Wednesday, May 09, 2012
So 'penultimate' Sunday (that's how they write in Nigerian newspapers) my dear friend Singto and I got into a fix that I'm certain we'll never forget. A very severe 'Oh no had I known' situation which could have been avoided had I succumbed to Twitter coverage of the 2012 MBGN pageant.
I was meant to go to a new spot for a quick 'meet-and-greet' over drinks with a fellow international journalist (we have to distinguish please so you don't conjure up a beer parlor) but the fellow canceled at the last minute. Considering that I'd already put on my MAC powder (I have a rule that once that powder touches my face, I dey comot house) I decided to call up Singto who lives just down the road from me. If she had known what was going to go down that night, she'ld have said, 'Abeg leave me make I sleep.'
We decided to roll out to the 'Mexibaneseptriate' restaurant, Bottles, since it was Cinco De Mayo (5th of May). You know as we are from 'the Abroad', we mark some random days like that just as an excuse to have a few beers and things. Other friends came to meet up with us and we were gisting for about 3 hours. When the place cleared out and we started dozing off around 1 am, we decided to call it a night and head home. I still had a buzz that needed to be burnt off so as we drove past the now reformed Pat's Bar on Ajose Adeogun, we decided to park. But then we hesitated. Let me tell you why.
So last week Monday both of us and another friend, Sookie, had been bored and needed to 'look around'. Lagos is quite boring and so there are days when you just have the urge to drive around just to see people doing something sha. So we said, we've never been to this legendary Pat's bar, 'where no decent girl wants to be seen' due to certain perceptions of the patrons. We got there and got in to some mild drama with the bouncer (that story will make for another blog entry) for which we demanded to speak with the manager. The manager was nice and situation sorted after downloading the story and a few free drinks. So thinking about that situation led to the hesitation that made us change our minds. I wish we had just indulged our urge this one time and gone to say hello to our new friends at Pat's Bar.
We drove away from the Ajose Adeogun and then on to the link road towards Oniru Estate. Now on a normal day, I would turn right to save N120 on the toll gate and enjoy the 'scenic route'. But a voice in me said, 'you're having such a great night chatting away, why don't you turn right and take your time to get home'. That was the DEVIL's voice because he had his agents of darkness waiting.
As we turned right and had driven a little bit past City of David Church, I see a silver Toyota Corolla come from the back to over take us.That's when this drama began to unfold...
Adaure: Who are these mad people driving like this at night ehn?
Singto: When they go and have accident now they will know.
Adaure: Hmmmh...Why are they slowing down? Singto, these guys look like thieves sha
One guy comes out of the car holding something large...
Singto: Shit, Dude that's a gun. Drive!!
Adaure: Oh Shit! Uh uh!! I ain't going down like this!
As the movie of my life began to flash by, the first thing that came to my mind in that split second was Lagos doctors are on strike and as such one could not afford to get shot. So I put the car in reverse sharpishly and stepped on my gas pedal and DROVE as commanded. All this in between shouting 'Oh Shit' and 'JESUS' (Lord forgive me). As I reached deep inside me to find my survival skills (lessons from all the action films I've watched), the guy with the gun kept running towards us and pointing the gun. Unfortunately, the drivers behind us were not sharp enough to sight what was about to go down and so stopped and blocked my getaway. Meanwhile Singto was screaming 'Drive Adaure, Drive!' and me I was replying 'I am driving, I am driving!' When we couldn't go back any further, I attempted to do a fast 3 point turn but the road was too narrow thanks to the stupid dividers they build on roads which serve no purpose considering the fact that the light poles they are supposed to hold are all non-funtioning. So my 3-point turn failed, the divider was too high and I was not in a JEEP (I am provoking over that). By this time the gun man was already at Singto's window tapping with the gun and I was scared as hell.
Gunman: Open your door! Open your door! I will shoot!
Adaure: (window down) Oga calm down, don't shoot! What do yo want?
Gunman: Bring your Chain! Bring your chain!
Adaure: But we don't have any chain or anything.
Gunman: Your phone!
Adaure: (flustered) My phone! Where is my phone? Um Um....I am looking for it. I can't see! It's dark!
Singto: Please calm down, Oga, let us find our phones.
He proceeds to rub down my neck to confirm if i was lying about the chain.
Adaure: Oga wait let me put on the light for you
I was meticulous in de-americanizing my speech and hysteria so he would not get any 'kidnapping' ideas. By this time the cars following had started trying to turn around.
Adaure: Oga my bag is in the back, let me bring it for you
Gunman: Oya bring your bag, come and open your boot.
