My dad was a police officer, and even God knew how much I hated his job.
I hated that every evening, his junior officers who had been sent out on patrol came back with loads of rumbled cash. And one of my chores as an officer’s daughter was to sit down, straighten out the notes, arrange them neatly (I still arrange money in my wallet in that manner) and count.
These men had daily/weekly targets. My dad had his cut. His immediate boss had a cut. The immediate boss of his immediate boss did as well, on and on till it got to the top. Don’t ask me who’s at the top, please.
My dad had a habit of handing us our school fee in cash before taking it to the bank to pay. He made us count it and would go on to tell us that was the least he had to pay to give us the needed education. It was his way of telling us to face our studies. But because my dad knew how much I hated his job, he would say to me, “You can hate my job all you want but that’s what feeds you and pays your school fees”.
Therefore, whenever I had to straighten out and count the N20 notes brought by his men, I would swallow my hatred, sprinkle anointing oil on the money, and pray to God that all the curses made on it not stand.
It definitely wasn’t my favourite thing to do.
Back in uni, for three consecutive years, I was arrested and harassed by policemen on my birthday for being in the company of young people who, according to the police, force looked too fresh, had girls in their car (hence we must be prostitutes), or simply drove nice cars they were certain we couldn’t afford.
They would waste our time and still extort us of large sum of money after subjecting us to inhumane treatments. A female officer once pressed my boobs right there at the counter, in front of many people, saying, “No be this small breast dey make you do yanga? E no even reach my own. You think say you be fine girl abi? No be why you wan useless yourself dey follow yahoo boys?”
It took all of my self-restraint and home training not to scratch her ugly face with my fingers. I wanted to cry, but my friends said not to give her that satisfaction. I’d never been that embarrassed.
I thought about calling my dad, but God forbid that I let them know I had a police officer like them as a father.
I loved my dad, with all of my heart, but I hated his job. Oh, you have no idea how much. And for the life of me, I didn’t want to be identified as “Omo olopa”.
This #policebrutality didn’t start today and I doubt that the announcement to #EndSARS will change anything. A whole lot more has to be done, and oh my dearests, it’s such a long ride. The entire system needs an overhaul. But this is a start, and we cannot afford to relent.
Do you know how many Nigerian youths are locked up at the station for doing nothing; absolutely nothing, other than being a Nigerian youth? It is apparently a crime to be young in my dear country. You dare not be fashionable or own an electronic gadget, because the policemen will ask you how you can afford such when they can’t, on their meagre salary.
I am trying to be optimistic. I am hoping for a real change and for the #ReformTheNigerianPolice because that is the only way we can #EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria.
But dear Nigerians, I urge you, please don’t get carried away by any announcement made. Until we see the change we desire, let’s not back down or give up. #AlutaContinua 💪