Mr Sogunle’s dissonance

A few days ago, a former spokesman of Nigeria’s police, Yom Shogunle, tweeted something regarding the current palaver in the US regarding African-Americans and their police.

The lack of self-awareness in Mr Shogunle’s tweet is stunning. It is true that American police forces are brutal towards African Americans, but at the same time, you can see genuine attempts at introspection and improvement.

Are they there yet? No, at all. History does not move in a straight line, and when they make some gains, they tend to regress as reactionary forces pushback. However, overall, life is much better for the average African American now than it was during Jim Crow.

Now compared to the Nigerian Police, let me ask a question. Do American police forces help to rob their citizens? My answer is no, but permit me to tell a story…

On 20 November 2011, I was working at the Daily Times and had just attended the Miss Nigeria pageant, which ended late at night. Upon getting home to where I was living at the time in Ojodu, there were armed men with assault rifles, eight of them in front of my compound.

I clocked the situation and immediately realised that I was about to be robbed. The story was told on Nairaland, and just as well because the old Daily Times site disappeared.

I’ll paste the whole thing here for posterity’s sake:

Robbers lay siege at Ojodu, kill 1

The online editor of DailyTimes was also robbed and beaten up in the operation which lasted for hours
Article | November 21, 2011–6:53am | By Emmanuel Chidiogo

The online editor of DailyTimes was robbed in the early hours of Saturday. Cheta Nwanze, who lives in the Ojodu area of Lagos, had his car stolen as well as his laptop computer and other valuables.

To add to his ordeal, he was beaten up by the robbers, tied up and dumped in a primary school nearby.

The robbers had started their operation earlier that night on Aina Street, Ojodu and had free rein to operate for hours. Nwanze’s landlord, Alhaji Abiola Sani, had reported the presence of robbers in
the area to the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad, but no one came for hours.

Eventually, some policemen from the Ojodu police station arrived but by that time, the robbers were nowhere to be found. The police left after concluding that the robbers had gone.

No sooner had the police departed than the robbers reemerged and began firing at Alhaji Sani’s residence. They emptied entire magazines on the place and in the process, Alhaji Sani’s wife was hit in the arm.

A resident of Aina Street, a doctor whose identity is yet to be released, was returning from his night shift and ran into the robbers. They promptly emptied bullets into his car and killed him on the spot.

Nwanze, who all this time was hostage in the primary school , eventually managed to make his escape at dawn. The robbers, meanwhile, were involved in a gun battle with the police along the Berger roadafter which they made good their escape. None of them was harmed.

There are three things that I’ll never forget from that experience: First, the assault rifles the robbers had clearly had blue, yellow and green markings.

Second, when my landlord called the police by cellphone to report, the robbers conveniently disappeared until after the police squad had gone. They were with me in the school where I was tied up.

Third, when the police squad left, the robbers went straight to my compound and emptied a hail of bullets specifically at my landlord’s flat. How else would they have known WHO alerted the police about their operation?

When they left, taking my car and leaving the body of the unfortunate Dr behind, the police conveniently showed up. I gave myself some sense, remained where I was beaten, tied up and hidden, with the corpse, until dawn. Given the bad habits of our policemen, I had no intention of being displayed on the news as a trophy. Yes, they could very easily have shot me, and then pretended that I was one of the robbers. No one would have ever known my story.

The really annoying part was this: because at the time I was a journalist, the robbery was reported on Daily Times, Smooth FM, Punch, YNaija and Nigeria Info, so the police took finding my car a bit seriously. It was found a week later, accidented and with bullet holes in it. But can you guess what my friends at Ojodu police station did?

They still extracted ₦18,000 from me before I could get a tow truck (which they provided for ₦10,000) to take my car to the mechanic for repairs. Some friendly police force indeed…

See, I grew up in Benin in the 1990s. I have plenty of police tales to tell including extrajudicial killings, and some torture I witnessed. For a policeman in Nigeria to come and be condemning American police has got to be the most disgusting thing for one to wake up to.

Nonsense!

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Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.