I was driving slowly in traffic, along the marina towards Victoria Island two days ago, when I saw a group of people scuffling by a car parked on the sand near the waters. There was a policeman in the midst of the group and he appeared really offended. This 'copper' had on a red(?) vest showing he was on traffic detail. Apparently, the motorist was the offending party and quick as lightning, the policeman moved behind him and slapped him. It was a thunderous slap. The motorist, a slim tall man in his thirties, clutched at his face for about 3 seconds and without warning, slapped the policeman too, a reply that matched the velocity and force of the first. I cheered from within my car at the retaliation and watched as the policeman lunged at the motorist and began to grapple with him.
I also saw the other people in the crowd jostling the policeman seeking the courage to rain a few punches and kicks on this "keeper of the laws". A police seargent (female) who had been walking through the traffic to the commotion and then witnessed the mood of the crowd quickly turned back and merged with the scenery. Then the traffic moved and I lost my ringside seat.
The Nigerian Police Farce (sic) is not one that commands respect and a chance to throw a free kick at those sworn "to serve and protect with integrity" is one that many would be glad of. Someday, we'll get proper policemen who have the trust of the people. The policeman in Nigeria today is not your friend.
A day later, at Maryland, Ikeja, I had an altercation with a soldier just by the military cantonment. Neither of us yielded right of way to the other so this private 'somebody' driving his boss's car began to make abusive gestures and I, yielding to my baser nature, did likewise. After a while, he sprang out of his car yelling but kept his distance. I told him in a few unsavoury sentences the exact manner I would like him to leave the road. As other soldiers approached, he gathered courage, and moved closer to me, yelling: "He abused soja!"
As the other soldiers came closer, shouting "Who?", "Who?", I contemplated matter of factly which one of them I'd have to drive over to get out of the situation. An army seargent came close to the car "what happened, Sir?". I'd been in enough uniformed situations to understand he had no interest in my answer. He wanted to 1) Listen to my confidence 2) Smell my "fear" 3) size me up. That was no problem for me. After a few sentences, he told me, "You're a gentleman, Sir. Next time this kind of thing happens, don't bother to reply, just go your way. You know soldiers hate to hear a person is a lawyer". I'd "dropped" my vocation in the midst of the confrontation with the first. This "lawyer thing" is convenient atimes. I don't think "playwright" would have made as much of an impact on the company I had at that particular point.
Traffic had built up by this time and a commercial bus was parked right behind the soldier's car. In the bus, some unfortunate civilian had said something derogatory about the army as he watched my entanglement. I watched as the soldiers peered into the bus, in search of weaker prey. They yelled questions into its darkened interior, compelled the driver to park his vehicle and dragged the offending party out. He had failed "the test" and he was in for it. Then they waved me on, "You go, Sir". As I drove away, I thought to myself, "there but for the grace of God, go I".
Only the strong survive.