Saturday mornings are quite a breeze. I usually wake up, have some quiet time, check up on social media and wait for the football games, if any, to get underway. Last week Saturday was different. It changed after I logged in on Twitter. A certain Kunle Bello had gone missing- taken by officers of the Nigerian Police. Being a former member of the famous Trybesmen, Kunle's story was always going to hit the headlines. Even though Kunle was confirmed to be relatively safe, his experience opened Pandora's box as everyone with a police horror tale showed up. Some were comical, some were scary, others were just plain horrific… and then I remembered mine.
Sometime in August I was casually walking to a Skye Bank branch in Ketu to make a deposit when a plain-clothes officer jumped in my face. 'My name is Detective Bla bla bla.. Can I meet you?'. 'Meet me for what?' And the next thing I knew, I was off the ground, blows landed on my back, my two-day old corrective glasses fell off my face and I was hauled into a waiting unmarked Volkswagen Golf car. Driver and Mr. Detective were in front and I was at the back, sandwiched between another detective and a uniformed officer armed with a Kalashnikov. Hell became real.
I had returned from a brief trip to New York only two-days before and had some dollars in my wallet, upon illegally searching me, the detective found it and termed me a 'yahoo boy'. My phone was picked up, my emails were scrutinized and when the detective saw mails from my 'oyinbo' friends asking if I'd returned safely, the 'Yahoo boy' tag was firmly in place. I knew it was going to be a rough, long ride.
Can I make a phone-call? I asked Mr. Detective..he looked at me, shook his head and said 'You don't know you're in trouble abi? We are taking you to Epe today today'. Even if he had given my phone back to me, making a phone-call was impossibility because as he was reading my mails, I heard a familiar beep on my Blackberry 9810- 'battery too low for radio use'. There I was, yahoo boy tag on my neck, 'evidence' in my wallet and phone, nerves ridiculously frayed, sore back from all the blows with no contact to the outside world and on my way a police cell on the outskirts of Lagos. Where's Double-0 Seven when you need him?
We had driven for two hours when they saw a Honda Accord car, driven by a young man, speed past them. Their scary looks turned to smiles of glee as the detective ordered the driver to chase the car and try to stop him. 'We go use am chop today'. And then it hit me, these guys had a stereotype profile in mind. Any young person with any semblance of wealth/income was targeted by these guys. They had almost caught up with Honda Accord car when Mr. Detective realized there was little room in our vehicle. 'You no go settle us make we go catch another person?'. My heart was about to read my rights and rant about how I was a law-abiding citizen who was not going to be bullied but my head told my heart to shut up.
I was in an unmarked vehicle with policemen who clearly did not care about the law, I was far from home and my phone was off – I was in no position to rant. He had my wallet, he knew I had N7,000 and the extra dollars. He took the N7,000, eyed the dollars but didn't take them and then handed me back my wallet. Transaction over.
They dropped me off a long way from home and resumed chasing the Honda Accord but not before asking, 'You get transport money go house?'
'Yomi Kazeem is amongst other things, a soccer pundit on radio and a young entrepreneur. His favourite words are: 'Up Nepa'. He tweets from @TheYomiKazeem