Sunday, November 18, 2007

Once Upon Two Robbers

I stood outside my home last night receiving a quick call. Apart from my regular cell-phone, I have a 'mobile' landline, like most Lagosians. A starcomms phone that has a fading signal when calls come through within the concrete enclave called my flat. So I walked out of the apartment, and out of the compound and stood just before the gate, watching passersby as I spoke.

I live in Lagos, so it should surprise no one that the transformer that supplied electricity to my street had been whisked away by power officials about a week before. It had a fault and we have no idea when/if we will get it back.

The noises of generators from all four flats had pushed me to step out of the house and onto the pitch-dark street to carry on my conversation.
There's something about my road, not many houses on it, but it has a bar that attracts all sorts. Three roads lead off the road as well. I love my home, even though I think I pay far too much as rent, the present set of tenants are the first ever to inhabit the practically new house. However, I dislike the road its on, too busy atimes and I know the secluded interior of the compound attracts the attention of those walking by.

So I stood talking by the dark road last night, seeing but not registering the man who stood five metres across the road from me. As I spoke on the phone, it suddenly struck me, that on this dark empty part of the road, the man who had stood casually opposite my gate was only about 2 and half metres away and walking rapidly towards me. A little to his side and behind, there appeared to be another man also approaching me.

I swore into the phone, "f&*%$&g s*&t" (I'm not given to swearing) and without thinking swung to my left in the direction of the bar and walked rapidly towards it and its bright lights calling our hausa security guard who sat with his hausa friend who sells sweets outside the neighbouring house, as I walked. My sudden movement appeared to startle the stranger approaching me and I could see for a few brief moments, he was undecided as what to do. He actually stood in front of our gate, just staring. Alhaji, our guard heard me furiously calling his name and rushed up asking what the matter was. I pointed to the men. By the time Alhaji got there, they had disappeared into the darkness.

What would have happened? I'd have been led into the house, gun pressed into the small of my back. I might have been asked to get my neighbours to open their doors too. Many things could have happened. My friend was robbed like that a couple of years ago, three streets away. Some young men followed someone into his apartment and held them all up at gun-point. My house isn't as accessible to srangers but I won't be so careless again. My brother, Jinta, when on holiday, is always bemused that I study passersby when he and I go around Lagos. You see why now, bro?

The moral of the story? Open your eyes wide no matter where you live. Don't sit in parked cars or stand casually in uncertain areas to make phone calls. And remember, only the paranoid survive.

28 comments:

Jinta said...

I guess it is befitting that I make the first comment. Learned a lot from you, Las Papi, Mayor of Lagos, still learning. As I read your post, my mind raced back to how many times I stood in that same spot you described, making phone calls.

Uzo said...

Oh my...

What a lucky one....But really...at night, on your own gisting into the phone?

Tut Tut,...

Isi said...

laspapi i dey vex o! i drop comments, u either don't reply or u don't paste. whata gwan?!
then worst of all, u haven't been to my playground for ages!
*sulking*

Omosewa said...

LOL@calling Alhaji, i used to do that...you were even close to home, i used to yell 'Uncle David' (geez, i had many 'uncles' sha, lol) from the next street when i noticed anyone weird around me. Good thing you're okay...maybe your phone is very 'heavy'??

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

My God Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I am happy you are safe.

Nicky said...

It does make you wonder. As a female I am always alert. However, I try not to be paranoid because I think the mind is powerful and it is easy to materialise something negative. Then again, the madness and desperation of people is ever increasing.

laspapi said...

@ jinta- 'Mayor of Lagos', I think I'll take that title. Yes, it struck me that I was in your favourite phone postion. It was a warning for us...

@ uzo- uzo, I was standing outside my house now!

@ isi- look, 'dont annoy'. T'ings have been heavy, just shedding the load. I'm coming to the playground tonight.

@ omosewa- child of beauty, the phone was a regular starcomms as cheap as they come and it was even too dark for them to make it out. I think they really wanted to enter apartments and needed a guide.

@ catwa'q- Thank you, love.

@ nicky- you gotta err on the side of caution, paranoia is a good thing in Lagos. I really have to be more careful when my brother's around now, he's more casual about such stuff.

shola pacheco said...

papi,thank God for ur life ho and let them leave a message if no reception,voicemail is far better than falling prey to those good for nothing peeps ho,being paranoid dey pay most times,u dont end up with surprises

stay cool egbon won le nu nbe(had f9 in yors now i dey write like say i study am

Tayo said...

Na wa o!
"... and without thinking swung to my left ..." I first thought I saw "swung a punch to the one on my left" lol.
Thank God you survived that one o. I hope the new policemen being requested by Fashola will upgrade the security conditions in this state.

Jaycee said...

wow, thank God nothing happened to u. U acted really fast too...very smart. Lolll.

Back in the day, a similar tale occurred in my Lagos house. I was lurking downstairs (and the gate was not fully lurked)...all of a sudden two strangers strolled inside pretending to be looking for someone. Lo and behold...they were thieves...

