When danger lurks, the smartest move for any individual to make would be to dial ‘911’ and it is expected that within minutes, rescue in the form of the paramedics or the police or a combination of both will be on hand or so it appears in the movies but in the country I live, I have no idea what the emergency numbers are, and even if I did, having enough credit in my mobile phone to make the necessary call is not a given and even if I could surmount that obstacle, I would still weigh the odds because oftentimes it seems as if, the ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys are one and the same.
This is not a rant from an unpatriotic individual, it is the reality at least ‘my’ reality. Twice, I have been threatened, intimated and in one of the situations in serious danger of being sexually violated by the men in black, for exercising a fundamental human right (freedom of movement) and most unfortunately for being female.
I will leave out one of the encounters. I need material for my tell-all memoir (smile) but let me share the other. This event transpired more than a decade ago but the memories harass me like a jilted lover.
It goes as follows: A friend from university decided to spend a few days at my place so I had to get rid of my reclusive tendencies to make her stay a bit exciting so when the opportunity came for us to attend the rap musician’s 50 Cent Concert at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, I jumped at the opportunity. My brother-in-Law agreed to chauffeur us in company of a male friend of his. On getting to the venue, we met a rowdy scene of desperate fans scrambling to enter an obviously overcrowded space. When tear gas was used to disperse the crowd, we knew it was time to leave. My In-Law then offered to take us clubbing and so meters away from the club we got down from the vehicle with the intention to walk a few poles but about midway, we were accosted by a group of police men and almost immediately the two females in the group (my friend and I) were ordered to climb into the back of their van for being ‘prostitutes’. It was an outrageous accusation but I was too scared to retort that even if it was true that prostitution is not a crime in that part of the country. Instead I showed my ID card (I was teacher in a military secondary school then) but it did not make any difference. They concluded by saying that decent women don’t go out at night and should not wear trousers so we had to be commercial sex workers. A phone call from my In-Law to a highly placed official saved the day.
In the van were other women, who seemed to have been picked up from other locations. Some were pleading, some were silent but they obviously did not have any access to any ‘Big Man’ like my In-Law did but I realized that we were all ‘lucky’ considering because not long after that incident probably metres from where we stood, a group of 6 people were killed in cold blood. 5 males and two females in what is now known as the ‘Apo 6 Murder’. It is a tale of false accusation, harassment, intimidation by the police that led to the brutal murder of six innocent Nigerians who like us had decided to go clubbing on Gimbiya Street, in Area Eleven, in Abuja.
Today I wish I can say that despite several changes in government that things are different, that we have individuals who are seriously bothered about the state of insecurity but I can’t, the only difference, I see are the political logos but the desperation, deceit and determination to stay in power are basically the same.