As everyone exchanged “HAPPY New Year” messages on 1st January 2011, the SMS from my Venerable Father was … “Thieves broke into our house on New Year Eve while I was away to church with Shola, harassed mummy who was alone in the house, made away with many valuables including my Compaq EVO Computer”. I called him immediately, mused about the state of insecurity in the country as a whole assured him we are fine, no backlash on the death of Oyo State NURTW’s Eleweomo. He heaved a sign of relief. I promised to be with them on Sunday Morning – together with my family, as a mark of solidarity.
Sunday Morning, we all got into the car and had a nice trip to Ilorin. I did not forget my usual “Akara Ogbomoso”. We saw the bruise on the poor woman’s face, reviewed the pictures of the house and the damages caused by the gun-totting rogues. Venerable then spent time examining his grandchildren on Economics …. Monopoly, Oligopoly, Price Elasticity, Labor and the theories of Adam Smith. Yours truly could only interject asking when the discussions will shift to voltage and current. I lost!
We had planned to launch our remaining fireworks and rockets in the evening, if only to let the rogues know that “the marines have landed”, but Venerable pleaded we should not make a racket, since his nice and friendly neighbor is a very senior police officer who may not find our mortal-like fireworks funny. An information that will later save us.
I was particularly not in a hurry to leave on Monday, but knowing I had to work on Tuesday, I told madam and the Kids that we should leave just before noon. We had promised Aunty Rose and Uncle Richard my younger sister and her husband that we will will stop by, since they also live in Ilorin. My Cousin Kunle came around just to say Hello. I announced our departure on schedule, but Venerable insisted that we pray again. He spent almost 30 minutes praying for God’s mercy and protection over us all in the New Year. We all chorused Amen.
From Fate Area, we decided to use the Maraba route. At the Omolola roundabout, I was careful. I stopped then carefully rolled forward. The closest car had not even entered the round-about at the other end. Now, this roundabout is funny. It is really a six-lane Dual-carriage T-Junction, with a round about at the middle. Those going straight really have no turn to make.
Like a bat out of hell, two Mobile Police Men (MOPOL) riding a motorcycle shot out from behind that closest car, traveling at not less than 140kmph. I was rolling at about 40kmph. I had clearly gone beyond the third lane, into the roundabout when we heard a loud bang. The motorcycle hit our car from the rear, throwing its riders onto the road! I stopped, we ran out and together with other passersby examined the situation. The passenger on the bike got on his feet, but the rider had passed out and immobile. Fearing the worst, we scrambled him into the car and headed for the nearest hospital (Omolola) just 200 meters away.
As I carried him from the car into the hospital, Rider was reeking of every type of drink including Ogogoro, Kaikai, Seaman, Sepe, Otin and every known exciter. He came around when a nurse started taking his pulse. Because he did not have any health insurance, and did not know if there was a police hospital that will treat them, I volunteered to pay the bill, if only to save a life. I called my cousin who was at home to come over, hoping to get more money from him. Instead of agreeing to the treatment, The two MOPOLs conversed in low tones for a long time, and finally spoke that they will want the police to come and investigate the accident.
Sensing danger, the Doctor warned me to just pay whatever I have, and leave for him to take care of Rider, because when his colleagues come, they will turn the case upside down, and working with their kinsmen the police, I will be delayed from traveling back to my base and probably locked up. I thought he was reviewing a script out of Nollywood, but I am not Saint Obi!! I discussed with my wife who agreed, so we made a deposit. She observed that Passenger was loitering at the hospital gate, talking furiously on his phone. 5 minutes later Burly, a very tall and burly MOPOL arrived, and went upstairs to see Rider. As we made to leave, Burly charged back, opened my door, tried to grab the car keys, which I quickly passed to my wife on the other side. Hell was let loose. He threatened to burn the car if I do not hand over the keys, harm my wife and generally make life unpleasant for us all. Promptly, Doctors, Nurses and patients had gathered, appealing to the bull in the china Shop. He pulled his phone and called for reinforcement.
