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by - October 10, 2020


I recently read the news on BBC news that the rouge Nigerian police force SARS had been from conducting stop and search in compliance with the recent #endsars trend on twitter that shows videos from different parts of the country of members in this special until brutalize and extort Nigerian youths. 

Anyways if you are looking for the one millionth and one reason why Nigerians want SARS to disappear from the face of the earth here is my documentation titled. HIGHWAY DEMONS.

Highway Demons
I drank the dry air in the atmosphere of my ancestral town in Anambra state; we had just buried my aunt, but couldn’t help feeling guilty that my emotions wereelsewhere. Twelve hours since our encounter with the police officers on the highway but the sweaty scent of the officer who drove our cato the Ugboneki police stationwas still vivid.Over the years, Nigerian police have become a huge reason for concern amongcitizenbecausof their reputatioof detaining young people hopinto extortthousands of naira off them.While their unofficial motto says ‘police is your friend’ videos of policemen takingthe lives of noncompliant men and women that led to many protests have provenotherwise.ThaWednesday afternoon we passed several check points stationed along thehighway from Lagos, and just getting pulled over three times, until we arrived atBenin-bypass. There were five officers all wearing tattered bulletproof vests thatconveniently hid their identities.My brother-in-law pulled the car over the corner of the road. Ahead was the billboardto the polytechnic in that area.“What is this?” The tallest of the group said, as he stuck his hands in the sidecompartment of the car at the driver’s seat.“It’s my nail polish glue,” my sister answered from the passenger’s seat. As soon ashe heard this, the officer returned the nail polish back to where he picked it.The police officer asked my brother-in-law to step out of the vehicle, he did as he wastold and followed him towards their van along with the other armed officers, thinkingit was one of those situations where they propose “something for the boys”.Five minutes later, Sam returned to the car infuriated with two officers escorting himwith their rifle held closely.
 pull out your phone,” the officer who had put his hands in the car to searchearlier yelled as he brought out everything he could find in the car door compartment.“What’s this?” he yelled.My sister and I stepped out from the car to see what mystery illegal item he detectedin our vehicle.
Three Igbo seeds, no be the ordinary type sef, this na Ghana Igb
o,” the officer exclaimed in pidgin while gathering his colleagues to see the marijuana seeds.
Highway Demons
We looked at one another perplexed as the officer declared Sam under arrest. Theyused their guns to show him to their van.In 2009, amnesty international published a report on the extrajudicial executions andother unlawful killings by the Nigerian police. This document explained that there arehundreds of humans in such situations, slain for either failure to pay a bribe or due tothe use of excessive force by police during arrests.According to amnesty international, many officers who carry out these killings claimtheir victims where often robbers trying to escape custody, and because of our failed judicial system majority of these cases close without investigation.That moment made me realize I had forgotten what my sister looked like when shecried. Among us four children, she had always appeared the most put together, soseeing her cry while shoving her phone into the officers face to show them pictures of their babies they’d left at home was new, it also turned out to be an act she hopedwould guarantee our safety.Donworry,” shmouthewhethofficerwerenlooking.Alarms went off in my head whenever the officer touched his gun as he aggressivelytold Sam he was stubborn for denying the two marijuana seeds in the car belonged tous.The officers’ reaction when we insinuated that the alleged seeds belonged to one of them made us realize they had caught us in a bear trap and the only way out wascooperation.“We took the car to the mechanic.” Became our defence as the officers whipped out acamera phone and forced my brother-in-law to admit having marijuana in his car while they recorded.A while ago, I’d read satirical phrases, which included real-life quotes by policeofficers shared by a user named Galactico on a popular Nigerian forum, Nairaland.One of them read,If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.” Possibilities of my sister explaining to my niece and nephew that their dad wouldn’t be coming home, made me sick.
Highway Demons
 Madam you no dey say anything 
?”One officer asked, returning me back to reality. I hadn’t realized I was staring throughhim while all of this played out.“Una no ready,” the officer who planted the seeds said, while mockingly remindingmy sister that her tears meant nothing.An hour passed with us still at the checkpoint, and after a long series of back andforth, they instructed us to get into our vehicle with an armed officer in the driver seat.“Oga please make we settle,” we pleaded while he struggled to put the vehicle in gear. Now ready to name to name his price, he fiddled with the gear little more beforeasking us to put our phones away.“Do you have five hundred thousand,” he asked looking over his shoulder to Sam,who now sat beside me at the back seat.The fact this officer kept reminding us on the ride to the Ugboneki police station thathe was a man of God who had carried out many arrests made me even more anxious,anxious. History has seen a lot of innocent people die in the name of God.Whenever we made the officer an offer, he called the other policemen riding in a black salon Lexus behind us. He spoke in the native language whenever he was on the phone, except for the one time he put the phone on speaker so we heard the person onthe other line tell him to drive us to their headquarters.“Official arrest” the officer said as he drove us by another checkpoint. My eyes metwith that of the officer who drilled our abductors. In that moment, I foolishly thoughtour redemption had arrived in the form of another policeman, before he waved at himto carry on.As our car crawled on the highway leadinto the police station, my sister explainedfurther that we were on our way to our aunts burial, she explained to him howimportant our presence was especiallsince our aunt never got marrieor hadchildren.
You mean say she never do am with man
?” was his response while he chuckled.At the station, a light-skinned officer who followed us from the checkpoint tried tosympathize with us, but he wasn’t fooling anyone.It wasn’t until we arrived at the station that we discovered we weren’t alone, as the black Lexus that tailed behind us belonged to a young man who they also arrested for  possessing an illegal substance.

Highway Demons
My sister in a moment of desperation pulled out a hundred-dollar bill coupled with anextra seven thousand naira and assured the officers that was all the money we had,
“Be like say una never ready, that other man don dey write statement.”
Our abductor told us while pointing at the door leading into the building.One last time, he and his colleagues regrouped, and finally agreed.An hour and thirty minutes was how long they held us between the highway and police station. According to the officers, they only took what we were offering because of God.Every second that passed during our arrest, I felt a knot tighten in my chest as myanxiety, crept in.During this time, I took long breaths that led to the officer tauntingly asking if Isuffered an aliment.
“I go drive you go hospital where you go pay for treatment then carry you back to station.”
Thoughts of the open road have always scared me with no direct reason, other thaninsecurity, but someone found solace in the excessive checkpoints.In minutes my peace became my trigger.I don’t know when next I’ll find myself on the road. My heart beat faster at thethought of travelling back home to Lagos, as my ancestral state has no airport yet.As we left the station, I thought of the owner of the Lexus taken into the building. Iwondereif he woulbe anothestatistic of thyounmeanwomewhomysteriously went missing after being stopped by these demons on our highway

HD by Chika Onubogu by igbo africana on Scribd


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