Adaure: Take the bag, Singto bring your bag (Singto looks at me like, dude why are you offering him all our stuff, he just asked for the phone)
Gunman: (to Singto) You where is your bag? (to me) You bring the car key.
Adaure: If you like you can take the car, we can walk home (In my mind I was like this car that has been giving me problem, please take it o)
He takes the key and walks around and throws it on the floor. As he walks away, my head lamps beaming at what had just gone down and what fate we had just escaped, I could also just see my bag (Channy-Nwa) with my wallet and all my bank cards and phones just walking away with him. I began to think if i had backed up my blackberry contacts because that would further compound my recovery from this ordeal. Singto had her wallet, checkbook, cards, car and house keys and one phone (she was smart enough to take out the other phone) as well as other personal effects.
As I am too flustered to drive, Singto takes over the wheels and we drive back towards Four-Points where we'd last seen the Police Patrol. We find them one street off and tell them what had just happened. The reaction just showed me all that people have been writing about and saying about crime-fighting and the future war on terrorism that we will face in Nigeria. It made me miss the 2nd Amendment.
We turned around and headed for the Maroko Police Station, where there was another lady whose car had just been snatched. Not sure if it was by the same guys. The police there were helpful but already had their hands full with another robbery incident in the Jakande area with 'live fire', according to them. Within 20 minutes we had written a report and went home. I decided to log on to an online app I downloaded to lock the phone and track it, assuming it was still on and there it was, roving all over Victoria Island. We decide that we can't get punked like this and went back with this 'new data' to the police. My sister was at home keeping watch on the tracker and calling in the location of the robbers.
At this point, I refused to dwell on the inadequacies of the Nigerian police. It is not their fault. It is the leaders feeding fat on funds meant to equip the police stations with scanners, radios and the likes. These guys were using GSM to call DCO to pass the new location on. A good 2 minutes in between that chain. I was surprised though that the guys at the 'Maroko PD' actually indulged us and according to them went towards the various locations identified on the tracker. But that's always the story of the Nigeria Police, always 'trailing' behind. Sometimes you wonder if these guys don't watch TV to even get simple ideas like informing the guys at the Ikoyi or Onikan end to look out for cars fitting the description. Not that our case was special, but the fact that it appeared to be am 'Operation Night' by the robbery gangs should have indicated the need to be a little ahead. Then again had the Inspector General of Police not banned Police Road Blocks, perhaps that would have deterred these particular boys from such brazen robbery, just a few blocks away from a police station and a police patrol van down the road at the Four Points hotel.
Suffice to say we went back and forth with the Police patrol on the phone for 3 hours. At some point, the robbers were on Adeola Hopewell and Sanusi Fafunwa, Eletu Ogabi, just casing, and then Saka Tinubu and Akin Adeshola for a while. Turns out they were dispossessing another guy (who's a friend of our friend) of his SUV right in front of The Porsche Center. According to the police, they did spot a car that fit the description of our robbers, but by the time they could turn (damn, those dividers again) the guys had zoomed off. In the space of a minute, on the tracker, they went from Akin Adeshola, to Awolowo Rd and ended on Ring Road in Obalende. That's the last we saw of them on the tracker.
The next morning, I tried to play Nancy Drew and see if the car had been abandoned and perhaps our personal effects dumped inside. I discovered that there had been about 4 to 6 Car jacking and armed robbery incidents between the Victoria Island and Lekki 1 Axis that had been reported in early hours of Sunday May 6th. About 3 cars parked at the Bar Beach Police station had been recovered. The lady we met at 'Maroko PD' also go her car back and apparently 2 robbers, apparently operating in Lagos, were shot and killed in Sango-Otta. Our robbers were lucky this night leaving us to wonder.
Normally, I would reign curses and abuses on them at this point, but I've decided against that because my curses will bring suffering to them and the cycle of poverty and desperation will only continue. Instead, I will pray for them and wish that when they sell those items, they'll use the funds to start up a business and earn a living. Wishful thinking, but it's a prayer worth saying because it will put them off the streets. As for myself and Singto, we thank God for our lives and not letting the robber shoot. I have to admit I have never been so scared in my life. This is the first time I'm ever getting robbed or witnessing such. All this week my stomach has been queasy with 'butterflies' and the whole thing has been playing in my head. You know, asking yourself what could have happened if this or that happened. Too much headache so I'll just thank GOD that we can even laugh about it and tell it like a story. As for the items lost, it's just stuff, EXPENSIVE stuff, but STUFF nonetheless, we can always get them back (after a few months of saving up) but life is IRREPLACEABLE. AA