It wasn’t SARS but I remember when uniformed men attacked me in Abuja! – Onyeka Nwelue
This is a rehash of a column I published on OlisaTV in 2017, when I was the punching bag of Nigerian uniformed men only it was not SARS. It was the military I have declined to comment on #EndSARS trend, because when I was brutalized, young Nigerians said I deserved it, because I talk a lot and that I am an attention seeker. My cornea was broken. I flew to the US to get treatment. But, now, people want me to feel empathy for those who have been hit or died? It does not work that way. For a Nigerian, if it has never affected them, it does not exist. I will retell my story: I was punched in the eye, several times by about 3 army officers, who had come to defend their colleagues from the National Task Force in Abuja. This happened around 1am on Port Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street in Garki. I was lodged at Crystal Palace Hotel on the 26th of January, 2017. When this happened, I moved out of the hotel. By then, I had already sustained injury in my face. I needed to be in Imo State for a friend’s wedding. It was one of the major reasons I made this trip to Nigeria, so I had to get a sunshade to cover my eyes and fly. I pretended like nothing happened to me.
A woman had run into the premises of Crystal Palace Hotel. A light-skinned woman and she was screaming, Help me! A heavy looking man pounced on her as she fell to the rough ground and started dragging her out. I had just returned from a friend’s house with three friends of mine. We were all lodging at Crystal Palace Hotel. I was not sure I could let a man in mufti, a total stranger take a woman away at that time of the night. We were men and they should have arrested us. We were supposed to be arrested. What moral standard is it that men are the ones who can arrest women for staying out late? Who made such rule? So, I began to question the man in mufti who kept telling me to mind my business.
When I kept querying him, he shouted: ‘Attacker!’ When I eventually stayed and didn’t want to go, he kept shouting that he was being attacked. And about 15 military men with their vehicles, one a VIO vehicle with plate number, CT29RT, surrounded me. That one later messaged me on Facebook and said: “I no even know say Na you. You looked huge!” So, my Facebook fan beat me up.
Before I could finish saying, ‘So, the same people who are supposed to protect us, are the ones killing us,’ I had been punched in the face. A week later, an army officer called me to say that if I went to court, the ‘case would be turned against’ me. It was a threat, so I got myself a lawyer. My lawyer in turn said the war should not be taken to the media, but after a long thought, I realized that to get justice in Nigeria is like waiting till Jesus comes.
I have decided to write this and ask a few questions that will elicit some sort of emotions. If you’re going to arrest any woman you see in the middle of the night and tag her a prostitute, please, try and arrest the men as well.
In all honesty, it is not my job to judge anyone for what they want, but everything must be equal. I am an equalist. If we are going to police women, women should police us. Female police officers should come out in the night and pick boys in skinny jeans and body hugs and shorts, looking for who to seduce. The amount of male sex workers in Nigeria has increased tremendously. They are not homosexuals. Just men struggling to survive in a bad economy.
For the soldiers who manhandled me for trying to save Annabel from being raped, I thank you. My eyes have been opened to the difficulty of being a woman. I would never wish to be born a woman in my next life. It is a tough place to live in. A woman is an endangered species. For those who were gladdened by the fact that I was beaten, I will not pray that your sister encounters these immoral bastards, but that you, will encounter them in your own way and make up your mind if you will stand for women or against them. The women have struggled so much and we must begin to question our ego and double-standards and moral justifications for telling a woman what to do with their vagina when we do anything we want to do with our dicks. If we can only be true to ourselves, we can achieve equity and equality. I must add that when it was time to go to court, my driver and the woman I tried to save, said they would not be able to testify in court. Even my lawyer backed out. If you die for Nigeria and Nigerians, you may die in vain.