Call it fate’s peculiar design: when the hunter becomes the hunted, the hunted laughs last.

The road stretched ahead, winding through picturesque landscapes of a valley with a river winding past it. Littered with Moringa trees, the hillsides of Akachi Road were pleasant and peaceful, an oasis of calm as I drove on. Little did I know that my calm drive from Owèrrè to the bustling commercial city of Aba would soon take a dramatic turn. As I approached the Diamond Cruz Hotel, I saw the ominous silhouette of a Road Safety Corps checkpoint ahead. My mind raced, reminding me of the stories I’d heard about corrupt officers in this area who would not hesitate to extort money from unsuspecting motorists. I maintained my composure and securely fastened my seatbelt, hoping it would deter unwanted attention. To my dismay, I got flagged down.

“I’m impounding your vehicle and seizing your driver’s license.”

Stern-faced, her robust figure straining against the seams of her uniform, she wasted no time accusing me of speeding. “Pull over, sir,” she shouted. My heart sank. Instead of insisting I wasn’t speeding, I apologized, “Officer, I’m sorry!”
“Na sorry I go chop?” Her ample belly seemed to emphasize her query. All I could do in my panic was stammer out a response in pidgin. “Officer, pocket dry wella o. Hunger dey even tear my belle.”
“Can I see your license and roadworthiness documents, sir?” she demanded.

She scoffed, her eyes simultaneously scanning my car’s interior and the documents I handed her. As she flicked through the papers, sweat beads adorned her forehead like a makeshift tiara, glistening in the sunlight as if she were a polished trophy. Was she performing a background check on my car? “Is everything okay?” I asked. I couldn’t help but stifle a snicker, watching her fan herself with the roadworthiness document.

“Yeah, everything’s okay, but…” she stopped mid-sentence, peeping into the car. “I’m impounding your vehicle and seizing your driver’s license.”

Panicked, I begged her to reconsider, hoping that a plea for understanding might soften her heart. “Please, Officer, I understand the importance of safety, but I have urgent matters to attend to in Aba. Can’t we find a different solution?” Her expression remained cold and unmoved. “No exceptions,” she declared sternly, “we must enforce the law.” Without a word, she walked out on me. The lady’s graceful sway was reminiscent of a hippo as she rejoined her colleagues, who were busy writing tickets and collecting tolls from other motorists.

As the minutes dragged on, my desperation grew. “Officer, I beg you, have mercy,” I pleaded. “I have no way to reach my destination without my car. Can’t you write me a ticket?” But it seemed futile; she was resolute in her stance. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she got into my car, her mission oblivious. “Alright, let’s find a compromise; so that you can be on your way.” She furrowed her brow, and sweat droplets performed a daring high dive from her chin, forming tiny pools on the floormat. Her cheeks flushed with effort, resembling ripe tomatoes that had spent time in the sun. “Here’s the deal: ₦20,000 in cash, no bank transfer.”

“But that’s more than the money I have,” I protested. “I can’t part with that much cash.”

“Suit yourself, sir! God knows I’m very considerate.”

A twist of fate and the glare of injustice now cloud my motives; my moral compass is at a crossroads.

After haggling, I plopped the cash onto her trunk-sized lap. “This is all I’ve got, ₦10,000.” I handed over the money with a heavy heart; it was the sum I had set aside for fuel and other necessary expenses on this trip. Dejected and defeated, I resumed my journey, feeling the weight of injustice pressing down on my shoulders. Just as I was about to merge onto the Osisioma Interchange, a ringing phone broke the silence in my car. I fumbled for mine, and to my surprise, it wasn’t my phone buzzing. My eyes widened as I spotted an Apple iPhone 12 Pro-Max sitting in between the passenger seat and the seatbelt buckle. “Hello?” I answered, uncertain of who was on the line.
“Who is this?”
A familiar voice ranted, “It’s the officer who stopped you at the checkpoint?”

In disbelief, I realized it was the road safety officer. “Oh,” I replied, my voice tinged with annoyance and curiosity, “You left your phone in my car?”

She sighed in relief and said, “Oh, thank goodness you answered. We did not part ways amicably, but I need my phone back. Where are you?” With Nigerian law enforcement officials, Arrogance is an entitlement. It did not escape me how ironic the circumstance was. Here I was, the victim of her corrupt practices, and now she sought my help. Dark humor swept over me, and I couldn’t help but let out a bitter laugh. “Sure, Karma is a fat bitch,” I jested. “This time, I’ll be the one setting the terms.”
“Don’t do this,” she pleaded. Overwhelmed by the urge to release a barrage of curses, I abruptly terminated the call.

Overwhelmed, I grappled with the conflicting voices in my head. While Lucifer hushed tempting ideas, the angels on my shoulders preached forgiveness and convinced me to do the right thing. A twist of fate and the glare of injustice now cloud my motives; my moral compass is at a crossroads.

© Ugo Nkwoala | TheVillageGong | 2023

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