The recent protests reminded me of my own experience of police brutality which is nowhere near what a lot of people have been through.
I remember the time I stayed overnight in a police station. Yes, you heard that right. I was with my younger brother. I was 24 as it was just a few months to my wedding and my brother was 19 or 20. This was 2006 in the days of cyber café when there was no internet at home. In the evening my brother and I wanted to go to a cybercafé and we decided to go and buy petrol. When we got to the petrol station the attendant asked us to reverse and move to the next point of sale. There was no car behind and it was just a few meters so my brother reversed and unfortunately a car was driving by and our cars collided. This is the Mobil petrol station in Agidingbi. We got out of the car to see what happened. Nothing was wrong with the other car but I think ours was dented slightly however my brother started apologizing. A man in his early sixties or late fifties came out of the car and started threatening my brother. As a loyal sister that I thought I was (in hindsight I should have brokered peace), I lost my temper and was livid and went in front of the two of them and I shouted at the man because for one he should have been looking and also he wasn’t even ready to hear our apologies. Next thing the man grabbed my neck/throat with both of his hands as though he was strangling me. Without even thinking twice, my brother punched him in the face and he started bleeding with one punch. Everything went mayhem from there. I can’t remember much but all of sudden we were surrounded by a crowd of people shouting and the police patrol that was attached to the area came.
Next thing they broke our phone, then put my brother in the back of the car and told him to drive and they put me in the back of the police van. It was so scary, I was alone with the police officer and he started cursing me as we drove to the police station. Perhaps it’s because in his mind we were privileged children. He said I will never give birth. Thank God I have four children today. I don’t know what I did that He began to curse me. He drove me to the Alausa police station by the Government house. My brother was already there. They put the two of us at the back of the counter. A crowd gathered at the police station. Hmm, this is where I know how quick jungle justice happens. Immediately people started accusing us of all sorts of things. Some said we are cult members. Some said we were armed robbers. People who didn’t know us and had no business with the matter walked a long distance to falsely accuse us.
There was a young man who was there who tried to defend us. The police shut him up and said he must be part of us and they will arrest him as well if he is not careful. He quickly kept quiet. Another person or I’m not sure now whether it is the same person asked us if we had anyone to call. A true angel in the time of need. I gave him my mum’s number. She arrived quickly at the police station. I think she also called my fiancé who is now my husband and he also came. The man we hit came to the police station and his family members were there. Hmm, I think it was his wife who was calling for nothing short of our crucifixion. His face was swollen. Just one punch. Chai. He threatened to deal with us. His brother was apparently the Post Master General of the Federation. People asked my brother and me what school we went to. It didn’t help that I went to the University of Kent and we had a very well known surname, “Aboderin”. We were seen as spoiled rich kids even though my brother went to UniLag.
The man left for the hospital to get checked that he was okay. Eventually, the crowd that wanted to see our crucifixion dispersed. I will never forget what the policewoman at the back of the counter said to us. She said we should just pray that He doesn’t die. She said under no circumstances should we ever get into any fight. She said some people are walking corpses looking for who to implicate. She told of a story of a young boy who only pushed someone that challenged him and the person fell down and died. He was charged for murder. Ah, I was afraid. I started praying that the man in question would not die. She told us never to ever get involved in any fight that it is not worth it. Till today you cannot catch me fighting physically or even fighting. I always try to just make peace because a moment of rage can cause a lifetime of disgrace.
I didn’t want my mum to tell my dad who was out of town for fear of not hearing the last of it lol. Not sure if that was a good idea though because he could have made one phone call that may have helped. Neither did I want my husband to also call his parents who would most likely have been able to make another phone call. Clearly, I was not ready for my in-laws to be involved lol. I think I just thought we would be able to solve the matter quickly and pretend that this never happened. We were told they would let us go when we saw the DPO and when he heard feedback from the man. This is how from 7 pm we were there, 11 pm, 12 midnight, 1 am, etc. At some point, the DPO who had been in the office all along called us in and asked for our explanation. We explained to him but it didn’t suffice. We explained the man grabbed my neck first and my brother was only trying to protect me. He also came to the conclusion that we were rich and spoiled. After the long talk and begging, he said we have to wait. Our crime was our apparent privilege. We went behind the counter and then they took my brother into the cell not too long after. I think at about 4 am the DPO came back and saw me still behind the counter and asked them to take me into the cell. Chai my life flashed.
