I posted this sometime back, and I’m posting it again.
I served in 2009 at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. My place of primary assignment was Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBS), the state’s radio house. I stayed close to the corper’s lodge which was located in a very dry and dusty area at the outskirt of the city (Nkaliki). I worked as a radio presenter, duty continuity announcer and news caster. It was a shift work, however, I never liked afternoon shifts because it was usually longer than the other shifts.
Now I will go straight to the incident that happened.
Around November that year, there was constant news of kidnapping for rituals or ransom in the state. People were scared. They tried to be careful because no one wanted to be a victim. I didn’t give the news so much thought because I believed no one could kidnap me and beside, I never joked with my prayers.
So on that particular day, I was on afternoon shift. I started by 11:00 in the morning and rounded up at 6:30 pm after reading the evening news. I updated the log book about my presentation for the afternoon and said bye to the people taking over the air waves for the night.
The walk from the radio house to my place was about 20 minutes (Not too much). That evening, I walked down the busy road but stopped at a shop briefly to buy something for dinner and the next morning’s breakfast. The shop owner quickly attended to me and soon I was on my way.
Usually I walk fast but on that day, the weather was just too good to ignore, after a very hot day. The soft evening breeze romanced my skin and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Instead of walking fast, I took gentle steps just so I could enjoy the breeze a little longer.
However, the clouds in the sky made it known to everyone that rain fall at night was going to be inevitable. I was already excited because I love it when rain falls at night. I get the best of dreams then.
The time was already about 7:00pm when I got to the corper’s lodge. I wanted to say hi to some friends there but I decided to move on. I’m actually not a night person and time was already far spent so, I walked passed it as well as the local government council which stood side by side with the corper’s lodge. Soon I was close to my home, but then, something happened.
The road ahead after the corper’s lodge and local government council is usually dark and quiet. This is because there were no houses by the side and therefore, no light to illumine the surrounding. The only house in front, some distance away from where I was, was one that belonged to a military man. Now by the side of the military house, there is a small street with only one house in it. That house was where I rented a room, so that was my home for the period I was in the state.
Now back to the story. I was still taking gentle steps along the road and enjoying the night breeze when I suddenly noticed a car coming up from behind me with speed. The light from the car’s head lamp illumined the dark road so much so that I could see some insects playing on the grasses by the side. I turned back to look at the car as I wondered who the driver was and what was wrong with him. Why the speed?
“Is he drunk?”I asked myself.
I didn’t have time to think much because then, I noticed that the car was slowing down. I am usually carefull when it comes to crossing the front of a vehicle, especially one where you have no idea what state of mind the driver is. As the car slowed down and came to park by my side, I heard a few male voices from inside it saying words like
“Hello baby, where you dey go?”
It was dark inside the car so I didn’t really see the faces of the people in it. Since I no get time for agbero and drunkards, I simply turned around, passed the back of the car and crossed the road to the other side where the military house was. Unfortunately, the outside light was not switched on and so the place was still very dark. While crossing, I turned and saw the car door open. The light inside it came on and revealed a car filled with guys. There was no space inside that car for another soul. So what if I had decided to go with them willingly, where were they planning to put me?
That aside. While the car door was still open, two guys emerged from it and started coming after me, they even crossed the road too. I frowned at what they were doing but then, my attention was drawn back to the car. I noticed that the driver drove slowly along the other side of the road, following me and his guys that were after me. Another thing that baffled me was that the other guys who remained inside the car watched the scene before them with keen interest. It was then, my instincts kicked in.
“These guys are no drunkards, neither are they out looking for prostitutes to spend the night with. There is something more they want.”
Hmmmm… omo! Come and see quick walking. I started walking very fast. There was no time to enjoy the fresh breeze again. As I fastened my steps, the guys following me did same. For some reason, I knew that if I run, they would do same and definitely, they would catch me. I could feel my heart pounding against my chest seriously. Aside from that, I started feeling heat in the midst of all that cool breeze. Lucky for me, home was around the corner but they didn’t know. I quickly entered my street and continued with my pace. Another lucky thing was that there was nepa light and the house is not far from the junction. The outside light was on and it’s rays embraced me with open arms.
The distance from the junction to the house is nothing less than 1 minute’s walk. My neighbours were outside chatting and they spotted me. They then acknowledged me with raised voices from where they sat.
“Corper, na now you dey come?”
Although they saw me, they didn’t notice the boys following me. On the other hand, the car driver, merely seeing the neighbours and somehow knowing that I was in my territory, started to yell at the two guys to fall back and let me be. He drove the car past the junction and continued to call the boys back.
“I go leave una o! Forget this one na, make she go. We fit see for front.”
At first I thought the guys would be stubborn and still rush forward to grab me but thank God, the idiots decided to obey their oga. They went back.
If you ask me, I believe those guys were up to something. They wanted to carry me but their car had no space. That means my place would have been in their booth.
Where would they take me? Maybe to their hide out. Then they may decide to spend the rest of the night gang raping or killing me?
Now let me explain something. Only a few of the indigenes residing in that area liked corpers. The rest made it very clear that they didn’t want us. I don’t know if that’s still the case. Apart from that, this incident happened close to the festive period, a time when everyone needed money for celebration. Some indigenes confirmed that kidnapping was always rampant in the state during christmas periods. I don’t know if things are still the same now.
When I got home that night I thanked God for his protection even as the whole scene kept replaying in my head. What if the boys didn’t turn back? What if they ignored their driver and still grabbed me? What if I was still far from home and they caught up with me? I was still close to the junction when the guys went back to their car and zoomed off. If they had not gone, anything could have happened.
My point here is this. In as much as we are serving our country, we must be careful. Our safety should be number one because the truth is that the people you are serving will not protect you, especially as a corper. Some may try to protect you but that’s all it would be, try.
I remember reporting the incident at work the following day because I wanted to see if it was possible to get someone among the night shift workers to read the evening news at 6:00 PM since they would be spending the night anyway. I didn’t want to go home too late anymore. To my disappointment, the only thing my head of department said was:
“Relax, nothing can happen to you.”
He said that and threw the issue out the window. No measures put in place, no nothing.
Do you see what I’m saw?
Please share with us your own experience.