Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Fear of the Nigerian Police

"...Patrick Okoroafor was fourteen years old when he was arrested in May 1995 and arraigned for robbery, a crime he said he never committed. The police later charged him and six others. According to Okoroafor’s brother, the police used pliers to pull out his teeth and he was hanged and beaten while he was in their custody. The brother said: “Patrick only went to the police station because the police wanted to inspect a car our mother had bought from one of the other suspects. That is when they arrested him. We tried to get him released, but the police refused..."

Stories like this make me afraid to walk Nigerian streets at night, or visit a Police Station for whatever reason.

I have heard similar stories so many times that I have developed a rather healthy fear of the Nigerian Police Force. I have also had a close encounter of my own.

I have heard of guys who were arrested in their rooms, and labelled armed robbers on getting to the police station. I have heard of guys who refused to pay bribes and were dragged to police stations, only to be lumped with seasoned criminals and actual murderers. I have a friend who was arrested outside his home and taken to a police station, where he was made to take pictures with six other guys; the next day, they were labelled armed robbers in a newspaper.


I have a simple principle these days... I never stay out late, and I do all in my power to avoid police trouble. In the event that I am stopped while driving, I am so respectful to policemen - you would think they paid my fees through University. I avoid areas where 'gangs' are known to hang out, and I generally dress and walk smartly when I have to pass through trouble-spots. Till further notice, if you live in Nigeria - I advice that you do likewise - and trust God to protect you always.

Read the story of Patrick Okorafor, who was sentenced to death at 16 for armed robbery, a crime he supposedly committed at 14 here.

To read about how officers of the Nigerian Police stormed my hostel room at night and arrested two roommates who were working with laptop computers, labeling them 'Economic Fraudsters' - please follow the link.

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