By Amarachi Okpunobi
Have you taken cognisance of the incessant bribe our armed forces collect from their fellow citizens as they discharge their duties daily? Have you also noticed how they leave the ignorant people at their mercy? In fact, none of the forces are left out, from the least to the highest, everyone is corrupt. No exceptions. Apart from them, I think the whole system needs deliverance from the spirit of bribery and corruption if there is any such thing like that.
Some weeks back, I went to a court around here and got the shock of my life. I had actually wanted to make a correction for my name. Prior to that, my colleagues had warned me of the surprise package that awaited me at the court.
When I arrived, I met some vibrant young men at the gate who looked like they were the good Samaritans being spoken of in the Bible. They all wanted to help me with the correction of name. I accepted to be helped by one of them and he took me to a business center inside the court. Initially, I was perplexed but later had a relaxed mind considering that it was actually the Nigerian Court of Law and of course everything should be put in place and in order too.
After putting down the necessary information needed for the process, hear the conversation.
"You know that this is a court and you don't really know your way around here, that's why I choose to help you so that nobody will chop you mugu. The thing is this, I don't want us to waste time doing this just give me Two thousand Naira so that in next five minutes, you will go back to your office".
I was set aback by the greedy conversation of the so proclaimed good Samaritan and helper. I put up a smile and said "Bros, calm down, which one be two thousand Naira, we dey fight abi you wan chop salary for my head? Oga abeg talk better thing biko.
He then goes like this again, "ok, oya bring one thousand eight hundred Naira, make I no dey waste your time, there's no electricity here, I will have to go buy fuel to print it out and we are short of papers too".
"Really? So we're now bargaining on this. Don't it have a fixed price? Do I look like the government? How could you tell me I will have to buy fuel and paper in a court? I snapped at him.
"The last price is one thousand five hundred Naira, just bring it let me do it. But a because you dey talk like this, normal, we don't do it like that", he said again.
It was up to my neck, I couldn't bear it any longer. "Oga please I don't have that such amount with me, let me make some withdrawal and get back to you", I angrily said as I stood up.
Oya naaa, let me give you my number, when you come again, you call me, nobody can do it with that little amount I told you. It's just that I don't want us to keep wasting time because of it".
He was still talking when I heard myself say, "thank you".
That was for the first day, the second day it was the same old story. But the summary of the whole episode is that this correction of name had a fixed price of fifty naira from the government, where these greedy souls get the amount of money they collect from people is what I still don't understand. But, that's by the way.
Back to our armed forces, they have really become a menance in society. I was once more surprised by the actions of one of the members of the forces. Honestly, I hold in high esteem this set of people, but had to withdraw my respect immediately I witnessed an incident.
It was raining and the vehicle I boarded alongside my friends was in very bad condition. Such vehicles should not in any way be found close to Nigerian roads. Almost all the windows couldn’t close. The roof was leaking, likewise the floor. Dirty water poured into the vehicle from underneath as the driver drove. Our body was soaked. Disappointedly, we complained to the driver, he burst out in laughter. That wasn't enough, at a check point, the force men who uses blue vehicles flagged him down. Immediately, he began to ask for two hundred. I asked my friends, is it possible to settle this set of men just like the Police and they chorusly answered ‘yes’. To my greatest amazement, this force man collected the money, looking side ways like a thief. I bowed my head in shame. What a world? The man who collected this money was a young man. I had actually expected discipline and perhaps see him saving dignity for at least, his Uniform because this vehicle in question had no seat belt, the side mirrors were all broken and no rare view mirror. It had an open roof and broken windows. So how the hell will that force man buy the lives of the passengers if peradventure anything happens to us? He was supposed to be a saviour of lives and not the opposite.
That was just the beginning of the series as it continued. I have a friend, Kene. His birthday was last week. His cousin had picked him up from his work place to treat him in one of the eatries around. On their way, his cousin drove into a mechanic shop to inspect the work being done for him. Few minutes later, Kene's cousin left to withdraw some money to pay the mechanic while Kene remained in the car.
Sooner than later, a police van drove into the same mechanic shop. Kene was the first to acknowledge their presence as they alighted. They hurriedly went to the back of the mechanic shop and picked some boys who unknowingly to Kene was drowning themselves in the pool of marijuana.
The Police men came out and also ordered the arrest of Kene. Kene quickly placed a call on his brother who was still on the endless queue at the ATM stand waiting patiently to make a withdrawal. His cousin ran hastily to the scene. But before his arrival,Kene had already been beaten black and blue, beyond recognition. At his arrival, he began talking with the Police men who vehemently stood their ground that Kene will only be released with the sum of one million Naira. What a birthday?
He pleaded like every other person would do, that they make a reduction in their demand but his pleas fell comfortably on deaf ears.
The story became sour when Kene's cousin pleaded that he gave them one thousand naira each for Kene's release. Kene's case worsened because the police men claimed that Kene's cousin had insulted them by even mentioning one thousand naira.
Few minutes later, Kene found himself in the police station. Kene was later released by the bail of his cousin who paid through his nose.
I don't find it wrong this Police men performing their responsibility but it shouldn't be to the detriment of the masses. I believe that they should be a fixed price for such crimes, if that was a crime at all anyway. But if it is, one million Naira is way too much for such a crime.
I also think, the government should look into the bill being passed on the Force men. Things are hard, they shouldn't make it harder for the masses.
On the other hand, be vigilant, know where you stay and what happens around there. Don't fall a prey of these greedy men. The law does not accept ignorance as an excuse. Kene didn't smoke marijuana, he never knew such thing was done around there because he was inside his cousin’s car fiddling with his phone.
Armed forces, please don't make your financial incapability a threat to our lives. You're paid your salary every month just like every other worker. If a citizen defaults, penalize him according to the law and not according to your greed.
Do have a great week!