Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The good Lord helps those who........

Arrived at MMIA last week with a friend from the UK. He was met in the arrivals hall by a protocol officer to help smooth his way through. As we were waiting for our luggage the chap asked him how many bags he had. "Four", he replied, "will this be a problem with the Customs people?". Without missing a beat the chap said "no, we will just tell them that you are a pastor returning from a crusade". Huh?

Sure enough after collecting the bags they made their way to the exit door where they were met by a stern looking Custom's official. He put his hand on the trolley and told them they had to step to one side for inspection. The protocol office then said to him "Oga, this man is a pastor with the Redeemed Church and he is just returning from a crusade abroad" all the while flashing my friend's Nigerian passport in the man's face. The Customs officer then took one look at my friend and waved them through.

Outside they burst out laughing. Why? Well if he had checked the Custom's man would have seen that my friend's name was Abdul Hammed XXXXXXX. Surely even in Nigeria this would have roused some suspicions? Or maybe not? Is there some law that I have missed that says members of the clergy (regardless of their faith) are immune from Customs checks? What if the bags were filled with guns, drugs, body parts? Na wa o.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Enemy Within .....Epilogue

The matter is sorted. Things have been "settled". We hold our breaths that there is no further comeback.

Yesterday my sister reeceives the following text from one of the settled - "Hi Madam, hw is family n work? Suppose wonderful. I want 2 say AM impressed d way u handled that ordeal with maturity n with high sense of understanding. I say well done. Keep it up. If we r having your kinds I don't dere (sic) will be problem in this country. Well done I do appreciate u. Do have a wonderful day." I am assuming that by "your kinds" he means the kind that come come up with half a year's salary at a moment's notice.

We learn that since the superiors have been settled it is now time for them to take action. The original instigator is to investigated about his role in our "ordeal". I assume there will be further "settlement" involved before the matter is fully em...settled. We also learn that the wound to his head was sewn up without benefit of any pain killer or anesthetic. It is hard to feel pity but how can you be human and not?

The mallam meanwhile is now doubly cautious before opening our gate. A lesson we have been trying to teach him for years. Life.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Enemy within...

My mum's driver was turning into the house a few days ago. Apparently he has his earpiece in for his phone and might have been on a call. As he was turning in a chap on a motorbike started banging on the side of the car asking "did you not see me?". The driver said "who are you?" and drove into the compound after the mallam had opened the gate assuming that this was another one of those 30 second Lagos dramas.

The mallam closed the gate and was in the process of locking it when there was a loud banging on the gate. He opened to to say "aha what is going on?" only to be met by a slap to the face and several blows followed. In defence he swung still with the padlock for the gate in his hand and hit the slapper on the head. The padlock made contact and drew blood. At no point as far as I am aware were they aware that the slapper was an Army officer.

Roll film forward ten to fifteen minutes and our compound is full of army men physically assaulting the mallam. Numerous attempts by family members to save him are rebuffed. The driver has to make a run for it in order to avoid the same treatment. The mallam is seriously assaulted and dragged off in an army vehicle. All hell breaks loose as my family desperately spend the rest of the day trying to find him. He is later located at a Barracks close to Yaba where he is found with his hands tied and and hanging from the ceiling.

The soldiers who have been recruited to escort my sister to the barracks (no policeman is prepared to take the risk) are given a dressing down and told never to show their faces there again with regards this matter. My family members are told it is too late to discuss the matter as the person in charge has gone for the evening and they are told to return in the morning.

This morning my sister decides to go to the family house early to make sure that our poor mother (father has travelled , thank God) has not faced any further harassment. There had been murmurings from the soldiers of coming back to burn the house down and to find the driver by all means. She is met by a group of Military Police who say they have come to arrest the mallam's employer. She is asked to step into a black maria type vehicle which she refuses as she is not a criminal and declares that she will travel in her own car to the barracks.

At the barracks she is asked to write a statement after which she is asked to pay N60k for the offense. She does not have that kind of money on her in cash and she is asked to bring it tomorrow. On the way out she is accosted by one of the officers "dealing" with the case and told that they would prefer a top of the range mobile phone rather than the money. She says she would rather pay the cash rather than try and choose a "top of the range" phone from the numerous models in the market.

The mallam is released and is sent home with my sister after she signs an undertaking.She is left in no doubt as to what could happen if she does not show up tomorrow morning with the money sharpish. I ask her if the mallam is seriously injured from the assault. She says that one of the Army men told her that we would not find any bruises on his body because they have been trained in a way that they can torture and cause internal damage without leaving any obvious signs. The mallam is on his way to hospital for a check up.

Ths has caused no end of suffering and anguish and distress to my mother. She is over 70 years old and would not hurt a fly. The past three days have taken months if not years off her life. All for a simple driving incident in which no one was hurt or property damaged.

This is not fiction. This is real. This is Lagos, Nigeria. October 15th 2009. 49 years after our independence. 49 years since we have been "free". Good people. Great nation. Indeed.