It was 1:00pm on Friday. I had gotten back early from class and was trying to rest in my hostel room.
Fridays are the only free days for me because my lectures end by 1pm. Every other day, my classes end by 5pm and I get back to the hostel by 9 or 10pm because I stay back to study most times.
On this Friday, I was actually reading an immunology notebook because I had a test the next day (Saturday) when I dozed off in my hostel room.
Two of my roommates were present, both laying in bed.
I hadn’t slept for long when I was awoken by raised voices.
I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying so I tried ignoring it. When the noise wouldn’t stop, I got up from my bed and saw my roommates standing at the door, watching the drama outside.
I peeped out and saw over 10 security men standing in front of the room next to mine.
Immediately the sleep cleared from my eyes. What would male security personnel possibly be doing inside a female hostel?
Then my roommates told me the story. And I’ll summarize it for y’all but here’s a little background.
The university where I school is in the North and matters pertaining to religion are not trivialized.
The hours of 1-2 every Friday are usually very quiet in the whole school as Muslims (men) from all parts of campus and even some from outside the school premises gather in the school’s general mosque and in front of the school’s main gate to observe the jumaat prayer.
I stay on the second floor of the eighth block in the hostel and my room and block is directly adjacent the school’s main gate so we just need to step out of the room to see the people praying.
According to what I heard, on this faithful Friday, the ladies in the room next to mine who happen to be Muslims were playing and shouting outside their room. Some people even said they wore skimpy dresses and were parading themselves through the hall, combing their hair and doing all sorts of things when it was obvious that the men praying could see them. This is against the tenets of Islam.
Their noise obviously attracted the attention of the people praying and immediately the prayers were over, some security men who had been praying too rushed into the hostel and came up to my floor.
And that was what resulted in the noise that woke me up.
You could tell that the security men were furious as they raised their voices, saying all sorts.
They brought padlocks and asked the girls to come out of their room. They were going to locks their room till further notice.
They also seized their student identity cards.
At this point, a huge crowd had formed. All the girls in the hostel had come out of their rooms and were watching what was happening.
Even people from outside the hostel who could see from outside looked up to feed their eyes.
While I stood at the door with my roommates, still trying to process what was going on, one of the security men received a call and the person on the other end asked him to include the room next to the ladies room, which happens to be my room.
Immediately, the security man faced my roommates and I and asked us to submit our ID cards too., saying we were also part of the ladies disturbing their prayers.
The kind of confusion that hit me at that point was from my village.
“Ahh… No sir. We were inside our room when everything was going on. We had no idea what even happened. I was even sleeping sef. ” I explained.
“Give me your ID cards now!” A huge security man barked.
My roommates and I scurried back in fear, trying to think of ways to separate ourselves from that mess.
“Submit your ID cards and come out. We’re locking your rooms too. All of you will either be suspended from the school or you will lose your bed space in the hostel. Since you all acted like illiterates and refused to respect people’s religion” Another security man shouted.
I took a step back into my room, trying to process the situation. I was wearing a trouser and a spaghetti top.
I opened my box, got a top and wore it. I picked my keys and my phone and stepped out to meet them.
My roommates stepped out too.
We kept trying to explain to the security men that we were only spectators and this was a case of implication, when the Dean of student affairs of the school arrived. Apparently, the Vice Chancellor had called him to ask if he knew about the uproar in the female hostel.
How did I find myself in this mess?
Different things started going through my mind. I began to ask myself rhetorical questions.
Dupe why didn’t you just stay back at the faculty? Dupe why did you come back this early? Who will you call to save you now?
I approached the Dean and tried to make my petition. “Good afternoon sir, My roommates and I have nothing to do with this but they seized our ID cards and locked our room”.
” Don’t worry if you’re innocent, just explain to them at the security office”. He answered.
It was 1:30pm.
The security men led us, as we walked to their head office with thousands of people watching us. It was one of the worst days of my life.
How can I be famous for the wrong thing? More so something I didn’t do?
People stared until their eyes almost fell out.
I was tired and hungry. I hadn’t eaten that day. I had planned to read a little, sleep and then cook something but Satan stepped in.
