“Stop! I say stop!!”
“Chai, one chance! What kind of mess did I get myself into this morning?” I muttered to myself as I parked. The mean-looking police man with the pot belly came running towards my direction ready to devour. I wound down the window a bit to peep out and talk to him.
“My friend, come down!!!” He screamed at me. At this point I was already shivering and praying to God to get me out of this. What kind of spirit entered me this morning? The first and only time I decide to take the one way, I get caught. I’m just a JJC in this trade.
“Hand over all your particulars, your driver’s license now! The likes of you shouldn’t be on the road driving”. I began to shiver the more, “oga I beg”, I murmured but this dude wasn’t ready to listen to me.
30 minutes later, as I stood there on the road watching how they stopped different cars and how the “settlement processes” were being done, I came to realize that these people would not leave me till I “shake body”.
I walked up to the officer again, begging him for the umpteenth time and he gave me the same reaction, like I wasn’t even there. Then one of the junior officers walked up to me and told me how the deal was being done. Something had to give for something. Upset and feeling dejected, I searched in my bag and brought out 2K. I timidly went back to the boss and told him I wanted to see him. Following me to one corner, I begged and told him I was really sorry and I was running late for work reason why I decided to take the one way short cut. Stretching out my hands towards him, he stared down at it and asked, “How much dey there?” I looked down at my feet and said “two thousand naira”. The man sneered at me and said “no be my money be that! You would not leave this place if you don’t drop the normal charge, it is ten thousand naira or you follow us to the station!”
I felt dazed. 10K? I didn’t even have up to that in my bag. All I had left with me was the 5k I planned to use to buy fuel. I begged profusely, close to tears and as a JJC, told him all I had was 5k. After 5 more minutes of begging he asks me to bring it. I joyfully ran to my car, searched for the money, change and all, and handed it over to the officer. He counted it and asked the junior officer to hand me back my documents which were original copies, foolish me. I got back into the car, already late for work but was relieved the drama was all over.
Next morning as usual, traffic was sooo bad on my side of the road, same spot where I took the one way. I looked out this time to see if the police officers were on duty but they weren’t. I contemplated doing the illegal one way driving again. At least, when I gave my colleagues the gist yesterday, they laughed and told me it’s normal for a first timer to be caught but subsequent ones would be stress-free and easier. They said everyone did it and taught me the tricks of watching out for the officers from a distance and speeding past the road as that’s not the time to behave like a mumu.
As I was about to take this same one-way road, I changed my mind. What if I get caught again? What if the officers not being visible was just a trick? If they catch me again today, I’m sure that pot belly dude won’t let me go. He would definitely arrest me. What’s the point really? I’ll just wait and let the traffic move at my side biko.
Just at that moment, the Honda behind me did the Jackie Chan move and took the one-way I was contemplating. A trailer from ‘nowhere’ was speeding down that road. I heard tyres screech, the driver of the Honda tried to swerve but it was too late! My jaw dropped as I watched people running towards the scene, the car was right under the trailer. Blood everywhere. Hands on heads as people stood by watching the scene. As people tried to get the guy out of the car, I know he couldn’t have survived that crash. At that moment, my side of the road started to move. It was just the traffic light that got jammed. Now restored, the traffic started moving.
I switched off my radio as I drove in silence. I felt tears run down my cheeks. That could have been me!!! I hadn’t understood why God would allow me, who had been so ‘good’ for most of my life, get caught and lose a whole 5k! Now I get it. He knew that it would be much better for me to be taught a lesson and lose as much as 100 thousand naira than to lose my precious life. I prayed to God to forgive me. I had committed the same crime as the man in the Honda but I still had my life. It wasn’t by my own righteousness but by His mercy. I made a new commitment- henceforth I would not disregard the safety in obedience. My one way would always be the right way.