I went into the cell. Thankfully it was empty and so clean to my surprise. I guess because this was the police station near the Government State House, it was clean. I saw a cockroach on the floor where I sat but that was the least of my worries. I was like how did I get here. Then I remembered the story of Paul and Silas in the Bible in Acts Chapter 16 where at midnight while in Prison they praised God and there was an earthquake and the prison gates broke. I decided perhaps this is where I need to praise God so that ‘the prison gates could break’. This is how at about 4 am I started worshipping God from the top of my lungs. I forgot that there was a male cell was next to mine and my singing (please note that I don’t even have a nice voice) woke the very irritated male inmates and annoyed them. They were like “who be dat?” I just heard my younger brother who is four years younger than me shout “Omi will you Shut Up”. I quickly kept quiet.
At about 6 am they asked me to come and sweep and I swept the whole police station. I think I even needed to use the bathroom and had to use water at the back somewhere. At about 1 pm our dear man came back to the police station to see us. Apparently, he knew one of our family members, I think he started famzing at this point and he apologized and said we are like his children. He then hugged us. He decided not to press charges and they let us go home.
This is how a 7 pm trip to the cyber café turned to an overnight stay at the police station and we didn’t get home till the next afternoon. My brother and I were so sober when we got home and didn’t go out for days. Imagine if the good samaritan didn’t get my mum’s number. I can’t imagine the trauma she would have faced not knowing where her children were. I can’t even imagine what he said to my mum on the phone and how she would have felt hearing her two children had been arrested.
This is how parents never hear from their children again. This is how people go about normal duties and never return home. I don’t know what is scarier. The people who may have lynched us in the name of jungle justice or the police officers who carried us. Perhaps they were angels in disguise after all because it could have been worse if the crowd lynched us. It was in writing this that I realize where my fear of the police has come from. Whenever I see them as we drive, I just cringed. I get so afraid. I’m always telling my husband to greet them politely. I’m just always on edge anytime I see anyone in uniform most especially military officers. Oh, I have an encounter with them that I will share on another day.
I can’t imagine the torment the Nigerian youths face on a daily basis. Blatant discrimination, injustice, and brutality. Just because of the way they look, dress, their hairstyle, or the fact that they have a nice phone. I can’t imagine the fear parents have when their kids go out at night or even during the day to just do what young people do. Sometimes people are harassed while sitting in an Uber or Taxify. Nigeria is already tough for many and the fear of the people who should be protecting us is not something we should have to go through especially since we are all the same race.
What we are seeing now with the youths protesting is as a result of years of oppression. It is understandable. It is their right to cry out in pain for they have been maltreated.
At the same time even with my consistent fears of the police and my personal experience being locked up that I recounted above, I realize that reform is the only way forward. The police too have suffered from decades of neglect. I lived in GRA Ikeja most of my life and one of the places we lived was near the police barracks near the police college. The place is an eyesore. I audited the Nigerian Police Force community bank when I worked in Deloitte many years ago and I was so shocked at the meager salary they collect. I can’t even imagine how many of their children have died from not being able to afford healthcare because we all know the public hospitals are not worth going to and they cannot afford to go to private hospitals. I have been to a public hospital when we went through financial challenges growing up and I have seen a small child die on a bench with no one helping. We reap what we sow. In finance, you know you only expect returns when you make investments. There have been little or no investments in the police force for years. They also do not have any life insurance to cover their families if they die in duty. They are not giving adequate weapons to fight armed robbers. Also apparently the Nigerian police have only 371,800 members for a country of over 200 million people. This means a ratio of 1 to 800 citizens. In terms of salary structure, a police recruit earns about N9,019.42 monthly while a Police Constable Grade Level 10 earns N51,113.59 monthly. A reform of the police force is needed urgently. I’m not in any way making an excuse for the lack of value in human life however I have heard that during times of war even the best of men lose their values and think about survival first. Sadly the Nigerian police have been in a state of war of survival for decades.