When I saw that no one was ready to listen to our plea, I started praying in the Spirit under my voice. I prayed all the way to their head office.
We met the head of the security men who started his own episode of lambasting. Calling us all sorts of names.
I approached him and explained my own dilemma and what he said annoyed me.
“Nobody knows who is guilty. If you’re innocent as you said, then it’s unfortunate that you’re a victim of circumstances. But for now, you all are guilty”.
An alarm rung in my head. Growing up, my mom has always prayed one prayer for my sister and I and it was ” May you never fall victim of circumstances”.
I didn’t know how important that prayer was then. Now, I know.
It is very possible to be implicated. People have gotten killed for crimes they know nothing about.
I kept thinking about the possible ways the situation could end. Suspension, rustication, losing my bed space, and so on.
I kept praying. Lord you can’t be watching this happen to your daughter.
In a nutshell, we spent 3 hours at the security office, pleading and begging. We were made to write statements.
Then we were taken to the Senate building, into the Dean’s office, where the guilty ladies confessed, saying they shouted because they saw a wall gecko and they didn’t mean to disturb the jumaat prayer.
They were separated and warned and the rest of us were taken back to the security office to write an undertaking.
After which they returned our ID cards and gave us the keys to our room.
Looking back now, I just wonder at the injustice in Nigeria. Why should someone who did absolutely nothing wrong write an undertaking?
Who does that?
My beloved country.
Take note that all our trips to the security office, Dean’s office and back were by foot.
My legs cried for help that day.
It was 5:30pm when I eventually got back to my hostel room.
My head and legs throbbed with pain. My stomach churned.
I had never been in an implicating situation before and I’m glad that God brought me out eventually but I believe He wanted me to learn from it.
So I’ll share a few lessons I learned and few tips to help you if you’re ever in a similar situation.
I didn’t start praying at the security office. I started praying immediately they involved me.
When something like that happens, you start praying instantly. Don’t wait until things get out of hands.
My prayers worked.
Your tears and worry will do next to nothing to help at times like that so ensure your mind is sound and you’re calm.
When I realized they weren’t ready to listen to my plea, I stopped fretting and panicking and became calm.
I decided to see it as an adventure and I was even laughing through it because I was confident that God was with me.
Think of people who can help you.
After calming your mind, start thinking immediately. You should know one or two persons who you can call if things go South.
I thought of my dad and my mom first because my dad is a lecturer and even though he doesn’t lecture in my university, he has friends all over the university. My mom also is a staff of my university. + The dean of student affairs knows my mum so if things were to get out of hand, I knew who to call.
I thought of my lecturers, security men in my residential quarters, my friends’ dads who were significant people in the university, and other people who I had established a good relationship with.
This is a perfect time to activate the gift of men.
Keep your attitude in your pocket.
If you’re taken before security men or a disciplinary committee, that is not the time to be rude.
Be as polite as possible. An aura of pride and arrogance will only further implicate you.
One of the ladies with us tried giving the security men an attitude and it made matters worse for her. She was set apart for special punishment.
Be humble and respectful.
Not because they deserve it but because your life and your peace of mind is more important than someone’s ego.
Usually, the people in charge will want to flex their muscles and exercise authority over you. Don’t be surprised when they talk anyhow and say things they shouldn’t say. Especially if they’re security personnel who are usually disrespected by the average Nigerian student. They seize opportunities like that to suppress students.
To get out of that situation, massage their ego and let them be happy.
Lastly, be confident.
The fact that I said be humble doesn’t mean you should become weak and afraid.
Be confident and unshaking. Let them see that you are ready to respect them as authority but you’re not ignorant of your own place.
I carried myself with class through it all. I didn’t speak Hausa (which is the local language around me and all the ladies were speaking). I communicated in fluent Queen’s English which compelled them to approach me differently.
Of course if the need arose, I would have readily communicated in their local language.
I wasn’t intimidated neither was I afraid. The only worry I had was that I had pages of books to read against my test to next day and I had to be at church that evening.
And that’s it. I hope you enjoyed my story.
Are you in a Nigerian university and have you experienced such before?
For me, that was my first time in such a situation.
Let’s talk in the comment section below.