Conga Square has been calm lately after what happened last week Tuesday. That morning it was raining so heavily, delaying my going to work. My house is not all that far from my workplace. I live in the low-cost part of the Estate. Well, if they call those living in Conga Square, I’ll still come out. After all, those living in Mararaba still claim to be Abuja pikin.
As I walked to the hotel with my umbrella, a small boy of about sixteen years old, dressed in shabby clothes nearly pushed me down as he ran. He was pursued by three men.
“Hold him” one of the men shouted, but it was too late, the boy was already far from me.
“Gini ka omere? (What did he do?)”, I asked inquisitively.
“He is a thief, an evil child. He stole”, one of them responded as they hurried after the boy. I stood for a moment, confused if I should go after them or rush to the hotel. I was already late for work. I quickly rushed to the hotel, dropped my bag, signed the staff register for attendance, and hurried out. Ekene and Ikenna followed me out of curiosity. I ran in the direction the boy and the men ran to, from afar I could see people gather. We ran to the scene, and the boy lay on the floor bleeding. People, mostly youths, gathered around him beating him, every member of the mob feeling like the king of the jungle as they carried out their jungle justice. The boy was already weak as he faintly cried for help. At this point, we were confused.
“Cherenu (wait)” Ikenna shouted, “let’s take him to the police instead”.
“Yes”, Ekene supported. But the boys continued beating him.
“He will be used to teach all those hoodlums that disturb the estate a lesson” one of them shouted while panting and beating the boy.
We tried to stop them but we couldn’t. “It’s like all of you are in the same gang?” One of them attacked us.
“Wetin the boy steal?”, Ekene asked.
“You know mummy Triumphant shop, the boy go carry one tuber of yam wey she leave for outside begin run, na this Oga wey dey here see am raise alarm”, one of the men I saw running after the boy narrated.
Some other people joined us in begging them to have mercy on the boy. The rain was already heavy, even our umbrellas could not save us from the rain. Ekene suggested we go back and call the police. We ran back to the hotel, but none of us knew how to contact the police. We started asking around and finally, one of our security men gave us a number to call.
We ran back to the scene, the extra-judicial prosecutors had left the boy, he was bleeding, drenched and muddy. We carried him to a clinic nearby to help him. Tears rolled down my eyes as he shivered and moaned in pain.
The only thing I kept saying was “because of yam” as I wondered if this boy’s life was equal to a yam tuber.