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I came alive with this throbbing piercing pain on my shoulders, I cried out and opened my eyes, every where was blurry at first then I could see light. I sneezed severally before I noticed the person standing by my bed. Even sneezing was a painful activity.
Sorry, relax! Relax! He said as he touched my body and checked my vital signs, he opened my eye lids and pointed some luminous instrument into my eyes, and he felt for my pulse as some other person joined him.
Is he back?
Yes! He pulled through!
Wow! Thank God o! After five months in coma!
God still has a use of him
God or Satan?
Well, it is God that gives life!
Let’s hope he will change for good
We dont know him yet!
What else do you need to know other than he must be an escaped criminal? A fugitive! Let us call the Police now that he is conscious!
The Police? Have you forgotten this is a naval base?
Ehen? Is it not the polices job to handle such matters?
Then it is not your responsibility to call the police! The Commandant is interested in this matter! The United nation’s attaché that brought him here is interested in him also so please hold your peace!
No please! No police! I interrupted their discussion: the Police will kill me!
Why? One of them asked
They did this to me! I said
What? The Police did this to you?
Yes! I managed to say before I fell into another long sleep.
I spent a total of six months at Owerrinta naval training school hospital. The Naval patrol had picked my body up from the popular Boro Pit along Aba-Port Harcourt express road. Some scavengers picking items for recycling from the refuse dump had seen that I was still breathing, and then they alerted the patrol that happened to drive by at that time. It was about 3.AM. The Navy had put me in their Van and taken me to the emergency ward of their hospital. They said I was naked and battered like a thief who escaped being mauled by a group of community youths. There was bullet wound on my stomach.
The police that arrested me had driven my body all the way from Owerri to Aba and dumped into the Boro pit to rot,
I told the commandant of the Base the story of my life, from my birth to my death, and then he told me my story from my death to my resurrection.
He said I was taken to the ICU immediately they brought me to the hospital that morning around 3.40AM. My intestine was popping out from my stomach and I was a complete mess. No normal hospital would have accepted to treat me but for a military facility or a teaching hospital. They had cleaned and patched me up. My joints were broken and my shoulders pulled from the sockets with torn ligaments, my penis was like a ball of grape, it was swollen and scorched, my buttocks and thighs were swollen with deep razor blade cuts and scorched with electric iron. My back and stomach were not spared of the same treatment I was better left for dead! There were sores all over my body and they cleaned me up every day, I was put on oxygen life support when I developed a fever and I became very ill while I was still unconscious in the bed.
Commodore Aboderin told me that I was actually saved by a UN attaché who was working with the Patrol team that night. The attaché was in Nigeria, Aba to be precise to monitor the activities of the Bakassi boys at curbing crime in the state of Abia. It was the foreigner that insisted that I was brought to the naval hospital for treatment even though the naval officers in the Van had told her that I was a criminal caught and tried by the Bakassi boys. She had told them that my case is not similar to the way Bakassi Boys treat thieves. The Bakassi boys would tie up the thief, cut him or her into pieces and then burn off the body.
She said I was a victim of jungle justice.
The commandant said I was very fortunate because many people have died innocently in the hands of the Nigerian Police.
I poured out my concerns to the commandant; what would have happened to me if the Scavengers had not discovered my body that morning? What if it had rained heavily that night while I was lying in refuse dump dying? What if the pigs and dogs that roam at the refuse dump had gotten there before the scavengers? With my intestines popping out of my stomach? What if the Vultures had gotten to my body first? It was even possible for head hunters for ritual purposes or any of their suppliers to have gotten to the dump that morning and found my body. It was by the mercies of God that I had come out of the police brutality alive.
