One Chance

The day before, I worked late. It was appraisal season as we call it. You’ve worked all year long and now it’s time for your work to be ‘judged’, to check if you met your set targets for the year and see if you’re worthy of a promotion and a juicy bonus. I needed to put in the extra effort, I needed the promotion, and the money, and the right impression was key.

I moved to Yaba a year ago, I had always loved Yaba, lively and buzzling with energy. A vibrant community of students and techies and young people just discovering life, looking for the best housing option on the mainland; the proximity to the Island.

I was tired when I woke up but I brushed myself up and and got ready for work. I found my way to Yaba market, a place I remember vividly for harassment; male traders looking for the most comfortable part of the female body to lay their hands. You can never get their hands off you. Shovelling, pushing, grabbing, they invade all of your personal space with the pretensions of ‘sales hustles’.

I waited at the bus-stop for a bus to Obalende, it was about 6am, I rushed into the first bus with the least demand I was privy to run into. If you know Lagosians, everything is a battle. Another guy jumped in with me and the bus moved. A little distance forward, the bus made a left turn, I didn’t think much of it. There were many turns buses take to link Herbert Macaulay Way. Someone grabbed my neck from the back, he put a gun to my head. In my surprise, I tried to resist and a slap landed on my cheeks. He requested for my phone and ‘ATM card’, he went through my phone messages, checked my account notifications and debit alerts to see how much I had in my bank account. There were 5 of them, all men. he requested for my ‘ATM pin' and I gave it to him. I had two accounts with different banks, he saw messages from the second bank on my phone and asked that I provide the ATM card for the other bank. I told him I didn’t have it with me, he slapped me again. I cried that it was a new account and I don’t have the card yet. One of them made the drop at a nearby ATM to make the withdrawals from my account while they drove me around aimlessly. They took all of the money they could take as allowed for a ‘one-day' transaction. They transferred the rest to another account. On confirmation that the guy has made the withdrawals and the transfers, they sprayed something in my eyes that rendered me momentarily blind, and dropped me off at some random place I had no idea of. In my blind state, I mustered all courage to wave down a car and asked that the driver drop me off close to my house. I won’t be going to work that day.