“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” — Psalm 118:9
It was a case of escaping from danger only to fall into a very terrible problem. Emeka Azu from Olodi Parish of the Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, Lagos, had run into a gun fight between armed robbers and the police. Bullets were flying about but God delivered him. He quickly found a place and hid himself to wait for the shooting to end before continuing to his destination. But the end of the fracas did not bring him the anticipated relief. It instead marked for him the beginning of yet a bigger trouble. Policemen smarting from the death of one of their colleagues, came and pulled him out from where he was hiding and accused him of being one of the armed robbers. He was badly beaten and tortured. Even the crowd cursed and spat on him as the policemen handcuffed him and took him away. While he was in detention, there was a hint about some intention to eliminate him, especially, as the police had neither taken his statement nor made any entry about his arrest and detention. But he continued to pray to the God of the Watchman; and that was how he was miraculously delivered. And so, to show his gratitude to God, he led his family to a special thanksgiving service at Olodi Parish recently where he shared this moving testimony:
“BRETHREN, praise the Lord! I want to give glory to God Almighty for saving my life. The Lord delivered me from the hands of Nigerian policemen who wrongly accused me of being an armed robber and tortured and detained me.
The day was Tuesday, August 14, 2012, at about 12.30pm. I had engaged the services of a commercial motorcyclist (also known as okada) to take me to a bank. Midway in the journey, we ran into a scene of gun fight between policemen and armed robbers. As we suddenly encountered them, the motorcyclist stopped abruptly, and both of us fell off the bike. I managed to crawl to a nearby security post of a bank and hid myself. It was while I was there that I got to know that the exchange of bullets was between the police and armed robbers. After the police had gained control of the situation, they discovered that one of them (an inspector) had lost his life while one of the armed robbers was also killed. Then they came to where we were hiding and pulled me out. They also arrested another young man who had also run to the place to hide from the bullets and accused the two of us of being members of the robbery gang. Soon, some policemen from one of the commands (Area B) came and they ordered us to follow them. When I was handcuffed and being roughly led away, I wondered if what was happening to me was taking place in a dream. I never imagined that I would ever find myself in such a situation, but I reassured myself that I would be freed once they investigated and found out that I was innocent. But I was wrong.
I received a lot of beating from the policemen. Even bystanders joined them. Some spat on me while some beat me with any object they could lay their hands on. At some stage, I thought my end had come. I was lamenting and wondering why I had suddenly fallen into such a horrible situation. I continued to call upon God to save my life, because if I died in such a shameful manner, my name would remain tarnished and the stigma would remain with my family forever.
We were driven to their command headquarters. Immediately, we got there, many of the policemen trooped out. Then those who apprehended us began to call on them to come and see the person that killed their colleague, Taiye, that is, the inspector that was killed during the shootout between the police and the robbers. They said I had thrown my gun away. It was terrible. I was mercilessly beaten and treated like a horrible criminal. I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that this kind of thing would ever happen to me.
Later, I was locked up in a cell. An incident that put great fear in me occurred. That same day, an officer came and called out some names of detainees except mine. At the end, he asked if there was any person who did not hear his name and I indicated, but he told me to shut up that my case was a different one. I kept quiet and wondered what I had found myself in. There was no way I could reach any person on phone to let somebody know the trouble I was into. To show how bad my case was, my boss who is an assistant comptroller of Customs came to the station to look for me but he was told that I wasn’t in their custody. In fact, there was no record of my arrest in their books! Later, one of them who I guessed was a friend of the late inspector, came into the cell and asked the other person who was arrested along with me his name. And he told him. He inquired to know where he came from and he told him. He also asked me and I told him my name and where I came from. He wanted to know what I did for a living, and when I told him I was a clearing agent, he became more furious and promised me that I would see hell.
Unknown to me at that time, the armed robber that was shot dead during the gun duel with the police had on him an identity card of a clearing agent. So, that was what complicated my case because they now assumed that all clearing agents were thieves. The other person arrested with me was not touched while I was beaten mercilessly, and I kept wondering why. Their plan, as was suspected, was to secretly execute us the following day without investigating the matter or even taking down our statements. I prayed fervently that night, calling on the God my mother served faithfully in the Watchman to deliver me. I pleaded with Him to defend and save me from this trouble and to equally save my family’s name from being rubbished. As God would have it, information somehow got to my boss the following morning that I was actually in custody at the police station where he had earlier on looked for me and was told that I wasn’t there. He came back to the station and met the DPO who after some discussions advised him to see the Area Commander as the case was beyond him. When he met the Area Commander, he told him that it was only God that could deliver me because there was nothing he could do. He was, however, advised to see the Commissioner of Police before the case could be referred to the Inspector General’s office in Abuja. It was only at this stage that I was brought out of the cell and my statement was taken. My boss went to see the commissioner (who incidentally is known to him). There he was able to prove to the commissioner that I was not a thief that I was his boy who worked for him, and that he knew me very well, that there was no way I could be involved in robbery. That was how the other young man and I were released.
Regaining my freedom was an act of God because I was sure they didn’t mean well for me. To them, I was an armed robber who had killed one of their own so my life must also go for it. I thank God that today I am alive to tell this story. Praise the Lord!”