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I have made arrangements severally to visit Nigeria, a nation I last visited in 2009, and every time, I change my plans for the dread of the obscure.
I am a Nigerian by birth, a Benin by tribe and bred in the local tradition, the food, the neighbourhood, the clamour, the fight and the uninvited guests that appear at your social event but take an exceptional seat to squander your food and drink.
I missed them all – the uncertainty at a gathering, the day, the night, however, what I didn’t, and haven’t missed, is the dread of boisterous clamours, the call of your neighbours alarmed from their trespassers, the hours it takes the police to show up and conceivable demise that no government official acknowledges.
I grew up in Benin City, the capital city of Edo State, Midwest Region of Nigeria. Growing up, we experienced difficulties, however, not like today. We hoped that Nigeria would improve. We heard this in melodies, religious houses, public speakers and even government authorities.
My last visit to Nigeria was not a decent encounter. I recalled, on my way from Aduwawa in Benin, the individual I am, I chose to take public transport: Big error.
Before the Bridge, I saw a commando-style cut-in. A taxi manned by four individuals, vigorously armed with rifles, vests and seeming as though war officers, highlighted, shouting on top of their voices like somebody high on drugs.
The bus driver strongly halted as the men cut-in against the vehicle, pointing directly at me at the back seat. I realized It was my chance to be kidnapped. Kidnapping is the most rewarding illegal business in Edo State, trailed by Yahoo yippee.
I was hauled out of the bus with slaps rolling in from right to left. I was unable to see anything as I was pushed into their vehicle and dashed off.
The eyewitnesses may have been left with two puzzles: 1. I am a criminal captured by the police 2. I am a casualty of kidnapping. However, as far as I was concerned, there was no distinction since Nigeria police are kidnappers in uniform.
These four men weren’t kidding. They stripped my pockets and took out my wallet. Unfortunately for me, I had quite recently taken about N200,000 from the bank to share with my family. It was yuletide season for Christ sake.
‘You are a crook, you have been on our radar for quite a while’, said one of the men. Indeed, that couldn’t have been possible on the grounds that I landed in Nigeria a day before and arrived Benin that morning. I just went to Aduwawa area to apply for my passport renewal.
To summarise the story, the men later introduced themselves as Nigeria police, discovered I didn’t live in Nigeria, at that point requested I pay them. I bailed myself with N2000 and I threatened to sue them if they requested more. That was a success for me, only one out of every ten Nigerians come out bruised and alive.
Since then, the thought of these men traumatizes me. The idea that I might not return to England safely terrifies me. So, I visit other countries, even prefer Sri Lanka than going home.
The instability in Nigeria deteriorated the second a bigotry man Muhammadu Buhari became the President. The man itself is a danger to the way of life in the south.
There is a day by day report of a homicide in Edo State, youths killing themselves in the name of the gang, which is normally set off by young ladies or prevalence tussle.
The government of the state, the current and the past have remained helpless. The crime spree has continued unabated and the police are unbelievably helpless and scared.
Half a month ago, I talked with the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokomo. We examined issues from the detainees who got away from the correctional facility during the October 19 EndSARS protest to the consistent clamour from families over uncertainty.
Kukomo was unsettled when I asked whether the police were overpowered over the issue. He told me the opposite. ‘we are preparing to release the pictures of the escapees’, Kukomo guaranteed me.
The reality of the situation was, weeks after the prisoners got away, no picture was released. While the police were attempting to rearrest them, asking the public for help, nobody understood what they were searching for.
It is 2021, Mr Kukomo has failed to remember our discussion and nobody has seen the pictures of these individuals. Instability keeps on soaring in the state and a couple of days back, a man who took a stroll in his area was shot dead. That is the degree of insecurity.
On the 31st of December, while everybody was at the Church admitting their 12 months sins, some criminals hijacked a transport driver, constrained him towards Siluko Road, at that point axed and shot him on his head. His family said he didn’t belong to a gang.
The killings are familiar and the most exceedingly awful piece of it was that the driver was left right at the point of the crime for hours, there was no police until Standard Gazette’s journalist called the control room.
Going to Nigeria isn’t simply alarming, it’s a nightmare for me. The last time in Nigeria, I began hearing shot a couple of moments after the Lagos airport. Electricity was only meant for the rich, the roads were terrible, and water was still scared.
I understood all that can cause a psychological breakdown is in Nigeria. The Basic way of life is intended for the rich and the poor is dealt with barbarically. I can’t envision living in such dread and anxiety. The possibility that today may be your last day, the craving, the voracity, the mind-blowing relatives who think they are qualified for everything since you are.
This is 2021, perhaps, this year will be the year I go to Nigeria I dread to visit.