The Oasis Reporters
May 20, 2018
By Muta (not real name but true life story)
I decided to tell my story to enable people learn from it. Experience they say is the best teacher. However it is better to learn from other people’s experiences. A lot of people did not live to tell about their own experiences. It is actually a lengthy piece, so I made it into parts. This is the first part.
For you to appreciate freedom you may have to experience confinement first. Wednesday, April 11, 2018 started a three day lesson in my life I will never forget.
I had travelled to Delta State to attend the interment of an aunt and mother of a close friend.
I was on my way back to Kaduna that Wednesday. It was a smooth journey, at least the roads were not as bad as they used to be. So I was actually in no rush. In fact the road was free.
As I left GEGU in Kogi State, my friend, Edafe called me. I couldn’t reach him earlier him to tell him I was leaving town. We spoke for less than 2mins. I had to cut the call to concentrate on my driving. Not long after I focused on the two cars ahead of me. A Camry and another vehicle I can’t really recall the brand or make. We were approaching the crest of a hilly part of the road. My intention was to get close to them as we descend the hill and overtake them before we get to the next crest.
Just at the crest of the hill I noticed four figures, two on each side of the road in full military camouflage. I was not perturbed because we had passed a few checkpoints. At this point we had formed a convoy of four cars. The first car, followed by the camry, then my car and a GUO bus behind me. But just as I made to accelerate and get ahead of the two cars in front of me, I heard rapid gunshots.
It dawned on me these guys are not soldiers but pretenders or impostors, you choose what you want to call them. I watched in awe as these impostors directed their guns at the first car in the convoy and opened fire on the car. Everything happened so fast there was actually no time to even think. I saw the first car go past them under a hail of bullets. The brake lights of the Camry came up and almost immediately the reverse light followed.
Because I was already gathering speed to overtake these two, it was difficult for me to immediately bring my car to a halt. In that split second I had to come to a quick decision.
Do I do a James Bond and drive through the hail of bullets like the first car, or should I direct my car at them and run them over. The later was quickly discarded because I was outnumbered and that will spell my doom.
I decided that whatever happens, I won’t go beyond the Camry in front of me. I stepped on the brakes gingerly at first. The motion of the car told me if I wanted to stop behind the Camry I would have to do better than that. I hit the brakes again, this time with all my might. The car swerved, and in that short moment it was a battle to steady the car.
I had lost total control of the car and as I struggling to bring the car to a halt I was lost in the high pitch screeching symphony of my car tyres. The car did a 360 degrees and I ended up in a ditch with the left side up.
Immediately the car came to a halt, adrenaline set in and survival became the focus. I removed my seat belt at the same time opened my door. As I came out of the car, the sound of gunshots still rented the air. I knew whatever I did I must run away from the sound of the gun shots.
I quickly maneuvered my way around the car and over the median divider. Remember I was in a valley and had to run uphill to avoid the assailants behind me. I was a sprinter in my secondary school days. In fact I anchored the second leg for the relay team of my school. You can’t beat the adrenaline and excitement that comes with collecting the baton from the starter.
This case was a different one o. Back then in school, the price was to come first and retain the bragging rights over your competitors, but on that lonely Chikara Abaji express way with dust in the air, sweat streaming down my face and bullets flying, survival instinct kicked in and I knew if I must remain alive I had to muster all the speed I have in me.
I had not run up to about 10 meters when I saw a dark lanky looking figure in military fatigue appear from somewhere in the bush with his AK 47 trained directly at me. I came to an abrupt halt. I looked straight into his eyes. They were expressionless. I knew then and there it will be foolhardy to try any form of heroics. Still panting from my about 10 meters dash I scanned around to see if there was still any escape route, his gunfire brought me back to reality and it dawned on me then that my freedom had been compromised. I went down flat on all fours.
Without speaking a word and with the gesture of his hands he urged me to get up and herded me back towards the Camry where, his colleagues had detained some other commuters. I expected him to take me to my car and search it for valuables, but as we went past my car to join the larger group, it occurred to me that this was not a robbery. Even before we got close to the other group, I could see the attackers directing them towards the bush, off the road.
Shouts of ‘’bush bush bush’’ rented the air as they nudged us with their guns.
As we moved off the road into the bush we met a steep entrance, as if we were jumping into a valley. There were more of the assailants at the base of the valley waiting for us. It was a dangerous drop and because they were in a hurry to get us off the road, some of us were pushed into the gouge and tumbled down to the base.
Quickly we were all pointed to one direction and urged to follow two menacing looking young men bearing AK47. We trekked rapidly, almost jugging for the next 30 minutes. By this time I was almost dying of exhaustion. Suddenly we were ordered to stop and rest.
I collapsed like a sack of rice on the floor, took three deep breaths and settled down to assess the situation.