Innocent Criminals

It was about 8pm that unfortunate evening when father sent Tola to buy him a cold bottle of water. Gbenga who had just arrived from the village stuck to Tola like they were Siamese  twins.

“I would like to follow him Sir,” Gbenga screamed just before Tola walked out of the sitting room.

Mr Father gave a ‘head nod’ to signal his approval. His Elder brother’s son; Gbenga was to spend 2weeks with the family in Lagos in order to sit for the Post Utme examination.

I sat quietly at a corner in the sitting room and battled with the English assignment I had been given from school. Father had started to demolish his sumptuous meal, he was obviously too hungry to wait for the bottle of water. It seemed like a pretty normal evening at the Sanya household until Tola and Gbenga began to run late.

“Where are these children? They have been gone for almost an hour.” Mr Sanya spoke with an obvious frown.

“Bimpe! Bimpe!” he beckoned.

“Run to Madam Ngozi’s place to check on your brother and cousin.”

“Yes Sir,” I immediately replied before heading out of the house. I ran with unbelievable speed so I could get back on time to complete my English assignment. I however came to a staggering halt as soon as I arrived at the next street.

The atmosphere there was that of chaos, the noise which ravished the street was rather strange. I would have turned back, but I summoned the courage to probe further.

There was a black police van further down the street, some young men were being beaten and forcefully pushed into the van. My feet failed me when I saw Tola and Gbenga amongst those men.

“They don de carry them o papa, they don de carry them,” I screamed as I ran back home to inform my father of the shocking development.

He jumped to his feet and asked me what I was ranting about. I tried to explain all I had seen in the most graphic way. Papa took off before I could complete the narration of the disturbing scene.

Mama ran into the sitting room from the kitchen to uncover the cause of the commotion, she began rolling on the floor as soon as I told her what had happened. Our neighbours from the next flat rushed in after the cry of anguish from her.

I followed closely behind my father’s heels as he raced down the road. My quest for an accurate situation report increased my speed. It was heart breaking to see him beg the callous police officers for the release of his innocent children.

Apparently, a robbery operation had just been completed on the street, and in the usual Nigerian police fashion, the police officers arrived after the robbery. They decided to bundle ‘suspicious’ looking young men into their black van.

One of the officers almost hit Papa with the butt of his pistol when he tried to jump into the black Van.

“Come to Arinmu police station tommorrow morning if you want to get bail for these criminals,” the officer screamed before they drove off.

My Father tripped a couple of times as he walked back home. It was a miracle he  made it back in one piece, his countenance suggested he was losing his mind. The major problem at that time however, was consoling mama. Her cries became even louder when she realized Tola and Gbenga did not return home with my father.

The night was a long and sorrow filled one. No one was able to rest knowing that some members of the family were probably being tortured and detained unjustly.

Mama and Papa set out for Arinmu police station very early the next morning. They surprisingly returned sooner than expected, without Tola or Gbenga.

My parents had been threatened at the police station. Tola and Gbenga were to be moved alongside the other young men to a Maximum prison facility the next day.

They rushed back home to gather their savings, about ten thousand in Naira to hire a proper lawyer. This Lawyer came highly recommended by a neighbor who resided in the big apartment opposite our house.

The annoying part of the situation was that the police officers knew my brother and cousin were innocent. Tola and Gbenga had been tortured to make false statements about being criminals but refused despite the beatings. They cried their eyes out when another day passed and there was still no respite from their suffering.

Very early the next morning, our hired lawyer followed my mother and father to the station. I heard that he threatened the police officers; he was said to have thrown around their powerful Commisioner’s name.

They must have called his blough initially, because the officers insisted that Tola and Gbenga were sure to become prisoners at the Ikoyi Maximum prison if the sum of fourty thousand naira wasn’t paid for their release.

Mama lost her balance. She began to wail while Papa stood in despair. The lawyer however gave a mischievous laugh, after which he got on his phone, dramatizing with a few calls.

The next series of activities were shocking. The once bold police officers began to tremble and apologize for the inconvenience they had caused the family. It took less than twenty minutes to process Tola and Gbenga’s release. It was nothing short of a miracle.

After God, the Lawyer probably came next on the chain of gratitude; Grateful was an understatement! My parents could just not stop thanking him for saving the boys.

Tola and Gbenga were shadows of themselves when they returned, I almost could not recognize them. It seemed like they had been through hell, and they had! It was obvious rehabilitation was necessary to get them back to their jovial selves.

The important thing though was that they were back home, all thanks to our hired, God sent lawyer.

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