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Column No.6: For urgent attention of the Inspector-General of Police

Last week I wrote about a few things bothering me greatly, and one of them included how the security in Abuja – our federal capital…

Last week I wrote about a few things bothering me greatly, and one of them included how the security in Abuja – our federal capital – seems to be in a deep, dark and downward spiral. While I used a recent experience to highlight the problem in a most personal way, I had no idea I would again need to resort to the same just a week after. Two days ago, on the evening of the 7th of September, I was driving home after grocery shopping at a supermarket in Wuse II, and decided to exit down the bridge that links to Wuse Market and onto the highway that goes to Mabushi roundabout. It was about 11pm so the roads were not busy, and mere seconds after passing the area where there usually is a police checkpoint, I came upon two men scuffling in the middle of the road.

It was immediately clear who the assailant was, and who was being assaulted. But it was more than assault, as I found out. The victim (let’s call him Tall Guy) was yelling at me, pleading ‘Please help me!’ as the assailant (lets dub him ‘Red Eyes’), and I was cautiously slowing down, processing the near-assault I escaped barely two weeks ago on a major road just after Garki. I processed it all quickly, thinking how it could be a novel way to get victims and carjack them, by appealing to their bleeding-heart goody-two-shoes nature. At this point Tall Guy was practically crying, but I made up my mind to drive away from what was clearly a dangerous situation. My mother didn’t raise any fools, after all.

But as I drove away, I looked at my rearview mirror and saw that Red Eyes had already pinned Tall Guy to the ground and had raised a long, menacing-looking dagger up over his victim. Something in me snapped, and I decided to speedily reverse to go and offer some sort of help. After all, my mother did not raise any heartless children, either. Anyways, as I got within range, it seemed Tall Guy had somehow regained footing and began to run towards my car. Behind him, and chasing most menacingly, was Red Eyes. I needed to think fast: If I unlocked my doors for Tall Guy, it meant Red Eyes could also gain access, and probably switch to me. A phone-snatching could become a carjacking, or worse. So I grimaced, and held to my steering wheel tightly, and I told Tall Guy to jump on my door and hang on, which he did the way a man literally running for his life would.

I drove away while Tall Guy held on for dear life, and I saw Red Eyes fade away from the rearview mirror. By then we were on the highway proper, but I needed to clear to a safe area so the victim, now a survivor, would get into my car for a proper getaway. But some of the cars driving past on the highway had seen me driving away with someone hanging on my door, and of course it looked like he was struggling with me to maybe snatch my car. I slowed down, and at least  five cars parked around us, with the occupants alighting suddenly and coming to hat seemed to them to be a rescue. They were mostly relieved (one looked disappointed), as Tall Guy explained and I confirmed that it was actually a ‘rescue’. By this time, he had taken off his nice kaftan, underneath which he had a white vest on, which had a very big, moist, and red patch on it. Tall Guy was bleeding from a stab wound, and a new problem was born: Who would take him to a hospital?

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A middle-aged gentleman with a huckster vibe offered, but it did not fly. Tall Guy looked at me and asked if I could help him. I had already begun, so why stop now? He got in and I drove to the Maitama District Hospital, where the gateman took a look at the bloodied singlet and remarked “Another one?” We were puzzled, but soon realized why he said so. Apparently, there was a victim of a stabbing/robbery combo earlier, who was so critical that he had to be taken to the National Hospital on account of organ damage caused by the assailant’s weapon. The emergency ward of the hospital was already facing a flood of other emergencies when we got there, but the staff – along with a Dr. Zainab – handled the load most efficiently and with a grace that the situation at hand should have made impossible. Their story is for another day, God bless them.

Moments later, and many stitches after, Tall Guy was ready for his anti-tetanus shots, and support meds. By then his friends and one of their parents had already reached the hospital and were thanking me far more than I should be. I kept thinking what would have happened if I hadn’t made the split-second decision to stop and help. I also thought about the other guy who received no help and had his life hanging on a thread, and I prayed he makes it. I got home way past midnight, and could not sleep till some hours after. Yes, I thought of the events of the past few hours, and that of the past two weeks, and I also thought about how if nothing is done, these incidents will continue to rise, and rise. Reports abound, every single day. While I use this to urge the Inspector-General of Police to as a matter of emergency do something about this surge of violent crime in Abuja, I also urge citizens to be mindful of where they are, and when. May God help us all.

Postscript: I know I will receive messages which will chide me for stopping to help under such unsure circumstances. I will preempt such people here and now, and say that I have no regrets stopping for Tall Guy. In fact, the only regret I have is not having a beautiful, shiny baseball bat that would have made this ending of this story slightly different. Thank you.

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