Previously on We Are Here...
While all of this was going on in Sage’s area, Abeeboi was squaring off different drama in his department. He’d narrated everything to the lecturer who owned the course he and Herod were going to take, playing the recording of the conversation he had with Herod for him. The lecturer passed the recording on to the HOD. As the exam was about to start, the HOD came and called Herod out to his office. A few minutes later, he sent for Abeeboi. On getting there, Abeeboi reiterated everything that happened and Herod confirmed it. And then he told the HOD that in his defense, “the people we attacked are homosexuals.”
The HOD shut him up at once, and in the presence of his secretary (who doubles as a lawyer), began to outline for Herod the gravity of the crimes he’d committed with his friends. Starting with aggravated assault to armed robbery and blackmail, the HOD made him understand that his crime was way worse than anything he believed we’d committed. One of his lines was: “This University admits students irrespective of their age, race, gender, religion or sexuality. It is an inclusive community. So this is not just a crime against these young men. This is a crime against the university community.” The HOD instructed him to come to the department the next day with all they’d collected from us, as well as his cronies. He also told Abeeboi to bring everyone who was attacked by these guys the next day. There, he said, he’d mediate over the matter and get our things returned rather than report them to the school’s security department which would mean their immediate rustication. And then he finished with a ban on Herod from writing that exam.
Sage and Zara, on their own part, called the police and told them they were being harassed by robbers and cultists. The police came in that evening, arrested everyone they pointed out, including Black, Cross and the caretaker, as well as about five other people. As the police detained the criminals, they told my friends to bring in the others who’d been attacked by the detainees the next day. Some friends of Sage’s, Anyi and Croc, also came in to the station that evening and spoke with the IPO in charge of the case. Then they began trying to reach me, but they couldn’t as none of them had Delle’s number and I still was too much of an invalid to retrieve my number.
Abeeboi came over that night with a bisexual classmate of his, Elektra, who was absolutely miffed by everything that had happened. She gave me her phone and I logged onto my Facebook account, got Zara’s number and called him. When he told me about the assault he and Sage suffered earlier that day, I felt like dying. It was clear that I was the beacon which these hooligans were using to target my friends. I related to him the instruction Abeeboi’s HOD gave, and he, in turn, told me we all were needed at the police station the next day as they’d gotten the police involved, who had arrested some of the miscreants.
The next morning, Abeeboi and I went to Sage’s house to meet a full house. Anyi and Croc had come with a car, so we all piled into it to go see Abeeboi’s HOD. At his office, we discovered that Herod and his cronies didn’t come for the meeting. We carried on without them. We all told our parts of the story and how the attacks occurred. Looking like he was at a total loss, the man asked us if we wanted him to try for a departmental solution because, left to him, he was ready to turn the case over to the school’s security and the police. Then we informed him of the action taken by Sage and Zara after the last attack the previous day. As soon as he heard about the involvement of the police, he told us to pursue the case to the fullest extent, as he would also turn his findings over to the Security Department to ensure the speedy arrest and punishment of the our assailants.
We left immediately for the police station to find, upon our arrival, that the family members of some of those arrested yesterday were already there trying to procure their bail. The IPO called us into his office and asked those of us who hadn’t written our statements to do so. While Abeeboi and I were writing our statements, the IPO brought in two of the guys – Black and another young bearded guy who, apparently, had just joined the mob effort against Sage and Zara on Tuesday afternoon. The IPO started questioning this guy, and was asked to put down in writing his answers to the IPO’s questions.
IPO’s question: Why did you join in beating Sage and Zara?
His answer: Someone said they are homosexuals.
Question: How did you know they are homosexuals? Did you catch them in the act?
Answer: Someone showed me a phone containing gay porn and WhatsApp conversations and said it belonged to them and their friends.
Question: Who showed you the phone?
Answer: I don’t know him.
At this point, the IPO barked an incredulous laugh. Then he said, “You must know that person and provide him today. Otherwise, we will beat and jail the answer out of you.”