Yesterday I got frustrated because I felt like we are fighting ourselves. We need a complete transformation of Nigeria. I was even angrier when my mum who is elderly was sitting in 7 hours of traffic and got home at about 1 am because she went to church. I was angry about seeing the innocent youths killed during peaceful protests. I was angry at the loss of the young man in Ogbomoso. The worry multiplied today. After realizing that I truly cannot kill myself with worry I handed over Nigeria, and everybody to God, and I went to sleep.
Shortly after, my eyes were closed but I wasn’t asleep I started seeing visions of protests and protesters in different locations. Then I started seeing visions of volcanos erupting. The Lord then reminded me of the theme for 2020 Do It Afraid Conference- A Volcanic Transformation. He reminded me that the themes of the conference are prophetic to what is going on in Nigeria. You see a dormant volcano suddenly erupts when there is enough pressure, stretching, and thinning of the earth’s crust’s plates. Even though a volcano is seen to disrupt, it actually causes transformation one of which is that volcanic materials mixed with soil provide a lot of important nutrients and provide really fertile soil which has produced abundant food and fostered civilizations.
The Lord reminded me that for the volcano to transform there must be an eruption. In my moments of frustration, I totally forgot about this as I was just focusing on the transformation of Nigeria.
He then said this is what is happening in Nigeria at the moment. Nigeria is blessed with numerous natural resources however like Singapore our true resource is in its people. I worked in investment banking for many years and whenever we created investment memos we always highlighted our burgeoning youthful population as one of the key factors that make Nigeria an attractive investment destination. This is why foreign companies come to invest and set up shop in Nigeria. We are over 200 million people and 80% of which are the youth. The youth are our national treasure, They have been lying dormant but now they have erupted within and are demanding change.
I believe this is the birth pangs for a New Nigeria. You see when a woman is in labor, there is a point of no return where you can’t decide to stop or push the baby back and say you are not doing again, the only way forward is to push that baby out or else both the baby and the mother are at risk of death. This is where we are and it is time to birth the new Nigeria. The thing to note though is that we must ensure that this does not cause a disruption or we don’t lose sight of the true vision which is to transform this country. The goal is to transform Nigeria and we must do so with peaceful protests. Actually, these protests are in the best interest of not just us but also our police officers as we reform the sector.
I pray to see a New Nigeria emerge from this. I pray to see a new and reformed Nigerian Police Force. I pray that our leaders would see this eruption as an opportunity to transform our nation and not as a disruption. I pray they see this as an opportunity to harness our national treasure which is our youth. I pray that we will see a New Nigeria. May all the families who have lost people in this fight be comforted and healed and may there not be any more bloodshed in Jesus Name Amen.
As I conclude this letter, on our 60th anniversary the Lord gave me a word for Nigeria which I shared. Please click on the link below. I saw visions of a chandelier. A chandelier is no ordinary light. It is beautiful and it is for display in important places such as ballrooms, palaces, etc. The Lord says that Nigeria is a Chandelier and it is time to display Nigeria in all its beauty and glory in the global economy and the world. Congratulations Nigeria.
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About Omilola Oshikoya
Omilola Oshikoya is known as the Father’s Daughter. She is a wife to her best friend John Olugbenga Oshikoya and they have been married for over 14 years and are blessed with four beautiful children. She is an International Wealth Connoisseur with over 17 years of experience in finance and is the founder of a financial education platform, The Tech World of Finance and The Richer Kids Club. She is the convener of the annual Do it afraid conference and the author of the best-selling book The Richer Woman/La Femme La Plus Riche which was launched in 14 cities such as New York, Paris, Kigali, London, Nairobi, Dubai, etc.
About The Do it Afraid Conference
The conference is a wealth creation event focused on the psychology of an entrepreneur. It started in 2015 and the goal is to inspire business-minded individuals to face their fears and fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams as one of the drivers for economic growth. To date, there have been 72 speakers and 5 conferences with over 4,500 in attendance and thousands more impacted globally. Impact stories include Nellies, Farmkart, Atlantis By Eventecture, etc.
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