Vanguard (Lagos)

7 August 2010

Nigeria: My Two Hour Ordeal in Police Cell, Terry Tha Rapman

interview

Rap musician, Terry Tha Rapman shares with Showtime Celebrity, the story of his arrest by men of the Nigerian Police for 'loitering' and his two hour ordeal in a Police cell.

Excerpts.

Did you have any premonition about your late night experience last Thursday?

It was just the usual hectic day. I had a couple of runs with my manager. We held a couple of meetings in the Allen axis (Lagos). I was supposed to hook up with a friend who runs an events company to discuss some shows. It was an informal meeting so he said I should buy him a drink.

Were you with your manager?

My manger had left by then because he was tired and it was almost 10pm. Besides, it was an informal meeting and he was a friend. We were there for about 45minutes before I decided to leave just a few minutes before 11pm. I strolled out hoping to get a cab. That was on Toyin street, Ikeja.

And then what happened?

A vehicle just pulled up, not too far from me, and policemen jumped out and grabbed a couple of people. I don't know if they were miscreants. I wasn't bothered because I didn't have anything incriminating on me. Next thing, I heard someone shouting, 'hey you there'.

Hold on. Are you familiar with that neighbourhood?

Yes, I stay in that area.

So what do you think was suspicious about you that night? Could it have been your appearance?

Apart from wearing a black hat and a tee-shirt on jeans, there was nothing more.

Were you high on alcohol?

No, I was not tipsy. One (of the policemen on raid) just called me and said they had called me earlier and that I did not respond. I said, I didn't know and before I knew it, a couple more jumped out of the vehicle and cocked their guns.

How many were they?

Four. I tried explaining that I hadn't done anything wrong but they kept shouting me down. I felt they should at least have searched me but the next thing I knew, they were grabbing me by the shirt to get into the vehicle.

Was it a pick-up van?

No , it was a commercial bus painted yellow. They put me inside and then one of them sat on my laps so I wouldn't jump out. I kept asking the sergeant who I thought to be the leader, what I had done wrong, but he told me to shut up that when I got to the police station, I would find out. They had guns so I had to behave myself.

How many other people were in the bus?

There were like six or seven. I'm not so sure. It was jam packed together with the policemen.

When we got to the police station, I tried explaining but they simply pushed me into custody. At that point, I realised how serious things had become. I tried using my phones, but my BlackBerry battery was low so I couldn't make any radio calls. I resorted to using the BlackBerry message.

They pushed me into a room, just like a cell. There were other people there. Then came this woman, she wasn't wearing a uniform. She asked for my name but I refused to give her because I didn't want my name in any criminal records. Soon they began stripping people of their belongings. Before they got to me, I sent out BlackBerry messages to some friends about where I was.

About 45minutes later, one of the officers came and interrogated me about who I was and why I was loitering. By then one of my friends had called the Lagos State Police Commissioner who called the Area Commander and all of that. Eventually, the Sergeant who led the patrol team was detained.

Were you harassed physically?

They didn't hit or beat me. They just grabbed me by the shirt.

Can you talk about the cell experience?

While I was in the cell, a guy next to me asked me what I was doing time for. I said I didn't do any thing. He narrated to me how he was dating the same girl with one of the policemen and that was the reason he was being victimised. He said he was even yet to contact his folks as at then. I felt I sorry for him.

The release

The Area Commander asked who was Terry and said he had got a call from Abuja saying I was arrested against my will. He apologised and took me to his office. The others (policemen) were surprised and were asking, 'U be Governor pikin?' I said 'no' that I'm an artiste.

They wondered how the IG would call ordering my release and that the leader of the patrol that picked me up, detained, if I was just an artiste. I told him that I didn't know what he was talking about because as at then I didn't even know who was helping me.

Have you been arrested before?

Yes, and funny enough, for this same reason. It was sometimes in 2003. It was me, Six foot plus and three other guys. We were coming from a show in a car and an anti-crime patrol van blocked us, pulled us out of the car and all. I get stopped more times on the streets when I'm in the company of guys. We don't look crooked, yet...

Did this happen here in Lagos too?

No, in Abuja. This is the first time I'm getting arrested in Lagos. I've been stopped and searched severally but never been taken to the station. By the time I came out of the cell, the AC asked me if the Sergeant rough handled me and I said, 'no'. By now, his (the Sergeant's) whole demeanour had changed and it was funny. He was about to be detained and it looked like he was at my mercy.

So did you take back your pound of flesh?

I simply said, he did not harass me and that I only felt he should have asked questions rather than bundle me up at 11pm. But I'm grateful that my phone wasn't taken from me before help came my way. My SOS BBM (BlackBerry messages) to my friends saved me. They (the policemen) apologised afterwards and took me in a patrol van to my residence.

I remember one of them collected my number that he was going to call me the next day if anything came up.

Do you remember his name?

(Reaches for his phone and scrolls through contacts) Yes, they kept calling him Oga Solo.

Have you both spoken since then?

Yes he called me the next morning to find out if I was okay and then he apologised again.

About how long was the entire police incidence?

About two hours.

So are we expecting a song from this experience?

You know its so funny because two of the songs on my coming album actually addresses issues like this. Maybe because of past experiences, both personal and those of friends. These things can happen to anybody. I'm a celebrity,

yet I got picked up for walking around in my neighbourhood at night.

When will the 'Boiz don Hammer' album drop?

August, unfailingly. Everything is looking good. We're waiting for Clarence Peters to come back from America this week so we can shoot the video for the song.

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