The boy’s face crumpled and he looked about ready to cry. He began pleading, reiterating that he didn’t know the person and didn’t know what drove him to join the mob action. The IPO ignored him and collected our statements. Abeeboi then told him about his laptop, which had been locked by one of his attackers. The IPO went into the cell block to bring out some of the boys for Abeeboi’s verification of the culprit. He brought Cross out and Abeeboi identified him as the one who’d locked his laptop. When the new password was demanded from him, Cross tried to deny what Abeeboi had accused him off. But after a series of slaps and punches delivered by the IPO, he yielded the new password.
Minutes after, some other officers came in with another boy. Apparently, they’d found him in his room using Rhean’s generator and Play Station. When Abeeboi saw the boy, he told the IPO that the boy was the third party in the trio that came to his house. After the boy was charged and thrown into the cell, the IPO asked us to wait for the DPO to get in so he’d formally hear our charges against the guys.
The time we spent waiting for the DPO outside was interspersed with major drama as the available family members of these guys came to meet us with different reactions: some were in denial, some openly confrontational and others pled for our leniency. Cross’s girlfriend made some derogatory comment about us being homosexuals, and Zara, being the crazy bitch that he is, read her to filth. As he was talking, he let spill the receipts he had on Cross, receipts he’d obtained from a source in their church. That bit of information didn’t strike me as odd because I’d already figured that only an internally homophobic gay person would be so dedicated to bashing other gay people.
By the time the DPO was ready to see us, my entire body was already acting up. I was tired and hungry – not just for food, but for justice to be served to them!
We got into the DPO’s office and the man welcomed us genially. He asked us to explain how the attacks happened. A lawyer, who was representing the ancient imp who had threatened to cut Abeeboi’s fingers off and had hit Rhean’s, was there alongside the DCO, IPO and the nine accused guys. Rhean was the first to tell his story, then Abeeboi, then Zara and Sage. I went last. When I started my story, the DCO and DPO got really mad because I still looked like a mess, with more injuries than the others.
When I was done, the DPO turned to the guys and reamed them out for what they did. He asked for Herod’s whereabouts as he hadn’t been arrested yet and then asked them to tell their own part of what happened.
When Cross was about to start talking, the DPO asked him to come forward and show him his fingers. After inspecting them, he proclaimed Cross a weed smoker. Cross denied it and the man delivered a resounding slap to his face. When he denied it again, the DPO slapped him again. It happened a third time, before the DPO asked him to carry on with his narration of what happened. Cross began a totally fictitious story of how I’d come to the lodge at a very late hour and how he stopped me at the door to ask who I was, how I looked like a shady criminal (the kind that steals people’s palm slippers) and how I raised my voice at him, and because he’d been drinking, he got angry and slapped me. ONCE! Then (somehow, miraculously) my phone fell into his hands and he discovered “evidence of my homosexuality”. As soon as he mentioned that topic, the DPO shut him up and told him not to mention that issue again, otherwise, what he’d gone through so far would be child’s play compared to what would be done to him.
The ancient imp was next and when he mentioned homosexuality, the DPO shut him up again and asked him, “Are you straight?” He responded in the affirmative and the DPO shut him up again.
At this point, the DPO said he wasn’t interested in hearing their stories. He classified their offences into armed robbery, blackmail, assault and battery, and put the five who were being held only on the assault charge up for bail. The remaining four – Black, the caretaker, Cross and the imp – were thrown back into the cell pending when Herod was caught and our things recovered.
Two days later, the four of them were released on bail, after a payment of about 30,000 naira each, on the grounds that they return all our stuff, pay damages to us and sign an undertaking of assurance of our safety.
On the 29th of March – 10 days after the first attack – our phones, money and other stolen property were returned. However, because some of the stolen items were not returned, the DPO extended their time to the 2nd of April. That day, they came to the station pleading, because according to them, they’d been rendered destitute by the case and barely had two cents to rub together. They returned the rest of our material things but asked us for an extension on the time to pay us for every other thing, damages inclusive.
In all, it was a huge win for us because even though we spent a lot of money, we got the justice that those hooligans never believed existed. As cynical a person as I am, the entire course of events revitalized my belief in the existence of good, of karma and the power in living your truth. Yes, we were attacked. Beaten. Hunted. But in the end, retribution came calling really fast and the results proved that we are here and we are going nowhere.
Written by Mitch