It was the second day of the 24-hour curfew imposed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state. I was returning from the office, confident that as a staff of a media house I am covered by the exception by the governor that essential services workers , like media and health staff, be allowed to move during the period. So, I believed that once stopped by security personnel, I would explain to them.
But I did not envisage that security personnel who I expected to enforce the governor’s order would not be on the road. Neither did I expect that some people would have the courage not only to defy the order but also impose their own order, even if not consistent with that of the governor.
From the beginning of the Gbagada Expressway [coming in from Oworonshoki] up to the flyover bridge [Anthony Village], I encountered at least 7 ‘checkpoints’ [roadblocks] manned by hoodlums [miscreants if you choose to call them that]…fierce looking fellows armed with machetes, cutlasses and axes.
They had these looks that would make you think twice before you try anything funny. And the roadblocks were meaner than the ones the Police use. So, they were demanding money before we were allowed to move to the next checkpoint…minimum N500. I gladly complied. Those who tried to engage them or at least tried to convince them didn’t find it funny as they were using the weapons to hit their vehicles. Next were the checkpoints from Anthony ‘Isale’ to Jibowu leading to the bridge to Abalti Barracks/Ojuelegba area…they were about 5 or 6,although their charges were quite fluid…they rejected N100 anyway. And the only one at Surulere was under the Alhaji Masha bridge. There they charged quite exact, N200! They even gave me N300 after I gave them N500 note.
Oh, lest I forget.
Before I got to that area I had a scary experience. It was at the Coca-Cola junction at Alausa, Ikeja. I had made a detour from the old Toll gate back to Alausa, because the express by the Toll gate was blocked by hoodlums. But when I got to the intersection by Oluwalogbon Motors hoping to connect Allen Avenue via Airport, I ran into another check. This time there was no blockade on the road, but a fierce looking man was approaching me with a big stone. And there was no mistaking that if the distance between us was closed further that I would not lose, at least, the windshield. Instinctively, I engaged the reverse gear. Wonderful, Lewis Hamilton would surely envy my skills. I turned right in front of Zenith bank at Radio and made a fast return to Alausa. This lone warrior appeared more dangerous. Perhaps I could still plead with the fellows at the barricade on the express road. By providence soldiers had cleared the express and I hit the road towards Gbagada. That way, I thought, should not lend itself to blockade by the local champions.
How wrong I was. I had a smooth ride until I ran into the fiery fellows with dangerous weapons at Gbagada.
I am happy I made it home, but the budget or “service charges”? Please, let me save you that detail.