The chrome of my windscreen was stolen, and I wrote to my insurance company to take care of the fault since I had a comprehensive insurance cover. Part of the documents I was asked to submit was a police report diarising the event to aid in fast-tracking my claims. The policeman in charge of reports I met at the first police station I visited insisted that I should pay N10,000 for the report. He scoffed at my attempt to negotiate and simply walked away. He told me to come back whenever I am ready to pay him.
I was then given the contact of another police officer in another station. I was told this officer would facilitate the production of the report at no fee. I was told she abhors bribe-taking, a trait that is at variance with our perception of police officers. I was informed she was ‘clean’ to the extent that she refused to be posted to traffic duties, and instead preferred to sit at the Human Rights desk where the temptation to extort money from people would be minimised.
I met this police officer and she ushered me into her office which is the Police Human Rights office. The police report could not be produced immediately since there was no electricity at the time I got to the station. I had to while away time in her office, pending the restoration of electricity which would facilitate the production of the report. She asked me to give her N2,000 for the officer that would prepare the report.
She sat outside while her subordinate sat at her desk and superintended over cases.
The married couple
Her subordinate was interrogating a married woman who was assaulted by her husband when I was ushered into her office. The woman complained that her husband had battered her. The officer promised to ensure she got justice. He then called the husband and upon arrival asked him for his side of the story. The husband owned up to battering his wife and promised not to do so again. The police officer told the man of the consequences of beating his wife again and then asked the couple to kiss and make up.
The bewilderment in the wife’s eyes was obvious. She protested at not being ready to make up, but the policeman warned, though very subtly, that there would also be consequences if the woman did not obey him and hug her husband.
She cried, almost protesting that her husband was let off very easy. She accused her husband of embarrassing her publicly and subjecting her to emotional trauma. The policeman said he understood her plight but insisted that the best way forward was for her to forgive her husband and mend fences, in the best interest of their child. I felt the best approach was to at least take the victim’s feelings into cognisance rather than an attempt to forcefully reunite them.
After pleas cum threats, the woman agreed to reconcile with her husband. The policeman’s next actions gave me a better insight as to why he was insistent on reconciling the couple. As the husband stepped out of the office temporarily to receive a phone call, the policeman hurriedly and in a hush, asked the wife to pay him for his efforts at reconciling the couple. He told the poor woman that she had promised to reward him if he helped her resolve the issue. I guess she was too shocked as she burst into tears which signified that his idea of ‘settling’ the issue was not in line with hers.
The police officer beat a quick retreat and instead confronted the man and demanded N20,000. The husband left and came back that he could only raise N10,000. After much pleading, the policeman accepted the sum from the husband, made him sign an undertaking that he would be of good behaviour and then asked the couple to go home.
He then ushered in the next case. This case bordered on debt. My next blog post details the case.