There comes a time in a man’s life when he must sit down, look within himself and truly reflect upon his existence in general and whether or not things are going well for his immortal soul. This point in life has been called several names; some call it a moment of clarity, others call it sober reflection et cetera, but regardless of whatever title it holds the essence of said reflection is that…in that moment, man is truly honest with himself.
The time is 4am and I am currently undergoing my own moment of clarity. I am sitting behind the counter at the Unilag Security Post along with about one million and one other human beings. In simpler terms, we’re all locked up at Alpha Base. Like the real base o. The base of the Alphas. The home of the men in blue. The cabal. The evil fores…shaa you get the point. I’ve never been so confused in my life. Imagine being woken up by armed security men (we all know there’s no bullet in the gun but just stay with me please) by 2am because your neighbour lodged a complaint that she left her room door open to goan bathe and when she came back some of her stuff was missing. And the next logical thing was for the Alphas to come, pound on our doors like mad people, rouse us all from sweet sleep and then transport us to the evil forest where our judgement awaits. Do y’all see all the many many things wrong with this current state of affairs?
Amean, my roommates and I were even forming baddos and we drove our own car here simply cos we couldn’t enter their van to come and go to the Base. Ahn Ahn think about it nw. Chairmen like us and we’ll nw goan enter that their dirty, rusty, broken down, formerly white contraption, when we have ride? The gods forbid it. We drove here, blasting music through the speakers and all…chilled life really. We were under the impression that it was a basic issue and all we had to do was simply show up, declare our innocence and they would bid us goodbye and farewell, maybe even apologise for the inconvenience they caused us. Loool yunno when you use your own two legs to enter gbese? On top matter that we know nothing about.
It’s now 2pm, I have been here since 2am. That’s twelve hours people of god. Once again, I’m so confused. In these twelve hours, I’ve come to truly understand just how effective the criminal justice system of our dear country is. See, you can do Criminal Law two times or even four times sef depending on how much you love the course, but you’ll never really…appreciate it until you undergo your very own, well tailored, personal experience. You might have crammed Okonkwo and Naish from beginning to end but until you’re behind the counter and one potbellied old illiterate is giving you all those ‘Jack Bauer’ type of threats, you cannot adequately comprehend the injustice of criminal justice.
All the other humans I came along with are giving me side eye and looks that say “no be this guy wey talk say e be law student?”. I really do not care anymore, after all most engineering students can’t even fix fan. And all the Department of English students I know prefer Yoruba to English, and not just any Yoruba o but the very very thick one that you have to be a true son of the soil before you can understand. When we first got here and I still had energy, I was busy ranting and quoting all the sections and laws pertaining to illegal detainment and fundamental human rights, while the Baba of the Base was just looking at me and smiling like “see this idiot, you never jam”. Now, almost 13hours later and without food in my system, the only relevant law I can think of is the law of the jungle which says Only The Strong Will Survive. I know that last last, I cannot kuku die. Even though this entire situation is designed to destroy any and all hope you might possess. Like, when we got here someone was chained to the wall…by his feet. And it’s not handcuffs or rope o, real bastard chain. All these industrial types that they use in factories and all. I almost felt sorry for the young man back then but now he has been released while we still remain here. These people are staring at us as if they are looking for the next person to chain. Dass the one I cannot even agree for. It’s better they just carry me to Kirikiri Maximum Prison lemme just know that I’m a criminal true true than for them to chain me up in Alpha Base. Although, at this point we all pretty much look like the descendants of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves. The worst part about this place is where it’s situated. I can literally see freedom right in my very before, and with freedom comes all the beautiful girls of the University of Lagos. Since I’ve been here, the number of mammy water that have passed this place ehn…chisos! At one point, I almost asked if I can be coming here everyday, yunno just to help them out and shi. But I quickly changed my mind. Before someone will finally chain me up for assuming too much.
The hours drag on and on. We and the security men have gone from being enemies to acquaintances to best of friends back to enemies and then to friends again. We’ve gisted all the gist in this world, all that’s remaining now is for them to just offer us employment. And I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to do the work too cos from all I’ve seen today, the only training whatsoever that these men received is on How to Waste people’s time. Ah! These people have bsc in Time Wasting and Rubbish Questions. Two or three of them should be going abroad for Masters by now. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in 2017. Someone will coman lodge a complaint or report someone and the response of the Gentlemen of the Base will just blow your mind. But all this one is not my concern, I just wanna leave this place.
A couple of hours earlier, one of my fellow ‘inmates’ called his parents to save US (I assumed we were all in this together, big mistake) from this place, and his parents came and later on they had to invite one very big lawyer just to secure their son’s freedom. At this point, the rest of us should probably have begun to appreciate the gravity of the issue but wetin concern us, no be ordinary Alpha Base? Last last we go just give them 5H make them buy food sigh. It’s now almost 6:30 in the evening, and I’m as confused as a year one Law student. I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without food in my entire life. And to think that we came here in our own car o. Ah!
Apparently, the parents of the boy have been able to secure the release of himself and his friend and it at this point that the situation becomes very clear. Everything is happening at the same damn time. The boy and his friend are leaving ALL of us behind. Even if you wanna leave us cos we’re really not in the same room with you, at least carry all your roommates now. I see the shock, confusion and fear on the faces of his roommates and it is almost funny. Almost. At this same time, the Sabo Police men that these people have been threatening us with finally arrive in a van big enough to carry all of us and our relatives in the village too. The way things are just escalating is staring to resemble one of those poorly scripted Nollywood movies. And it’s not as if my own parents don’t have mouth or I cannot call them or something, is just that my parents were quite against me getting a BQ inside school and they’ll simply turn something like this into an “I told you so” moment. My father might even just tell me that he will call me tomorrow and then end the call.
The Sabo people are standing by while the highly trained Alpha Base offices are trying to decide by our faces who they should transfer to Sabo Police Station and who should remain behind. BY OUR FACES!!
As it starts to seem that all hope is lost and the lawyer woman is about to enter her very beautiful car and drive off, while majority of us spend the night in a cell, I say a final prayer to heaven and my ancestors and whoever else might be listening. It seems it worked cos this woman takes one final look into the Base and our eyes connect. I can only imagine the desperate look in my eyes because this very wonderful woman gets out of her car and returns to the Base and beckons me over. Ladies and gentlemen, if you think you can beg or plead, I assure you that next to me you’re like a member of the Law Class of ’20 football team standing beside Lionel Messi. I’ve never begged like that in my entire life. See ehn, after my performance Buhari should just appoint me as the Begging General of the Federation.
To end everything, this woman secures our release and renews my faith in the power of the Law (or in the power of a well connected lawyer). We hurriedly sign all the statements and undertakings binding us to present ourselves for further questioning whenever we are required to by the security operatives, even as we know that we are never setting foot in this place again. Well, except to inquire about all the very fine females I saw tod…god what is wrong with me please?
As we walk back to our various rooms, happy and free, I consider just getting to my room, packing up all my bags and just moving into one of the hostels to goan squat. Then I remember how cold the AC in my room is and I hurriedly change my mind.
On the way back, I cannot help but look around and admire just how beautiful and wonderful Unilag is. Freedom is truly a glorious thing. Even Biobaku that used to look like a dungeon to me now seems like a palace as I walk past it.
Lool nahh, not really.