The four ladies seated languidly around the dirty black desk all looked suspiciously at Mr Akpan. One of them was in uniform, the others were dressed casually.
One could tell the ladies around the table had seen their fair share of life’s dark side. On the left side sat a light-skinned woman whose neck was so red, it seemed like a foreign body wrapped around her neck.
“Good morning Sirs…sorry em…Madams,” he said. The looks on their faces indicated they were listening for him to go on as none of them responded to his greetings.
Akpan did not wait for further clues before he continued, “I am here to do a police report on... "
One of them rudely interrupted, "You mean you want a police extract?" She stressed the last word the way his primary science school teacher, Miss Rhoda, nicknamed Rod, would have. She was known for her love of the proverb, "Spare the rod and spoil the child". A sentence a doomed pupil hears before the cane hits the backside. That was years ago, but Akpan felt the dread once more as the fat lady with no neck, well, that was a bit harsh, she once had a neck, but now the neck had disappeared into the massive body. A result of massive snacking while on the job.
"Yes Ma'am, I want a.."
She cut in again, "I'm Sergeant Gwaribo, I would not be addressed as Madam in my office. Take note." She thundered.
"Sorry Ma..em, Sergeant, that was a mistake. Sergeant Gwaribo, I need help with a police extract."
"How many people did your vehicle kill? If it killed one, that would be 150,000. If it was two that would be 200,000."
The way she sounded, it appeared as if it is more cost saving if your vehicle killed more people.
"Em..Sergeant Gwaribo, the police extract I need is not for a crime committed."
"Why didn't you say so?" She sounded a bit accusatory as if he ate her last pancake out of about four sitting on her plate.
Suddenly she smiled, "Oh, you want to travel abroad?" The reply was both a statement and a question.
"You want to leave all of us here and go to Obodo Oyibo to enjoy. Abi?"
Now, the last statement sounded again as if it was a crime to travel out of the country to the Obodo Oyibo (overseas).
Now all of the four ladies were looking at him the way a hungry hawk looks at a day old chick that the mother strayed too far away.
"Giving that kind of extract will cost, oooh... you know the Inspector will have to sign. Getting Inspector's signature will cost at least 30,000. Typing it will cost another 10,000."
"Sorry Sergeant, I am not travelling abroad."
As soon as Akpan said that, the smile suddenly disappeared off the four faces. The same way the public power supply company turns off the power when the football players were about to score a goal.
"Mr Man, tell us what you need police extract for, don't waste our time. Can't you see that this is still morning and that we are busy?"
Akpan tried so much to stifle a laugh. He barely succeeded. These ladies were busy eating and discussing in the office. It is not as if they were busy working. It appears their official duty is to waste time.
“Officer, I am here because my insurance company told me to get a police report as I was involved in an accident.”
“Wait! I thought you said your vehicle did not kill anybody?” retorted one of the other ladies that was busy staring out the window.
“Yes, it was not my vehicle. Two years ago, I was travelling in a commercial bus when a trailer came out of nowhere and rammed into us, killing some people. I was injured.”
“Oh, is that so? If there were some dead people in the vehicle the police must have been at the scene.”
Mr Akpan did not know how to tell Sergeant Gwaribo that she was right and wrong at the same time. Police surprisingly did arrive at the scene of the accident. But when they realised there were still some passengers alive they took off and told them they were the patrol team on a special mission. That they had radioed head office to send an ambulance. An ambulance that never came. He later learnt from his friend, that the team that stopped thought everyone was dead, and had stopped in order to search and take some valuables off the bodies! It sounded preposterous then, but now from what he was seeing, his friend's theory seemed closer to the truth than what the police told the victims that night.
“Sergeant, I am not aware of any police presence at the scene.”
“Oga, did you make an ENTRY?”
“Em…Sergeant, I was unconscious, it would have been difficult for me to file a police report due to that”
She looked unmoved by that reply. She continued, “If you did not make an entry then, it will cost you an additional 20,000.”
“Sergeant, that is too much.” Akpan weakly protested.
“Do you think police work is easy?” She slammed her hand on the desk. A movement that startled Akpan.
“We would have to go back to the Crime Diary of two years ago and make an entry for you. That is called backdating! Do you realise how much work it is to backdate something that happened up to two years ago?”
The way she sounded, Akpan thought that the job was almost, if not more difficult, than turning back the hands of time.
“But since you are the first suspect…em person to walk into this office this morning, we will do the police extract for you for 30,000. This is almost at a giveaway cost. Imagine the millions you will get from the insurance company.”
Akpan wondered how she knew the amount of insurance claim he made.
“Sergeant, the claim is not in millions. I have spent all my life savings on the various surgeries. I am lucky to be alive, all I want is to see if the insurance company will pay my claims,” he pleaded.
“Oga, you have not made any moves to show how seriously you want that extract.”
“Ok, sergeant, how about I pay 5,000?” Akpan looked pleadingly on the four women seated before him.
“You will have to go up.” She pointed up.
Akpan made to step out to go upstairs.
“Where do you think you are going?” she asked.
“I thought you said I should go upstairs?”
For the first time, the sergeant laughed.
“Oga, I meant you have to increase the amount you are offering. We are not small boys on the road collecting 50. As you can see, we are senior officers and you have to put that into consideration.”
Akpan was shocked at the level of impunity. So these ladies knew that their fellow officers were collecting 50 from motorists.
“Officers, that 5,000 is the last money I have on me.”
“In that case, you will have to go to another police station. But just bear in mind, no police station will do it for less than 30,000. Goodbye.”
There was an air of finality in the last statement. Akpan was sad. He quietly exited the office hoping they would call him back. They did not.
As soon as he was out of the gate, he called his Uncle, Boki, a man with connections to almost everyone everywhere.
As soon as the uncle heard what had transpired he said, “I’m sorry my dear nephew, it is unfortunate that our police has been commercialised. I’m afraid you will have to spend some money. Did they really refuse the offer of 5000?”
Uncle Boki always amazed Akpan, this was a man that never finished primary school. His command for the English language was impressive.
“Yes Uncle, they refused.”
“Ok, that is not a problem, I do not know any police in that state. If it was in Abuja, I know a lot of senior officers. But all hope is not lost, go to the High Court.”
“High Court?” Akpan asked, exasperated. “I do not have money to sue anybody.”
“Hahaha, Akpan my boy. You are the funny one. Yes, you are not going to sue anyone. Just go to the High Court. Within the entrance, you will see guys hanging around, approach one and tell him you need a police extract.”
Akpan was confused, but after visiting a second police station and hearing almost the first thing he heard on the first. He decided to give the High Court a visit.
Once again, Uncle Boki was right. Someone at the gate approached him, and for the cost of 3000, he got a police report. All duly signed and stamped from a real police station.
He was amazed. As he was driving home, the police stopped him on the way and asked for tinted glass permit. He had tried to obtain that before without any success, but having acquired some experience dealing with the police, he quickly produced a note of 500. The man collected it and immediately lost all interest in him.
## Authored by @greenrun
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