The Nigeria police extorting innocent Nigerians isn’t news. It has gotten so bad over the years that they have grown bolder with their moves. Insisting civilians make a cash transfer to their personal account or taking them to withdraw money at an ATM. Today, I spoke with 6 Nigerian women about their encounter with the Nigerian police.
I was going to Ikorodu so I had to use the bus from Ojota. I wore a baggy jumper and a crop top that was just over my belly. When I got to Ojota garage, the agberos there started catcalling me. This alerted the police that had a check-up stand around the area. A policeman approached me and tried to arrest me. I was not having it. Meanwhile, the agberos and petty traders were still roaring in “righteous indignation”. He told me to go speak to his boss in the Hilux. I went, greeted the man, told him I wasn’t sure why everyone was shouting nor why I was being interrogated by his officer. He started laughing, casually opened a canister of teargas and emptied it on my forehead and face and then told me to go. My face and eyes burned the whole day.
My friends and I went clubbing. On our way back, the Police stopped our car and threatened to take us to the police station. Now that I think about it, I am not sure if they were really policemen or SARS officers because they weren’t wearing any uniform and they came in a rickety bus. Anyway, they put us in their bus and start driving around. Our male friends in another car called us and start freaking out. The police people said they were taking all of us because we were prostitutes and didn’t have ID. Money came out and they let us go. I heard some girls got arrested and slept in a cell.
I wasn’t sure if they were police or SARS cause they weren’t wearing a uniform but I know it was past midnight and I was attending a house party with my girlfriends. When they flagged out car down, I was scared because they were holding guns and we had recreational marijuana on us. They flagged our car down and our of reflex or fear I get jamming the doors locked when the bolt driver tried to open it. They searched the car and couldn’t find anything.
After calling us prostitutes and focusing squarely on us and not even the Bolt driver, they decided to search us. I didn’t quite get it until one tried to touch me and I swerved. My friend got on her knees and started pleading in Yoruba, trying to get all friendly with them. I wasn’t going to allow them to touch us some type of way but I wasn’t going to kneel down either. The whole experience was just horrible. They took our 10k and called us lesbians. I later found the weed under the passenger seat lmao. I knew my Yoruba mother’s prayers on my head was working.
I was returning from a party with my girlfriends when the police stopped us. I could tell from his slurred speech that he had been drinking. He called us prostitutes and told us to come down from our uber. He searched my bag looking for drugs and then pointed his gun at me. Saying it was us Arewa girls that like to stay naked under our jalamia. There was traffic along that berger road because of us. His colleagues had to step in and apologise for his behaviour. Even then, he kept pointing his gun at me talking about wasting prostitutes like me. It didn’t matter that I had a long flowing gown and my scarf on.
I was on my way back home from the mall, where I went to buy new headphones. As I turned to Agidingbi, in Ikeja, I noticed some random bus following me. I didn’t think too much of it until the bus started speeding up towards me. Because I am paranoid as hell I turned away from my initial way home, and they followed. That’s when I was sure they were trailing me I sent my location to my friends and a description of the bus in case something happened to me. It was getting ridiculous after a few more turns so I parked.
As soon as I parked, one of them jumped in front of my car and pointed his gun at me. Another one tried to open the door to my car but it was locked. Then they started shouting, “why were you running?” I was so confused, I was like “why were you following me?” They said something about how I fit the description of an accomplice for some yahoo boys around the area because of my nose ring and face.
They didn’t even do the routine Nigerian police “may we meet you,” they just asked me to open my car door and get out. I mean, I had to because they had guns. They then proceeded to turn my car upside down in the name of a stop and search. It was so annoying. I remember asking what they were looking for and worrying that they’d plant drugs in my car or something, they didn’t even have an answer.
When they couldn’t find anything, they tried to search my body and insisted I opened my phone for them to check for “evidence”. They saw that I had shared my location with friends and they also saw an article I had been sharing with my contacts from the day before. It was that period a member of the TECH community accused SARS officers of extorting him, I had covered the story. It was so weird because SARS stopped me and saw my article about ENDSARS.
I identified myself as a journalist. The article pissed them off so much they let me go.
So I went to computer village one time with my cousin. We were about to leave when a man, that wasn’t in uniform, stopped us and asked where we were going. We said we were going home. He asked for our phones and after going through it asked where I got the money to buy an Iphone. I told him my mother bought it for me.
He started talking about taking me to the police station for questioning. I didn’t argue with him. I said “okay but I’d have to call my mom first.” He asked who my mother was and I told him to wait that he’ll soon find out. He started fidgeting and asked me to just settle him. Luckily, I didn’t have any cash on me. He asked me to withdraw and I said I didn’t have a card. I had to open my purse to show him the 200 Naira in it. He still took the money.
Names were changed to protect the identity of the women.