Friday, December 12, 2014

Short Story - Spending Christmas With The Police



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By Onyinye Orazulike

Would you surety someone for court bail? I did this once and got my fingers severely burnt. I thought I was doing a good thing but the person I stood in for absconded and left me feeling empty and stupid.

The lady was arrested a few days to Christmas and I couldn't stand to imagine the kind of hell she would go through in detention. Also, only God knew how long the case would last, especially when she didn’t have anyone to help her in the police. She couldn’t even afford a lawyer to begin with, worse still she appeared so ignorant she didn’t seem to realise the kind of trouble she was in.


I happened to be her only relative, though distant, who lived in the area, and when the petitioner agreed to settle out of court, I decided to stand in for her so they could release her on bail. It was soon after she absconded that I realized what a thoughtless thing I did.

So how did this all happen?

Well, there was a robbery one night at the phone shop where she worked as a sales girl and the suspect made away with handsets and money estimated to be above four hundred thousand naira.

The police believed that the thief entered the shop with a key but made a vain attempt to make it look like a break in, so they surmised it was an inside job.

She and another man that worked at the phone shop were quickly arrested but she was the only one who had a key to the office. Also, a footprint found on the table, assumed to belong to the thief, matched hers.

The tides were so much against her that had I been in her shoes, I would have begun to wonder if I had not committed the crime without knowing it. But she told me she was innocent and I believed her. However, as soon as she was released from the police custody, she absconded.

If I initially thought her innocent, after her disappearance, I had a rethink. I will never forget being interrogated as though I was an accomplice.

The only advantage I had, which turned out to be my saving grace was that I went back to the police station to report her the moment I discovered that she had travelled. It didn’t however save me from having to report to the police station several times afterwards.

I was at the police station even on the New Year day and believe me, it was not funny.

It was  the first time I was to be  at a police station and among the interesting things I learnt  about police stations is that it gives one the feeling of being guilty and dumb.

I tried to contact her close family members but it was no use. I didn’t really know why I was later let off the hook, perhaps the plaintiff withdrew the case or they just got tired. All I know was that God answered my prayers and the case died a natural death.

The take home from it all for me was, never stand in for someone you cannot vouch for, even if it’s your brother. It is even dicey if money is involved, never ever guarantee someone over an amount you cannot pay with ease.

I felt very stupid. But many of us has done some equally dumb things at one time or the other, like when you stand as a referee for an acquaintance you don’t know so well for a bank account or loan. But what is one supposed to do when someone you know has been seeking a job so desperately, and then having found one, they need just your signature to resume?

Now the big question is, after the ugly experience I had, would I ever stand in as a surety for someone again. The answer is still yes, but it will have to be a very close family member who I can vouch for.

What about you? Any similar tales of how your help turned sour? Will you ever surety someone?




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