It was a sizzling hot Sunday afternoon and I was on my way to Nnewi for an essential corporal work of mercy which had been delayed for sometime for want of time.
Say what you may about his diarrhoea of the mouth lately, one thing you cannot take away from him is that Soludo is meeting the challenge of Anambra’s dilapidated road networks head on and chalking up impressive returns in really quick time. I was pleasantly surprised that the roads were reasonably smooth and driving was rather fun instead of the stress it used to be under Obiano.
I got to the Neni/Nimo junction through Amawbia and Agulu and the other towns along the way in no time. A black Lexus SUV with really dark glasses appeared to be barging unto the highway from the Nimo axis rather dangerously. Another black Lexus SUV stood behind it. I tooted my horn to alert whoever was behind the wheels that I was already passing by his front so as to avoid an unnecessary collision. Shockingly, in spite of these efforts, a collision did occur. At the rear end of my car. As I slowed down to navigate a rather heavy pothole in front of me I heard that dull sound of an automobile scraping against another that is all too familiar when two stubborn drivers refuse to give way to one another in a traffic jam.
As I looked around to catch the supportive eyes of witnesses who obviously saw what had happened I saw the strangest thing; rather than surge forward as crowds are wont to in the face of an accident, the crowd was melting away instead. Before I could process what was happening a young man with a grey flowered shirt had materialised from God knows where with an AK 47, ordering me down. The next I knew, he was cocking and shooting, standing just about two feet from me. Mercifully he had aimed just over my head. I needed no soothsayer at that time to tell me that I was in a great deal of trouble.
One of the cars had pulled slightly adjacent to me, with the other blocking my rear. Their windows as black as night.
I have been in all kinds of scrapes in my life, but this was something altogether different. I don’t think anything prepares anyone for this kind of situation.
Were they hired killers? Were they kidnappers?
I did not know. What was clear to me was that I was in their complete mercy. Totally helpless.
Somehow I found my voice and just kept repeating these two phrases in this unusually mellow tone I could hardly recognise as mine: “I have not offended you in any way”; “I have not offended you people in any way.”
At this point two other young men with face masks, wearing what looked like a black uniform and equally armed with AK 47s jumped down from the second SUV and joined us. They looked me over closely and said “Oga sorry, please enter your car and go.”
I entered my car as quickly as I could. The engine was still running. So quickly had things happened that I didn’t even remember to turn off the ignition when I exited the car in the face of a blazing gun.
I drove off, still Nnewi bound, still trying to figure out what had happened.
My attackers turned benefactors took the Adazi Enu route in their two brand new black Lexus SUVS. My nerves were surprisingly still steady.
After a while I saw them behind me again. Was I stretching my luck too far? Would I be twice lucky? Should I not have headed back home to Awka?
I tried to increase my speed so as to try and shake them off. Then I remembered that my older jalopy would be no match for their newer ones in a speed contest. I took the very first right turn that offered itself, wherever it went. If they came after me this time, then that was it. At least I had tried my best to stay alive in the new year.
I saw them zoom past from my rear view mirror. I waited a while, then made a u-turn and continued on my way to Nnewi to console the wife of my friend’s brother who lost her husband some weeks ago.
I am home, safe and sound; still trying to figure out what just happened. But whatever may be the case, it’s obvious to me that I entered the jaws of the lion today and came out to tell the story. Anything could have happened.
“If Yahweh had not been on our side — let Israel repeat it-if Yahweh had not been on our side when people attacked us.”
Kindly spare a prayer for victims of kidnappers across Nigeria and victims of the unknown gun men in the South East.
Even these afflictions shall come to pass, if we vote wisely and take back our country.
(C) Uba Anene.