Many times I’ve talked about the police abusing their power but what I realized I haven’t done is tell you guys about the day I got stopped and my phone was searched illegallya at by the police. It most definitely would have been worse than that if they had found anything they felt was suspicious even if it wasn’t.
I was on my way back to school from my home at Lagos. I was traveling by road and if you’ve ever traveled by road here, you would have noticed the countless number of police checkpoints everywhere, it is almost as if they got an intel about an imminent attack and they’re all just there to stop it from happening.
I was traveling in a sienna car, a car I didn’t know gets stopped by the police a lot probably because of the few people in it (which simply means it will be easier and faster to search) or probably because they know that riding in a Sienna was much more expensive than traveling in the normal traveling bus so anyone traveling in one probably has a good amount of money in their bank account that they (the police) can extort.
We were about seven passengers in the vehicle and among the seven of us we were only two young guys there, the rest were elderly people. The first checkpoint we had been stopped had been in some state that I didn’t know, the police officer who was holding a long rifle had asked all of us to step out of the vehicle then he pointed me and the other young guy out and asked where we were traveling to.
I told him I was a student and he asked what school which I told him, then he asked me to go get my bags. I brought out my bags and he just started pouring out everything in it rudely. I had no idea what he was looking for but he obviously didn’t find it because he had handed me an empty bag and asked me to go place my things back in it. I remember being so upset because it had been a very difficult task for me when I was packing my bags the previous night and now I was going to go through the same stress again.
He had searched the other dudes bag and when he couldn’t find anything he let us go. The driver quickly drove off because the whole stop and search had wasted a lot of our time and seeing how we still had a long journey ahead of us, he drove as quickly as he could.
But it didn’t take long before we got pulled over again at another check point. This time, the officer didn’t bother to search our bags, it was already getting late so he just went straight to the point, our phones. He took both of our phones (I and the other guy) and started going through our gallery (which is illegal according to law). When he didn’t find anything on our phones, he went for my laptop.
The time was already past 8 and yet this man powered up my laptop and started to go through my files. He was looking for clues, anything that would indicate to him that I was one of those internet fraudsters so that he could arrest and extort money from me in other for me to be released but after going through everything and couldn’t find anything, he had no choice but to let us go.
When I got back into the car, I remember one lady asking me if the man found anything and I told her no because there was nothing to find.
After everything, I ended up getting to my hostel around some minutes past midnight, it as crazy. After that whole experience, I concluded that traveling by air is the only way to avoid all of this harassment.