Monday, August 20, 2007

Dispatches from Lagos: Two Policemen


Saturday, Aug 18, 2007.
Early Afternoon.
Unilag Gate Junction, Akoka.
A mobile policeman (aka MOPOL or Kill-n-go!), gun aloft (cocked most likely). He marches menacingly to the junction where there the cause of the gridlock is, to clear the traffic for his “convoy” to pass. He looks mean, barking out orders aimed at making bloody civilians piss in their pants and clear their bloody cars out of the F***ing way.
But it is his gun that catches my attention. It is pure poetry. A rust-scarred, trigger-happy, stray-bullet-loving, battle-weary, armed-robber-fearing AK-47, it has a sticker on it.

The kind of sticker you see on cars.

The sticker simply read: JESUS.


Saturday, Aug 18, 2007
Late Evening (close to 11p.m.)
The Road connecting Mobolaji Bank Anthony in Ikeja, and Toyin Street.
I sight a band of blue lights (from torchlights), dancing excitedly in the darkness. I slow down, brace myself for whatever might come my way.
I halt, then swing off the road, and park.
Open your boot!
At this point I’m wondering what I have in the boot that might earn me regret.
I greet the policeman who is “handling my case” (others are busy flagging down new prey). I greet him very nicely. Then I step out of my car. Greet him again. I head for the booth. I open it.
As it springs open he immediately asks me to close the booth. Without even inspecting the contents.
And what does he say next?
He tells me that he has decided not to search me anymore because of the way I greeted him. And because I smiled. (I didn’t even know I smiled).
My name is “A*** I****, he says. What is your name?
He holds out his hand for a handshake.
I tell him.
I must open the door for you, he insists. He does, dashes ahead of me to open my car door for me.
I am looking like mumu, calculating how much this unmerited, unsolicited kindness will cost me. He tells me that he knows that I will make his weekend fine. I sigh, in my most regretful tone of voice I tell him that I am on my way home, and I am empty. Nothing. But that I pass that way often. And I will look out for him when I pass.
He doesn’t protest. Doesn’t plead. Simply tells me that he, A*** I**** is usually at that checkpoint. He smiles and asks me to proceed.
I wonder why we do not have more of him in the Nigeria Police (Extortion by) Force.