

Sorry again dear!


Thank you for your sweet compliments!

Abena September 17, 2009 at 3:31 PM  

*Oh my goodness* Just to think that my major issue with the Ghana policemen revolves around them occasionally asking for money to buy a coke or something like that. This is completely unacceptable in any country that is supposed to be a democracy!
Thank God you are safe.

Tigeress September 17, 2009 at 6:56 PM  

oh waow- i really dont have anything to say that to thank God for sparing ur life. Cos the truth be told they had every opportunity to kill.

Anoda Phase September 17, 2009 at 9:30 PM  

hmmm...my dear, I rejoice with u that u r alive to tell this story...all thanks to God for sparing urs and ur hubby's lives...may God continue to protect us all from evil. Sorry dearie.

akaBagucci September 18, 2009 at 2:20 PM  

this.. is a full epistle o.....good you survived it o...

blogoratti September 18, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

Hard to picture all that scenario-but hey you pulled through in the end.
How you?

Nice Anon September 18, 2009 at 11:38 PM  

How crazy! good to see you back though

jhazmyn September 20, 2009 at 12:30 PM  

This is just so crazy, i can only imagine wat u guys went thru while the episode unfolded...i'm so glad u guys are ok...

U just keep ur head up dear...hope ur ok

StandTall-The Activist September 20, 2009 at 2:17 PM  

Seriously you were in Nigeria in July? Seriously? I am so freaking hurt!

SOLOMONSYDELLE September 23, 2009 at 9:05 PM  

My God...well, I thank God you and your family are safe. This is madness. We once had a horrible experience with a xenophobic police officer in Abidjan that has colored the way I will ever look at any person in uniform with a gun. Now reading this story just gives me the chills.

But even you, na wetin, abi you think say you be rambo? you dey fight with oga officer? lol! I'm just glad your fine. I hope your hubby is treating you extra special oh, you more than likely saved his life, you know?

BTW, got your message. Expect a response soon =)

Guro September 24, 2009 at 7:46 PM  

Wow. Jeg leste "en halv gul sol" i sommer, og nå fikk jeg litt flashback til den boken.
Hva er det du studerer? Jeg har frist på meg innen sommeren til å levere masteren min, så nå må jeg bli student igjen jeg også.. Må ta meg selv i nakkeskinnet tror jeg. Huff..
Godt å ha deg tilbake i bloggverdenen hvertfall! :)

יש (Yosh) September 25, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

Just found a hyperlink to this post. It's so hard to read this and not have your pulse quicken. Good you guys came out of this in one piece and talk about it cos a lot of ppl do not.

People are like, "know your rights and don't budge!" But obviously this is not the case with the Nigeria police. They are a dreadful lot, all of them.

Several police sensitization programs talk about what to do in scenario like this. The fact remains it's hard to follow-up with such abuse cases...and not Onitsha, of everywhere else. Onitsha...all my life, I've only stepped into that place twice. I was born and bred in Lagos, but as they say, my craze no reach I panicked when I stepped into that place. The culmination was in August for my cousin's customary marriage. My brother and I got accosted for traveling with a laptop without its receipt. Something he's owned for more than two years now. Needless to say, time wasted. frustration and not being able to uphold your right makes it all the more worse. It's painful, really painful people have to go through this.

I've had several close-calls with the wrong police officers. Each experience leaves me less comfortable with the lot, as I'm sure it's the same with everyone who has been through the same.

aloted September 26, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

wow...u r brave o...ramboress!

but seriousily i thank God for sparing your lives and that u could come back and share this with us...

naija police...i dunno o!! may God help us

StandTall-The Activist September 27, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

I am sorry that I am responding to this serious issue so late. I thank God for your life and that of your hubby.

I feel like cursing these policemen right now with all my heart! I so much hate our police. They have not shown any dedication to national service nor selfless duties. They kill and maim innocent people in the name of token! They treat the citizens of Nigeria like animals all in the name of what they will eat, they bribe they will take and the fact that they have guns!

May those in the forces that have killed, maimed, maltreated innocent citizen rot in hell!

Anonymous,  September 28, 2009 at 5:38 PM  

wow standtall that's bit harsh. The police aren't the problem sweetie, you really need to find the root cause...

sorry for your unfortunate encounter which is a dire potrayal of the country we call our own - the leaders are asleep

tobenna October 2, 2009 at 4:35 PM  

Shocking story.
Glad it ended as such.
You are a strong lady!

Maya Mame October 4, 2009 at 10:45 PM  

Hey Adaeze!
First of all, I can't believe this experience, I knew Nigeria was bad but this is horrendous!

Just like you, I am slowly catching up on reading other blogs and have finally gotten to yours. Read your interview and the awful rape and I just have to say, you are such a strong person! To be able to go through that and later write about it shows amazing courage. Look forward to (if time permits) read more of your blog in the future.

xx

Anonymous,  October 22, 2009 at 5:28 PM  

Speechless.

Glad you and your hubby are okay.

olaoluwatomi December 15, 2009 at 2:51 AM  

My sistah Never argue with the Nigerian Police o! Please never do such a thing again, Gods angels were on assignment that day! Wow God really saved you guys! Thank God you are alive to tell the story, stories of the Nigerian Police bruutality are enough to fill all the volumes of this world o!

Anonymous,  January 15, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

I will not concur on it. I over warm-hearted post. Specially the title attracted me to review the whole story.

Anonymous,  January 19, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

Genial brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you for your information.

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