SHOWDOWN AT BALLERINE WITH OFFICER SHELLENG (FIRST PART).
By Ojo Aderemi.
I have read in stories about how policemen brutalize the people they protect. In many cases; kill them. It’s not limited to my country Kath Radia. There were many such cases in the capital of Brazil. Amnesty International recently published some news of police brutality against the local people of Rio which could be taken for warning ahead of the Olympic Games for people who would travel their. In many countries of the world, police brutality is not uncommon and in fact on a large scale.
Followed by India, my country -Kath Radia- is the most populated nation with people with black skin in the world. The economy is far from recovering and despite the austerity measures against the mostly poor people, living standards keep dwindling. Kath Radian economic propagandists are consistently publishing materials meant to make people believe that if they want a better Kath Radia, they must endure the austerity measures. The lies have been repeatedly told since the 1980s when the military was still in power. Cost of education is on the rise and couple with terrible standard of living, people had a choice between education with worse living conditions and no education. A people under such situation will raise the middle finger at education and embrace survival. This makes a vast majority of the Kath Radian population non literate. The frustrated ones became soldiers for the wrong cause. They became terrorists.
After a student protest in the country’s oldest university, I got suspended for being part of a protest aimed at registering our displeasure at the suspension of a student activist. During my suspension I decided to join the Police.
Our trainers gave us a worse series of lectures than the one we got at the University of Ballerin. I got pissed one day and described the lessons as “a process of producing brainless people in uniforms”. My instructor kept me out of the classes for the rest of my stay in the training camp. I came out on top of the 5000 man list. The camp gave me a broader outlook at the police in general. Most policemen have a prejudice against people who are not in the police. Each time a police officer is shot, we were directed to quickly respond. But when a “citizen” is shot or something, we simply turn the alarm off, continue with whatever we were doing and go to the place when we feel not too busy. What kept us busy was mostly Yoruba movies in our common room. Or sleep. Or some other things. in summary “the government is right, we protect and you just need to corporate… by keeping your peace”. But then, the “Police is your friend”.
I was just alone in the whole hell of a job. The few who shared my feelings were too few to make any impact or continue. Making the situation worse, many resigned thinning out the number of intellectuals in the Police…altogether. I got called back by the University and applied for a study leave.
* * * * * * * ************************
On getting back to UB (University of Ballerine) I discovered that nothing had changed about the terrible living condition and that of all the 148 students who were suspended, only 12 came back. Others travelled abroad for university education. Many went to Nigeria to attend the University of Ibadan or joined the forces just like me. Most of us were patriots and lovers of our fellow Kath Radians and the entire human race. However, too many of us had no intention being politicians. Instead, we opted for an alternative means to get state power -REVOLUTION.
Seeing the weakness of the Union, I gathered all progress minded persons and formed another frontier for unionism especially for campaigning for total reversal of fees that had been increased. Within one week, students were back on the streets after a long six month strike. Where the morale came from, I’m not sure till this day. I became president of the Union which earned me numerous court martials at the Police Headquarters. I defended myself with the article of the International Labor Convention. The “arrogant” but unfit provost of the University asked the Senate to release me as soon as possible.
“Give the fool his certificate and let him leave…quick”, he snapped at the officer in charge of admissions.
* * * * *
I graduated with honours slightly missing a First Class. I knew I had had a First Class but being a campus activist, I understood what happened and just bade the University bye bye. I often returned to give speeches at the Union’s “Fresher’s Orientation Programs”. My friend Bello Hernandez fought the University for his First Class and had it in the end. He became the only Senator who calls Congresses at his Senatorial constituency.
I was commissioned to the rank of Inspector on presenting my degree certificate to the Police Headquarters. The day I was promoted, I didn’t celebrate anything. I was never a fan of a graduate worker receiving better pay than a constable. I simply visited my girlfriend (the daughter of the professor that recommended my suspension) at her house. She briefly introduced me (with my newly acquired rank) to her Dad (to whom I prostrated) in the living room. The professor just sat down their looking with awe. Sufiyya, obviously exited about my promotion, led me straight to her bed, in her bedroom, in her father’s house and on her father’s land… Some hours later, I was woken up by a person biting my ear and holding my Radio Phone. She was getting my attention to the message on. My first assignment. I was to lead an anti-riot force to quash a student protest at the University of Ballerine. The unrelenting Provost of the University had rang the police and LIED that the students were vandalizing properties.
Two students were shot dead…
* * * * * * * * * * *
In my new Chevrolet car, I drove past a police officer pointing a rifle at the head of a woman. Unarmed, she held onto the police officer’s uniform shouting;
“you killed my son, kill me too”.
A lifeless boy laid a meter away from both of them.
Sergeant Biliri Ogolo, the man who had shot two students dead a week ago. I had recommended the sergeant for a court martial? The sergeant had refused to take orders from me during the peaceful protest last week and had shot two students dead. I had ordered his arrest and court martial. I expected him to be dead already or waiting to die.
Shocked, I drew the poor boy to myself and tried to hold back the tears that eventually prevailed and coursed down my face. I recognized the woman. The mother of the boy. She used to give us kerosene during protests. We used the kerosene to prevent the impact of tear-gas on our eyes.
People had gathered around us and the police boys I ordered had arrived and separated Biliri and the fighting woman.
Unable to speak French, the woman looked me in the face, pointed at my bloodstained neatly ironed uniform and, in her local language said;
“He killed my son. My son is just 10 years old. I wanted him to grow up and be like you… That heartless man shot him. I want justice”.
You won’t get justice here sweetie. I think he has the Commissioner of Police at his back. He has been in the police before me so he takes no orders from me. The courts won’t jail or hang Biliri.
But I will do something.
I removed my pistol and aimed Biliri’s head.
The place was Ballerine and the time was 09:00…
UP NEXT -SECOND PART.
Ojo Aderemi writes for Medscion Magazine, a magazine published annually by the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA).
Ojo Aderemi is a student of the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan and a prominent resident of Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan.
Ojo Aderemi is a seasoned student journalist and an astute unionist, a political activist and an anti-corruption campaigner. He was a member of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press Organization (AFAS Press).
During his membership of AFAS Press Ojo Aderemi served as the Political Editor of the Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan.
Subsequently, Ojo Aderemi joined My School Podcast (a student podcasting platform which is first in West Africa) as News Editor and News Presenter. He is a founding member of the Podcasting Company.
He is currently the Editor General of the Press Club, University of Ibadan.
Ojo Aderemi has held positions in several students organizations: he was the Public Relations Officer of the All-Nigeria United Nations Students and Youths Association (ANUNSA) where he left a reputation of modesty. He was subsequently appointed the Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the same organization.
Ojo Aderemi is a member of ENACTUS, University of Ibadan, African Students for Liberty, Okigbo Poetry Club and DINAMICA.
Ojo Aderemi is a public speaker. He has participated two times in the all Campus Debating Competition -Jaw War and several other public speaking competitions.
Based on good character, dedication and discipline he was proposed to be Vice President of the Literary and Debating Society of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan.
Ojo Aderemi is the convener of the Patriotic Intelligentsia -an organization of radical students from different fields.
Ojo Aderemi has enlightened the University community and Nigerians on their rights through his many thought provoking articles and write ups.
He had been an active member of NANS at every level. He has also participated in uneasy interventions of NANS in other schools. He was part of the NANS delegates who intervened in the reinstatement of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Students’ Union and the suspended executives.
He is a friend of other unions both within the University of Ibadan and outside.