The friendly Doctor advised that we should call people we know, because this is their stock-in-trade. He warned it will turn out nasty. My Wife called “Yours in the Army” I called “Chair” asking if he knew the Commissioner of Police. He said Yes, I should let him make calls and he will call me back. On my cousin’s advise, I called Venerable to come with Friendly Neighbor the Police Officer. At that point, my phone battery went south. Neighbor arrived before Chair and the boys in the Army, and that averted the murder of the suicide rider!
Meticulously, Neighbor asked me questions, to ascertain what happened, and then asked Burly whether he is the accident victim or an eye witness? Burly gave a negative to both. neighbor then asked what was his interest in the matter, wondering what the force was turning into? Burly made to speak in English, then launched into Hausa. Neighbor followed Suit, insisting he is an interloper and a disgrace to the police force. Seeing he was defeated, Burly carefully left to resume his vigil at the hospital gate, together with Passenger, making frantic calls. They were seriously insulted and jeered by the crowd who kept asking … “We begged you in the name of God you refused … so you can bow to Man? So this calm man sabi highly placed people, Yet he did not boast that he will match your force with fire? Ahhh see hunter being hunted!! So … this is how to deal with you animals?” and so on.
10 minutes later, a Traffic officer who we will call IPO arrived from the closest Station – Kulende. I later found out it was on the orders of Burley’s squad leader. IPO announced that they wanted me at the station, together with the car in response to a drunken charge leveled against me. I screamed NEVER! Neighbor stepped forward and introduced himself to IPO, and promised not to interfere but will like to observe that justice was done. He offered to take all parties to the accident spot but rider who was already on IV drip was left in the hospital. Burly had disappeared, but passenger came along.
When we got to the spot, neighbor confirmed from passenger and got IPO to note the place of impact, which still had fragments of my rear light, and the fact that rider did not wait at the stop sign. Neighbor asked .. So what should the conclusion be? IPO announced satisfaction. Neighbor then asked what the procedure should be? IPO said … “parties should attempt to settle out of the station, and the police will only get involved, if parties do not reach a settlement”. Neighbor asked the IPO to state who she believes should be aggrieved. At that point, IPO pointed to me. Neighbor then staged a drama, and asked why I offered to pay their medical bill, when they should indeed be fixing my car with their salaries?
Some four MOPOLs who had been watching the proceeding at earshot decided to interrupt Neighbor at that point, asking to contribute to the discussions. He lost his temper, asked if anyone invited them to the discussion, and how dare they could be interfering with a gentleman who retired as an AIG 12 years ago!! He asked what their units were, who their commander was, as he thinks he will want to have a word with him as part of the process of cleansing the force. Promptly, they disappeared just the way they appeared. Chair joined us at this point, worried that my phone was off, he came as an advance party get the facts for the Commissioner of Police. It is good to have friends o!!
We returned to the hospital, to meet the detachment of Soldier boys rallied by “Yours in the Army”, waiting to confirm whether the distant MOPOLs touched me or my wife, so that they can show them exactly how not to beat the “friend” of a Soldier. According to them, they will have beaten the silly guy out of the coma. I was really scared! Thank God, Neighbor already saved the day, averting a needless bloodbath in Ilorin. We exchanged numbers and parted ways. Venerable volunteered to drop off IPO, since it is the same station he reported the burglary in the first instance.
We finally left the hospital, four hours after the drama began, could not see Aunty Rose and got back to Ibadan a little before sunset. I am now richer with Neighbor, Doctor and Soldier boys as friends.
If a MOPOL ever runs into you, please start making frantic calls. Its a game of who-knows-who and you had better not be found wanting. Doctor called me when he discharged Rider and I have since called Chair and Neighbor to say “Thanks” and I will be playing Tombola with the soldier boys, on my next visit to Ilorin