I was caught hands down by the curfew yesterday. I had promo the Izon-Link publication the other day but I discovered an error and decided to make a reprint before going to the market. That made me leave the press at 9pm. It was behind time and at all the roadblocks from Opolo to Akenfa, the police allowed me easy passage but when I got to my last checkpoint at Igbogene, it was obvious I had arrived at my hell gate. I went to the police officer there who first shouted at me for introducing myself as a journalist.
“Where is you pass,” was the first question he fired back at me as he shoved me behind him and walked away. Till about 12 when he finally let us go for refusing to pay our N500, it was a toll fare, a booming business at Igbogene where the government’s ordered curfew has become policemen’s ATM at Igbogene.
So much, as much as N3000 and N5000 were been collected from trailers, lorries and truck drivers who are streaming into the state capital at such hours. I didn’t mind my long detention there because I wanted to observe the activities of policemen at the Igbogene end of the gateway. Smaller vehicles that couldn’t beat the curfew deadline pays N500 and N200 depending on how you plea your case. It is a booming, money making period for the police. Curfew or not, I observed an unfettered movement of people and vehicles.
One officer the fondly called “Number” was the chief collector who only appears when the person accepts to pay. Another observation was that policemen from Igbo extraction never ceased in their insult on Bayelsans. Soon as they noticed that the offending person was a Bayelsan, they rain insults on both the people and the state. I became so incensed that my friend has to press me down, reminding me as the one who used to tell him never to argue with an armed Nigeria Policeman.
I agree, a Nigeria policeman is like a possessed agent of the devil and even in your grave, they will always give a flimsy excuse for their devilish action so I kept my cool. The Bayelsa officers also do not make matters easy for their people as they walk away watching Igbo policemen humiliating their Bayelsa folks and the Hausa policemen negotiating for their townsmen and trucks to have unfettered passage soon as they pay the toll. I was detained there till about 12am and was only let go when they discovered we were not ready to play their ball.