THORNS IN MY BOOT 9

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9

 

I applied for a week’s pass to enable me travel home and bring mama to Enugu, three days was approved by the A.O so I decided to travel on Saturday so that the three days starts to count from Monday, and fortunately I was not on weekend duty.

I set out for the journey at exactly 5.30am on a Saturday in mid July 1991 in company of my colleague and mate Saka, Saka is an indigene of Abeokuta in Ogun State. He knows the route to the west from Enugu having travelled severally along the road with his Boss the A.O, he also drives very well so he could take over the steering when I am tired, but the most important part of the journey was that I would be the Person to drive the Car into my Village. We were dressed in our Uniform, the Camouflage, I did not wear my Boot but kept it aside because I was to drive over a long distance.

At 8.00am we were already at Agbor when a Police Hilux Van over took us and waved at us to park our Car. I swerved the Car off the road cursing under my breath, how dare they? We sat in the Car and waited. The Police van reversed and almost hit the fender of my Car with its rear thereby blocking us from moving forward, I was furious, what impetus? We opened the doors of my car and stormed out challenging: What is the meaning of this nonsense? I asked:

Can’t you People see that we are military men? Saka barked as four Police men jumped down from the back of the Van brandishing AK47 Riffles

Hands up! One of them barked

You say what? I asked

Are you deaf? Armed robbers! I say raise your hands up and go down on your knees before I scatter you now! The same man roared obviously drunk, or so I had thought.

I knew better than argue with a man carrying a gun so we raised our hand and knelt down. Passersby where beginning to gather, I felt so embarrassed. Imagine common Police men disgracing combatant Nigerian Soldiers in Public simply because they have Guns, I wished for some Soldiers to appear from anywhere, I was bursting inside with self-control.

Can I see the Particulars of this Car? An inspector who was sitting inside the Van by the driver came down and asked, he has a Pistol in its pouch.

The Particulars are in the Glove compartment! I told him

Can I see your I.D badges? He asked

It’s in my Bosom pocket! I said

Mine is in my wallet in my back Pocket, Saka offered

Bring them out! He said as one of his Boys went to the glove compartment and came out with a brown envelope which he handed to the Inspector; he opened the envelope and brought out the receipt of purchase Chike had issue me.

This is the receipt of purchase! Where are the registration documents? Inspector asked and who amongst you is Ojo?

I am Ojo, I said, I have not done the registration yet, I just bought the Car! And please why all these embarrassment? I am on my way to my Village in Osun state and I have a very long distance to cover! I said.

How did you come about this car you are driving? Inspector asked

I bought from a car and Spare parts dealer in Enugu as evident on the receipt with you, the name and address of the seller is on the receipt! I said.

The Inspector looked cursorily at the receipt again; the address on this receipt is in Ikotun in Lagos State!

Oh! I did not read it, I said; maybe he has a branch in Lagos! But he gave me that receipt! I said.

Open the Bonnet! He directed one of his Boys, he stretched his hands and collected our ID badges; put down your hands! he said.
By this time, a crowd had gathered around us, mostly street hawkers and beggars along the road, I wished for the earth to open her mouth and swallow me, I contemplated standing up and putting up a bravado show, but I was far from Enugu and no Soldier was at sight, where are these Soldiers when you need them?.

The Bonnet was opened, inspector looked at the engine and chassis number, he went to their Van and brought out a Jotter, he came back to my Car and compared something in his Jotter with the Chassis and engine numbers of my car, then he shook his head sadly, I thought he had made a mistake, I waited patiently for him to apologize so I could give him a piece of my mind.

My Friend, are you Boys real Soldiers? Inspector asked

What sort of silly question is that inspector? Saka charged; are you mad?

The Inspector gave a short sarcastic laugh and shook his head sadly with a wry smile.
My Friend, if you know the type of soup you have just entered now ehn? You will shut up your mouth! The inspector said. Oya let us go the Station! The two of you, go into that Van, my Boys will drive the Car after us.

Drive my Car? I asked; for what? Because of common Car documents? I am a regular combatant Soldier of the Nigerian Army! How can you be so uncooperative? Are we not all uniform men? What happened to “spirit de corps”? I swear I will go to Onitsha Barracks and mobilize my men once this is over! Is it because you are wielding Guns? You are threatening me with common AK 47! Kai! I don suffer! I kept ranting as Saka and I were cuffed and bundled into the Van to the excitement of the Crowd

To Be Continued

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