I could not really place how everything happened because it happened so fast simultaneously. I was not given a chance to defend my self; the police station was a torture zone for the fact that they have such a room at the station that was sound proof. The Police Officers had tortured to kill me and they eventually shot me in the stomach and disposed my body. In my presence I saw the dangling body of another of their victim that was tortured to death. They would also dispose such body! Does it mean no one ask them questions? My case was peculiar because no one would have asked for me. Mr. Adegoke would be waiting forever to hear from me and if he does not hear from me after several years, he would assume I have abandoned him to be on my own. My Yemisi would assume that is the way of men and their sweet talk. I would simply have disappeared just as many others must have been made to disappear by the police. This is jungle justice
It was the third quarter of 1997; I was twenty eight years old and my mates were already into the NYSC programme. This was not the situation I had expected to find myself in life. I know my call up letter must have gone back to Abuja, my friends and well wishers would have expected to know where I was posted to for the service year. My so called friends at the hotel had betrayed me; I was not given a fair hearing as their minds had been poisoned against me even before I returned from home. Oga Dan had gone to call the Police when he excused himself for five minutes during our discussion in his office, Oga Dan could have told me that I was wanted by the police so that I could run away or find a way to go and explain myself at the station, I would have called Mr. Goke via the NITEL pay phone centre springing up in the country and explain the situation of things to him. He would have advised me or come down to follow me to the station. I just kept ranting and repeating myself until the commander asked me a simple question.
Would you like to join the military? He asked.
I was surprise because I was not talking in that direction, I was tongue tied at first.
Would you? He asked again
Sir! I am a graduate of Electrical and electronics engineering. I would love to practice my profession sir! I have never in my life thought of the military as a career!
I am also a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Ife and I am practicing my profession in the Navy! In fact, there is no better place to practice your profession than the military. Be you a Doctor, a Lawyer, a musician, a tailor or brick layer, there is a place for every one in the military. We do our things our selves here by using our professionals.
Sir! I heard it is a very tough and rigorous process to join the military. I asked.
You have been through tougher experience lately! Look! I like you and would love to help you; the present GOC of the 82nd Division is a very good friend and colleague of mine, he has given me one slot to present a candidate on his behalf at the next Officer Cadet short service commission next month
Ha! Sir, I am yet to go for my youth service! Wont the certificate be necessary? I asked
By then you will be serving as a Soldier and you will apply for exception from the NYSC, he said.
Ha Sir! I dont know how to thank you o!
I got up and prostrated before him; God will bless you sir! May your children meet with divine favour where ever they may be sir!
Amen! Stand up please! He said.
I dont know what next to do sir, but one thing for certain is that I need to go to the hotel and retrieve my belongings then I need to go to school for my clearance and my result. I will also need to rent a temporal apartment as I sort my self together! I need some time to think over my new life! The twist in my life is so sudden that I still feel like I am in a dream world.
No problem Bolaji, take everything step by step, you can use a room at my BQ while you tie up the loose ends in your life. I have no doubt about your integrity because from all the information our intelligence unit gathered about you, you have been set up!
Oh you investigated me? I asked
We are not stupid! We are the navy! He said
Wow! Did you find out about the girls in my life? I asked shyly.
Chioma, Katherine and Theresa? Even the Amara that is dying for you! he said
Ha! Jesu Christi o! You people have exposed me o!
We think Chioma set you up! Her boy friend or do I say former boy friend was killed along with your friend DJ Slam. It is complicated sha! But we are still working on certain links and the less you know the better. I am offering to help you as an act of service to God and man! If a foreigner could help to save your life as a black man, then I should do more for you as a black brother and fellow Yoruba.
I will assign one of my boys to follow you to the hospital for check up, then he will drive you to Owerri, he will be with you until you go to NDA next month.
I prostrated again: ese pupo sir! Thank you so much sir!
The hotel was quiet when we got there at 10 AM, I had been wearing the same clothes for over a week, and I dont even know who bought the dress for me. I needed access to my clothes. The Orderly assigned to me parked the Toyota Avensis 2.2 at the parking lot and together we went upstairs to Oga Dans office. The Orderly kicked the door with his boot as I was about knocking and the door flung inwards startling Oga Dan and the lady sitting on his laps with her breast over his face. It was Chioma sitting on Oga Dans laps with her blouse unbuttoned. She jumped out of her skin as she saw me.
Ghost o! Ghost o! You are dead! You are dead! She screamed pointing at me and cowering beside the refrigerator in the office
How can? Oga Dan asked; but you were dead! I saw the picture of your battered corpse!
Is that why you are putting on my clothes? I asked; you are wearing a dead mans clothes!
He hurriedly pulled off everything he wore save for his boxers.
Please take your clothes if it is what you have come for! I have no hand in your death! He said throwing my clothes towards me.
Put my clothes in my bag and give me the keys to where ever you kept my belongings, I have come to pack my things!
Em em, your things are no longer in the hotel! We shared everything amongst our selves when the police said you were dead!
