Jungle Justice

I originally intended to write this, then on second thoughts, didn’t feel like doing so. I promised to write on it though, and I hope you’ll forgive me if it reads like patchwork.

The men were standing in a row outside the police station as naked as the day they were born. One of them had both hands covering his crotch. A policeman noticing him, moved in and delivered a stroke with a whip to the robber’s shoulder. He pulled his hands away and stood one with the others, displaying shriveled specimens of male flesh.

In line with the group, I made out a woman. Unlike the men, she had not been ordered to strip but it was apparent from the welts on her skin and the stony, brazen expression she wore that she had been involved. She had earlier tried to hide her face behind her hands. With dexterity surprising for someone her size, an overweight policewoman kicked her in the groin.

I scanned the crowd out of curiosity. It was comprised mostly of women. For a while I wondered if they were present to look their fill, to ensure the woman was not forced to go naked like the men, or both.

A man standing beside me was shaking his head sadly. “This isn’t good. No matter what they did, they shouldn’t be paraded naked.”

“It’s good for them,” a woman who overhead him retorted. “If they’re not humiliated this way, they’ll never learn.”

The people watching the armed robbers were more interesting to me than the robbers themselves. I was more repulsed than amused at the looks on their faces and I wondered if I wasn’t among savages.

In those moments I thought of the story my aunt had told me a year before. She works as a seamstress at Mile 3 (Port Harcourt) but there was a time she couldn’t handle the images of burnings that occurred nearly everyday, carried out not by traders as is usual elsewhere, but by policemen and women, so-called keepers of law and order.

A mother was at home, attending to her washing when a group of mobile police approached and demanded her son. The story was that he had been involved in some petty stealing the day before.

Unfortunately for the woman [and the son], the boy was in. The leader of the gang who had been brought along, identified him as the one they were looking for. If the mother had had money, I’m certain the policemen wouldn’t have been averse to being bought off but as she had none, her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Wailing and asking to be arrested in his stead, she followed them to the Mile 3 park. None of them suspected anything other than perhaps a beating, followed by ‘bail’ which would no doubt end up in the policemen’s pockets.

None of the arrested men had any egunje to redeem himself. After debating among themselves, the policemen decided to do a burning. Each “thief” had petrol on him and a match was struck. I don’t think any of them knew of stop, drop and roll because my aunt painted a very vivid picture of people erupting in flames and running to try to put them out with more petrol being added liberally until the heat took its toll and they stopped struggling. Of course the poor mother went berserk and had to be restrained. The policemen just stood there laughing.

Take the case of the Anglican clergyman who was commuting between Aba and Eleme and got stopped by the police. When the policemen demanded a bribe, he calmly told them he was a clergyman and giving bribes wasn’t in accordance with this beliefs. He got shot and died. A bullet costs a lot more than the 20 naira the policeman wanted 🙁

An okada rider happened to overtake a police car in Port Harcourt and was pulled over. A policeman jumped out and ordered him to open his mouth. He complied. Sticking the barrel of his gun in the okada rider’s mouth, the trigger-happy policeman fired and ended another life.

Funny but sad world – the thieving politicians and law enforcement agents who deserve the naked parades and burning ten times over don’t get any. Well, that was how things were when I left. From what I hear, things aren’t really very different. Now I’m hearing via Chidi that our police have a new uniform.

Old wine in new bottles.

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Beckley weather’s been something else lately. I can’t believe it’s snowing right now (somewhere around three inches) when we’ve had weeks of sunshine.

Comments

  1. idemili says:

    Interesting Azuka. Very interesting, but you’re right. It is quite patchy…like thoughts that are not quite finished but at the same time follow one on op of the other. it’s a sort of genius, if I may call it that. At the same time, it’s quite disconcerting.

    Great stories though.

  2. Ugodaniels says:

    Its pathetic, scary and pitiful

    which way 9ja dey go sef?

    Tufiakawa!!!

  3. Boso says:

    The funny thing, I was talking about this with my uncle who came from Nigeria just this morning. We were talking about what it would take to solve the ‘police problem’. My uncle think that until we start to recruit graduates into the polite, the problem will continue.

  4. Akin Aworan says:

    This is an insightful blog. The BBC have many interesting articles about the Nigerian police force, so it might be something worth checking.

    All the best

    ak

  5. Mad Hatter says:

    Its feels like you were forced to write this

  6. Calabar Gal says:

    Sad but true. I like to think of burning burglars a thing of the past that dosent exist anymore these days.

    Still snowing over thre huh? Pele. We’re enjoying the lovely Easter sunshine over here.

  7. Azuka says:

    Obinwanne
    Thanks

    Idemili
    Yeah, I stuck my notes together without any transition.

    Ugodaniels
    Well, we’re moving forward in some areas…

    Boso
    The question is: how many graduates want to join the force?

    Akin
    I think I’ve read many of them. Thanks for visiting!

    Mad Hatter
    Ha ha. Forced by my pride maybe?

    Calabar Girl
    I still can’t understand what makes people burn their fellow humans — the ones who get burned are usually the petty ones.

    Our weather is so unpredictable — maybe it’s because we’re up in the mountains.

  8. Boso says:

    Think about it, these guys are primary school leavers, and you put a gun in their hands.

    We’ve got so many unemployed graduates in Nigeria, if you make it worth their while, and go on a recruitment drive, I’m sure they can attract them to the police force.

  9. Vickii says:

    Every once in a while, I’m reminded that Nigeria is almost like a different world with it’s own rules … burning people is so barbaric, I can’t believe it still happens.

    This is a good post but I think the topic could do with more time and research when you get a chance.

  10. Noni says:

    This is quite disturbing – Chioma’s blog article is even more so. Nigerian daily news is always soo depressing in its barbarity as Vickii said.

  11. Princess says:

    Great story! Such a sad reality.

  12. darlington says:

    too sad for our nigerian citizeen to engage in such an act. wasting pple’s life like chicken is never the best. if only they know wat they r doing. we r blinded by evil thot withouth thinking back for just a minutes that they r human like me n u.

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