By John Baaki
I have been reading about it in newspapers, listening over the radio and watching on television, but I never knew I would experience it live and close anyday.
When in the morning I was discussing with my colleagues how our planned engagement with some members of a State House of Assembly scheduled to hold in Kaduna would go, little did we know what laid ahead of us.
Few minutes after 2pm we left Abuja for Kaduna and all was well until we had gone past Jere. Then we saw them. The bandits!
Our vehicle was the third vehicle from the one the bandits, wielding guns flagged down. We sensed danger. We reversed. But we were not luck to escape as some of the gun-wielding bandits were behind us. Next option was to run into the bush.
We jumped out of the vehicle and into the bush we went, myself, Isah Lukman and Evelyn Terundu Ugbe. Until now I didn’t know I have the gift of Usein Bolt. The sporadic gunshots kept us running farther from the bandits. Each step we took the gunshots sounded closer. As we moved farther into the bush we missed each other and joined other people on the run. I didn’t know that my colleague Evelyn had not ran far from the bandits before she slipped and fell and remained there. Over an hour we continued running to no specific destination.
Then in the middle of the bush I saw a man and a small boy of about 14 years by my estimation advancing. Hope they are not part of the gang, I thought as my heart jumped from its cavity.
It was a local farmer who heard the gunshots and was also fleeing. “I saw one man carrying gun and following the other side,” he said pointing to the direction he was coming from when we narrated to him how we were attacked by the bandits. He asked us to follow him to a safer place as he said “them dey pursue people come inside and na that side them dey follow.” “If they don’t attack here, they attack near the railway at the bridge, but they will not come this side we are going.”
This man’s discussion with us revealed that the attacks from the bandits is no longer new to the locals but has become a routine that they are well familiar with.
As we stopped running and moved along with the man, I discovered I had lost my sandals in the bush and started feeling pains from the wounds and bruises on my body from the many falls I had while running. But the gunshots had not silenced and I wondered the number of bandits the chorusing gunshots were coming out from and the quantity of bullets they would have in stock.
Long story short, police and army came and chased the bandits away after over an hour shooting. We heard the bandits killed a police man but whether they kidnapped some people I don’t know but I suspect they did.
We found our vehicle and the luggage intact and continued to Kaduna. Myself and my colleagues are also safe.
We cannot thank God enough for sparing our lives.
Anne Barre when I told you I was traveling to Northern Nigeria and so could not join our call, this is how it went.
Written from Kaduna, Nigeria.