It would have been a different story for Joshua Francis if not for the swift intervention of the police. The man who dressed like a female, with knee-length skirt, hijab and eyelids darkened with eyeliner, got into trouble recently after he was found to have disguised as a woman. He was beaten and tyre put on his head before policemen intervened. According to the story by Tribune, the 18-year-old boy got into trouble on Wednesday, March 30, when he attempted to hitchhike, dressed like a female. But for the timely intervention of a patrol team from Egbeda Division in Oyo State Police Command which was invited by a member of the public, Joshua would have been burnt to death based on the suspicion that he intended to carry out a criminal act.
A lady, Mrs Lawal, who is a nurse, reported that while going to Ikire in Osun State, she stopped at Iwo road to pick passengers out of sympathy for them because of the ongoing fuel scarcity. She noticed a young lady in hijab and chose her out of the many people, with the belief that she would be harmless. But as she was about to move, Mrs Lawal was said to have scrutinised her passenger closely and noticed features that made her feel that ‘she’ was not a female.
She enquired from the passenger who said she was a lady. She asked her to remove her hijab so that she could see her hair. She removed it slightly and the woman noticed that ‘she’ was not a female. She raised the alarm which attracted passers-by. They discovered she was not a female and descended on him before he was handed over to the police.
Joshua Francis, an indigene of Badagry, Lagos State working with a foreign company, marketing products with natural supplements at Ikire, Osun State, confirmed what he was accused of. According to him, “it is true I disguised as a lady but it was just to get a free ride."
Explaining what led to his action, the teenager said: “We went for a marketing programme at Kishi, Oyo State. I was paired with a male colleague. After the programme, we boarded the bus on the way home but I took an excuse to urinate. Before my return, the vehicle had gone. Confused and afraid on how I would get back to Ikire, I started waving vehicles down, but they refused to help me. I went to a motor park nearby and asked for their help but they said they could not help because there was fuel scarcity.
“When I saw that there was no help coming my way in Kishi, I remembered that I had a few female clothes belonging to one of the girls working with the same company, so I turned aside and wore them because I believed that people would help a female quicker than they would assist a male. From there, it was easy for me to get a ride to Ibadan.
"A woman stopped to give me a ride at Iwo Road, Ibadan, to Ikire but as I entered, she noticed my legs and asked if I was a female. I told her I was a female. She asked me to show her my pierced ears; it was then I confessed that I was a male.
“As soon as the woman knew that I was a male, she raised the alarm and said I wanted to attack her on the way and steal her car. I tried to explain to her but she did not listen. She shouted at me to get out of her car. A crowd formed around us and as she explained what happened to them, the people started beating me. Before I knew it, they placed a tyre round my neck to set me ablaze but an elderly man invited the police and I was handed over to them.”
Confirming the story, the police image maker in Oyo State, Adekunle Ajisebutu, said that the teenager had been released on bail since he was found not to have intended to commit crime. He warned youths against acts that could portray them as criminals while he urged members of the public to be vigilant so that they would not fall victims of those who might want to employ the same method to perpetrate crime.