The other day, I ran a red light in Wuse II. Normally, I wouldn’t be caught doing such. See, me, I can be a serious efiko, goody goody kinda girl. Running red lights is a big no no in my world. But this particular day, I had been standing in that left lane turning for like 20 minutes! Moving one car at a time each time the light turned green for 2 seconds before turning red again.
So as the light turned from yellow to red, the car in front of me, a green Mercedes Benz E class dashed into the intersection, and I followed. Immediately I turned the corner, two police men stepped out from the sidewalk to block the green benz. The driver of the green benz twisted to the side and drove past the officer. In serious goody goody fashion I dared not try the same. I just pulled over quietly and stared ahead.
What is the process here, what are my rights? Is it like the States where I’m supposed to stay put with my seat belt tightly fastened or do I step out and ensue in a long conversation as to why I ran (or did not run) the red light? While pondering my next line of action, the officer taps on the passenger window and asks me to let him in. He pulls on my door handle and I hestitate. “Wait, does he have the right to step into my car without my consent?”
I unlock the doors and he gets comfortable in the car. He looks around my car then asks for my particulars. I hand it over. Everything is in order. So begins to explain that he stopped me because I ran the red light and it’s a traffic offense? (Really?!)
He asked me what I do. I’m a corper. I am shaking and irritated that they are sitting in my car. So what happens next? I ask. I have to go to the police station, pay about 10,000 naira fine, let my car sit there for a week before I can get it back. Why should my car sit there for a week after I go to the bank to pay the fine? I suspected foul play. His partner, a female officer sat at the back of my car without saying a word. Shaken but bullheaded, I decide to let them take me to the police station. Not one kobo would leave my pockets! Nada. Nil. Nope. I'm saying no to corruption!
Well, let’s see my oga first before going to the station, the male officer said.
Why can’t they give me a fine and I go pay it? Must they escort me to the station? Must they impound my car when I get there? But I didn’t know my rights and with all the human rights victimization stories I’ve heard about the Nigeria police, I didn’t want to be difficult about it. With both officers still in my car, I turned the corner to meet their boss. I started to call my dad but then disconnected it before I got nailed for making a phone call while driving.
Tanana. Tanana. My phone rang. It was my dad.
-Why are you flashing me! My dad said in his usual, lively jesting manner
-Daddy. The police stopped me. I’m on my way to the station.
-I ran the red light. I say in my most submissive tone.
-How could you do such a thing?! You know how I feel about such things. How could you. Is the officer there? Let me speak to him!
I give the phone to the officer. He listens to my father, smiles, says yes sir and hands it back to me.
My dad says: Come to my office now. I’ve told the officer to follow you here. Now.
Ok, I know my father is the ultimate charmer, but how did he do that?!! One minute the officer is telling me to go the station, the next he’s following me to my territory.
Where is your father’s office? The officer asks.
I smile to myself.