We really need to be aware of our surroundings at ALL times...

For the love of me said...

Glad you are safe, In Lagos, you can't but be paranoid.

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

u sef dey feel like i dont even know, Olorun lo yo yin o egbon, otherwise na another thingw e for dey talk, u got to be more careful than that!!! if not that u were being a cheap skate sef, u should have just sat in ur living rooma nd called d person back no?? Lol!! see u on sunday.

30+ said...

Lasp, you turn action man one time. Thank God for safety.

Sherri said...

wow!
talk about a close encounter!
ifura logun agba o
paranoia ke?

laspapi said...

@ shola pacheco- won l'enu mbe, shola. I'm cured of standing outside now. I'll sit indoors and watch old Martin re-runs.

@ tayo- swung a punch, ke? I'd only do that in a situation I could be guaranteed an unhindered departure. My hackles rose as I moved KNOWING they were only seconds away from saying "Stop there".

@ jaycee- that incident at your place must have been a traumatic one. I've had a few close shaves but I'm always checking doors, locking up, that kind of thing. Being aware of one's surroundings will save lives and property.

@ for the love of me- thanks, FTLOM. Lagos requires vigilance.

@ 36"- God did it, 36". But call back? Starcomms fumbles in my house irrespective of if I'm calling or being called. It also scrambles my Cable TV signal etc Often better for me to take a short walk. I'm cured sha.

@ 30+ is it a bird? is it a plane? No, it's laspapi!

@ sherri- ifura/paranoia? Aren't they six of one and half a dozen of the other? How you dey, Sherri?

My 2 cents said...

I guess robbery armed or unarmed is universal and can't be ascribed to Lagos alone but the level of insecurity in that country is really alarming. Thank God you survived the ordeal and pls be more careful in future.

Atutupoyoyo said...

Lagos is one place where you can't be paranoid enough sef. It is the same with any major city in the world. But Lagos na different level

~Mimi~ said...

oh no groupie...

be careful oh!!

(sorry i've really been MIA!)

2ndCorin5:17 said...

hmmm, thank God nothing happened 2 u

Omosewa said...

Laspapiscosco,update nah. I watched "love sex and marriage" today, and almost jumped outta my seat when i saw your name as the writer. It's one of the nicest Naija-english movies i've seen, i couldnt stop laughing. I loved Fred Amata in the role...the "noodles" part was really cracking me up, lmaoooo...Nice!! I trust you're having a nice weeekend, have fun for two, i have many essays to hand in...then i'll be freeeee, hehehe.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

lmao@only the paranoid survive.. GOd save those of us whey never sabi that system... i might have to take your alhaji away from you this christmas oh... shoot i think my potatoes are burning.... crapppppp

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

ok, we thank God for your life and superman moves...where is the Girl Whisperer for this week?

laspapi said...

@ my 2 cents- Thank you for the good wishes, 2 Cents. There's lot that has to be done about Nigerian security but I'll try to be more careful.

@ atutupoyoyo- I love my country, I no go lie...

@ ~mimi~ I cant explain these absences of yours anymore. How've you been, ~idol~?

@ 2ndCorin5:17- I thank God too.

@ omosewa- Do you know I haven't seen that movie yet, beautiful child? I wrote it for Fred about 3 or 4 years ago and he used Kate Henshaw in it. I'll go find it.

@ Storm- I'll be your "Alhaji". It's finally coming to pass, Storm? The trip we've waited so long for? The Suya date nko?

@ Catwalq- Haven't you been following? The Guardian's been on strike for a couple of weeks now. I guess I'll post the next one now, though.

2ndCorin5:17 said...

HOLD UP!!!
Laspapi U WROTE Love, Sex & Marriage??
Wow!!!! Very very noooiiiccceeee! I love that movie, its a different one indeed... U shud do sth with Tade Ogidan...
U shud have a movie in the International Film Festival mehn, like "Thunder Magun" (or did u write that one too?)
Most of all, U shud be my mentor!!!

Please Please Please, when u get a chance check out my poetry!!! DUDE!! I NEED 2 TALK WITH U!!!! Sharply!

Prousette said...

reminds me of our own Nairobbery of a city.
Thank God you are safe though.

Could we have the girl whisperer here anyway, unless you too are on strike.

kokolette said...

Na wah o!
This thief thief story for Lagos don tire me o.
I'm glad you were fine sha...that was grace!
Take care

Noni Moss said...

Shit. That must have been scary and one has to be extra sharp nowadays. Ahhh man - you're making me scared to go back to Nigeria again.

laspapi said...

@ 2ndCorin5:17- Glad you have an interest in these things. My E-Address is at the top of the profile page.

@ Prousette- Nairobbery, prousette? Good one, made me laugh. The Whisperer will be updated soon.

@ kokolette- Thank you for the kind words, Hope you've been fine.

@ noni moss- I cannot lie, I've missed you and your ability to cuss out any erring drivers when you're in Lagos, visiting. Thank you for stopping by, noni.