By Chike Henry Okolo
Sunday, Nov. 19 2017, was a dark day in my life and the life of many other Nigerians, as it relates to Community Policing by The Nigeria Police.
The incident took place in Asaba, Delta State. The road block was mounted on the road to Jarrett. (That is the road opposite Federal College junction). Their vehicle plate number: NPF 2260. Their names are ASP Johnson Ehiezobor (leader of the team), Ndidi, Friday and one other. All from C Division, in Asaba.
Details of the incident: Sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, I left my house to buy Sunday papers and at the same time check if my washer man/dry cleaner (who opens sometimes on Sunday afternoon), is available, so I can pick my clothes, ready for the week.
The dry cleaners office is located on Jarrett road. I bought Newspapers at the junction and drove to his office. On my way I met with this team. We greeted and was passed on. No incident as I was going. My cleaners office was shut, so in about 7 minutes, here I was back again to that same spot. There was a tricycle (keke) ahead of my vehicle. That was stopped. I stopped behind it. The keke rider was talking with the Police man, Patrick. (It is noteworthy to remember that it is not the Officer that stopped you as you were going, that would also stop you as you are coming. They are two different individuals, with different levels of competence and temperament).
After about two minutes behind the keke, I tapped my horn lightly, (in my mind I was thinking if there would be a full blown discussion, the keke should be packed off the road so they can talk). As if tapping the horn was a crime, the leader of the team shouted that I should come and park and bring “my particulars”. (He was a few meters away). I drove up to him in compliance, after the keke moved on.
At that very moment he engaged another Police officer in a discussion, albeit in a conspiratorial tone, ignored my offer of “good afternoon”, and kept me waiting another five minutes. A lot of thoughts flew through my mind and I decided the best thing was to park my car off the road, lock it up, and go home by keke. That was what I did.
At my age, am no longer in perfect health. I needed to take my medication, calm /rest my nerves from the undue stress and find a way to rationalize it. I took a shower and went back to the spot by keke, some minutes to 5:00 pm. The moment I alighted, the most humiliating assault and battery, I have ever received in my life, ensued.
ASP Johnson Ehiezobor, hit me from behind with both hands. Shouting that today he will kill “my enemy”. As I didn’t fall after my stagger, he rushed me and continued hitting me at the chest region. I did not want to hit back. I could only shout out, that passers by, have seen what is going on, that I did not do anything to him/them and I have not breached any known Nigerian Law.
When I reached for my phone to make a call he wrestled it from me. He was shouting that he must kill my enemy and was swearing by all the deities in his clan. Supported by all the men in his team, I was treated like a common criminal until the intervention of a crowd of about 30 persons.
These men and woman, who gathered because of how they saw me being pummeled, are the Heroes of Nigeria. Many of them made calls to different individuals. Some top members of the PCRC came to the scene. They were the eventual peace makers after numerous phone calls, my car was eventually searched, my particulars checked, my phone returned, and I drove home.
There are many lessons for us all. An ASP boasting that he has spent 26 years to get to that position, with “all his connections”, that if he kills my enemy, nothing will happen. I restrained myself from responding: that if I joined The Nigeria Police, after graduation in 1982, I wouldn’t know what rank I would be in 2017. A solid 35 years after.