I was interrogated by the police for about two hours and I maintained my innocence. I didn’t know a thing about Aisha’s disappearance and that was it. Trust the faulty police system to try and do what they aren’t trained to do. The officer in charge of my interrogation stopped asking me if I knew where she was and started compelling me to say I killed her after kidnapping her. At first, I thought it was a joke but that changed after a series of slaps and torture,
“You don kill am abi? Oya talk am say you kill am. Write am for statement.”
At this point, I was hanging by my wrist which was cuffed to the anchor in the ceiling. I almost broke into telling them I killed her just so the pain could stop. My wrist was bruised and dislocated. I was refused my right to a call and treated as a criminal. Aisha had not been missing for 24 hours yet I was treated like a convict. I tried to reason with her mother but she wouldn’t listen. She just believed I was the only one who knew her daughter’s whereabouts. In a teary voice, I said to the police officer,
“Sir, Aisha must have friends. They probably know where she is. Maybe she is…”
I was interjected with a blow to the lip before I said another word. Furious, I expressed that he had no constitutional right to treat me in such ill-manner but that didn’t help either. He reached for his sidearm, removed it from safety, cocked it and threatened to shoot my knee. I became anxious, nervous and scared all at once. My heart raced for survival, I was sweating profusely, and my hand didn’t stop vibrating as I grabbed the pen to sign a false statement which the officer had now written. Then it occurred to me that I was a corp member. How could I have forgotten that I am the government’s responsibility?
“I am a corper sir. I at least want to see my LGI.” I told the officer. It was as if he got a call from above. He responded in a subtle manner.
“Ah! Why you no talk since? You wan spoil my career abi?”
He wrinkled the paper, toss into a corner, then went ahead remove the handcuff from my wrists. He apologized to me as his life depended on it then went ahead to release me. I was still being processed out of the station when I burst into tears. The only reason I will not end up in jail is that I am a corp member. I didn’t understand until then the magic in being a corp member. Unfortunately, it was a spell that would eventually come to an end. In just four hours, I had been to hell and back. I stepped out of the station to the sight of Iya Ai and Aisha. They were discussing with the DPO who stood with them a distance from the station’s entrance. At that moment I knew I was going to take my pound of flesh. Upon setting her eyes on me, Aisha raced towards me.
“I am so sorry dear, please don’t be mad at my mum.” She said. I was too weak, I didn’t utter a word. I was so furious, whatever I said could easily be used against me in the court of law though I was no longer under arrest. She began to explain where she was,
“I was at Mary’s place. Yesterday was her birthday. I had a bottle of Smirnoff ice and slept off. By the time I woke up, it was already late. I wanted to come home early but we got talking and I lost track of time. Abbey, I am sorry.”
I was disinterested. I just kept walking. I was going to the Local Government to report the incident to my Local Government Instructor. The DPO beckoned at me but I ignored him, totally. I found out later that she was having an extramarital affair with Aisha’s mother and that must have informed his sentiment and the ill-treatment I suffered. Aisha kept apologizing and yet I didn’t respond to her pleas. I wasn’t angry at her, I was angry at a failed system, the police and her mother. Iya Ai rushed over and offered to pay for the treatment, I shrugged her off. Without a show of remorse, she shoved some naira into Aisha’s hand and told her to meet her at the shop within the hour. Aisha walked with me all the way to the secretariat, pleading with me all the way.
Upon arrival, I reported the incidence to my LGI. He told me to write it down but I could not. My hands were still shaky.
“Are you his girlfriend? Help me write it down,” he said to Aisha. Only if he knew she was the cause of my expired travails. She obliged and wrote as I narrated. I managed to stick to the most important part of the story, the wrongful arrest and torture. Weeks later, the officer who tortured me was suspended and the station in question made to pay compensation. Before then Aisha took me to a nearby hospital where I was treated.
I returned to the villa where everyone kept wondering and asking what transpired but I didn’t honour them with a response. I just wanted to sleep and forget it happened. Aisha wouldn’t leave because I hadn’t spoken to her since. I entered my room and was about to shut the door on her but she stopped it with her body. In a spontaneous manner, she burst into tears,
“Abbey, how hard is it for you to forgive me? I begged you all the way from the station to the hospital and back but you did not answer. Now you want to shut me out of your room. I thought you were better than the others. I thought I could change for you. I thought…”
I pulled her in before she could finish the sentence. By now guilt had welled up within me. I figured she deserved better than the silent treatment. Moreover, it was her mother who got me arrested, not her. I hugged Aisha and told her it was fine, and that I was sorry too. She hugged me tightly too like love birds reuniting. She sobbed on and I managed to console her. We got lost in the moment and kissed. It was soothing, and I would argue any day that it relieved the pain. I went ahead to have my bath and by the time I was done, she had bought us food. We ate, then kissed and cuddled. We slept off afterwards.
I opened my eyes to her absence. The time was a few minutes past seven. I managed to stand up from the bed as my hand was still hurting. When I finally stood on my feet, I found a note she had left for me.
“I think it is safe to leave before my mother gets you arrested again. I love you, baby.”
Love? Baby? I smiled.