Just as I left the hospital.
Before I got to the intersection.
They pulled before us in a black Toyota Sienna.
Blocking us from moving further.
In black and blue jeans.
And black tight t-shirts.
Sunglasses as usual.
Climbed out of the vehicle.
My driver exhaled heavily.
“These people again.”
Two moved toward the Taxify.
Cocking their rifles as though they had caught some criminals.
I sat calmly.
If you are a young man who frequents Taxify or Uber in Lagos, you’d probably get used to that embarrassment.
I had nothing with me just my phone.
And the medication I had gotten from the hospital.
I was so weak.
While they approached I asked my driver.
“Who are those guys?”
“Haaa. Bros, na SARS o.”
“I thought they have banned these guys?”
He looked at me.
“For wia. Na today?”
The two approached one on each side of the car. I kept my hands in plain sight and made no sudden moves.
One of the men shouted at my driver.
“You no go wind down? Abi you want us to beg you?”
The Taxify driver quickly hit the window button as he screamed forcing a smile.
“Aaah officer of the law no vex, sir! I throw way salute.”
The one who had shouted approached my window.
I was looking away.
“Oga, you no dey greet person abi you no see us?”
I slowly turned my head and looked at him.
“Officer, good afternoon, sir.”
“Afternoon. Who are you?”
I was about to answer.
“Oga, come down?!”
One of his folks standing a few steps away shouted.
“Who be dis person wey no dey hear us? Na one of those protesters? Devil go welcome am for hell now if he be one of those protesters.”
He cocked his gun and approached my Taxify.
It was a lonely road.
A few cars passed by the other side of the lane.
I gently got down from the car.
I greeted again.
Both of them.
“Officers, good afternoon, sir.”
My driver came out and said.
“Na my passenger! I pick am from that hospital down the road.”
The one who had asked me who I am shouted at him.
“Shut up! Did we ask you anything? You dey mad? Your moda!”
Then he turned to me.
“Oga, who are you?”
“My name is Kyrian Chiemelie, sir.”
“What do you do? Wetin dey your pocket?”
“I am a writer, sir.”
“No, sir. Author, scriptwriter, filmmaker, sir.”
“Oga, wetin dey your pocket?”
“My phone, sir.”
“Bring it out.”
I dug out my phone.
The other one shouted attracting the rest, pointing his gun at him.
“You are asking us questions? Are you stupid?”
“No, sir. But none of you has the right to search my phone. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
One shouted, running toward us.
“Who dey yarn that rubbish? Na one of the protesters? Shoot the modafuvker!”
The other one said.
“We never know na when we search him phone we go know.”
The Taxify driver said to me.
“Please, unlock your phone. You know what is going on already.”
The one pointing rifle at me shouted.
“Oga, unlock your phone for the last time!”
As I used my fingerprint he snatched my phone from me immediately.
Handed it to the last folk who approached us.
He seemed to be the leader.
He started to go through my phone as he said.
“What did you say you do again?”
“I am a filmmaker, sir.”
I shook my head.
He looked at me.
“You look tired.”
“I just dey come back from the hospital. The one down there.”
“Wetin dey do you? COVID-19?”
“No, sir. Na stress and little sickness. My doctor has given me some tablets, I will be fine in a couple of days.”
As he scrolled through my phone the others watched.
Gun pointed up, down. A few at me.
I remained chilled.
“And you are not one of the end SARS protesters.”
I remained silent.
One of them moved toward me as though he wanted to hit me his rifle.
“Oga, dey ask you, you dey ignore am.”
The man said.
“Leave am. Make I see end SARS pictures on his phone first and he is gone with the gun.”
I was still silent.
A few minutes later.
One said to the one with my phone.
“Oga, did you see any pictures of end SARS on his phone?”
“I never see one.”
“Sir, can I go, please? There is nothing on my phone.”
He looked at me.
“Are you teaching us our job?”
“Not at all, sir. But there is nothing on my phone. My doctor said I should not stand too long.”
“You dey tell us na. We wey no get doctor make we die. We wey dey use chamist cure our infection and malaria.”
I didn’t say a word.
One of them approached me and showed me some images on his phone.
Fresh corpses of youth, both male and female.
Lying by the bush.
Blood gushing from bullet wounds.
I looked at him, in fear.
“Shey dem dey shout end SARS we no dey catch anybody again o. But na make we see pictures of end SARS for person phone the person is gone. Dis ones wey you dey see so na some of the protesters o. Shey dey don die like dis? Dey will keep dying.”
One shouted at him.
“Why you dey tell am this thing? Why you dey leak our secret? Do you know who he is?”
“Shey he talk say na filmmaker? He won’t do anything.”
Goosebumps rushed over me.
In actuality of how these guys are killing in reckless abandon.
The one with my phone said.
“I no see anything for him phone. He is free to go.”
He handed my phone back to me.
I took my phone and said.
As I headed back to the Taxify, a Lexus Jeep was approaching behind us.
They rushed immediately and flew it to stop.
The Taxify driver got in and we started to drive off.
While I looked behind, watching as they dragged five guys out of the car.
About three wore t-shirts.
Boldly written ‘EndSARS’.
The Taxify turned right at the intersection and I couldn’t see anymore.
“Ah. These people are in trouble.”
But I heard it barely ten seconds later.
It was loud from a distance.
Kyrian Chiemelie Offor
Please be careful out there.