What? The Orderly shouted; you mean that you people shared his property without his familys consent? Is that what he wrote in his will?
No sir! Oga Dan said; but please is this man dead or not?
I am not dead Oga Dan! Your plans failed! God came to my rescue for I am more than a conqueror! I dont even believe I could use that biblical phrase, though it suited the situation at hand.
It was at this point that Chioma came under the attack of epileptic seizure; she started to shake and contort as she fell to the ground.
Help me! Help me help her! Oga Dan shouted
Leave her! I said; just get a metal spoon and put between her teeth then hold her in position until she calms down.
Is that all? Will that do? Oga Dan asked nervously as he got a spoon from inside the refrigerator and forced it between Chiomas gnashing teeth. He held onto her as she convulsed for fifteen minutes before she was relieved.
By this time, some of the staff of the hotel had come into the office. Oga Dan was half naked wearing only his boxers while Chioma was in his arms with her blouse opened exposing her breast. I looked up at the cabinet in Oga Dans office and saw my travelling bag there, the one I returned from home with on the day of my arrest. I brought it down, my documents were intact.
Chioma got hold of herself and started to dress up shamefully.
Oga Dan and Chioma! I called. How on earth did the two of you start to date each other? My two good friends! I cant understand! I asked.
It is Chioma o! BJ believe me it was Chioma that told me that you were a cultist and was involved in the death of DJ Slam, she also testified to the Police that you were on the run, even when you died, it was Chioma that that told me that you have no relations that would come for your property, that was why I shared it; Oga Dan confessed.
Chioma! Is it true? I asked; am I a cultist? Did Slam himself not tell you that I was a Jew man? What did I do to you to set me up even unto my death? And now you are sleeping with my boss? Chioma!
You were sleeping with my friends! She snapped
Oh! Is that it? The truth is that all of you are the same! You and your friends are a rotten lot! Your friends came after me when you left me because I refused to buy the Car for you! I begged you severally to no avail so you have no right to be jealous that I was sleeping with your friends! So is that why you set me up? To the extent that I was killed by the police and it does not bother you? Let me show you something.
I unbuttoned my shirt and pulled off my singlet, everyone in the office screamed.
I pulled off my shoes and pulled down my trousers then I pulled my boxers up to reveal the scars on my thighs.
This is what the police did to me! I turned round for every one to see. Someone pushed her way to the front of the small crowd in the office, it was Amara. She screamed when she saw me, she closed her mouth with her hands when she saw my battered body and she sank to the floor.
I continued; I was arrested for no just cause! I was cuffed and hung from the ceiling naked. I was flogged continuously for one hour! I was burnt all over with pressing iron! My ankles and my knees were dislocated with a hammer! I was slashed with razor blades and the wounds stashed with red hot paper for no just cause! They used pliers to break the small bones on my feet. I cried, I screamed! I begged but no help came! My shoulder was pulled from my body! Then I was shot in the stomach! My intestines came out! Then I was carried all the way to Boro pit in Aba to die!
Who did this to you! Who did this to you BJ? Amara rose and came over to me crying! They said you were dead! They said you were a cultist! They said you killed Slam but I did not believe them! I did not know where to find you but I did not believe them! Then I heard you were arrested and have been killed too! I was confused! Oh my God so you are alive! Who did you offend? She wailed.
You brother and his girl friend set me up Amara!
What? She was shocked; my brother? And his girl friend? Which of his girl friends? She asked
Look at them standing together! I said;
What? This girl? Your former girl friend?
Yes! I said
How? Brother why? Amara asked
It is the girl that deceived me Amara! She had hidden agenda and scores to settle with BJ so she used me!
And at your age you allowed this common prostitute to use you? I have not liked this girl from day one! I knew she was dangerous but I could not tell you BJ, I told Slam but I could not tell you! She said.
DJ Slam told me! In fact he told me everything you wanted to tell me but I was a fool not to be able to read between the lines.
Ha! Human beings are wicked o! Amara faced her brother and Chioma; look at somebodys child! Look! Look! What you people did to him! Look at scars on a human beings body? Can these scars ever wipe off for life? Look at the bullet wound on his stomach! And you people have the temerity to sleep with each other after killing him? God! Human beings! And brother why are you naked? What is wrong with you?
He was wearing my clothes! I said; everything he wore was mine except for the boxers. He thought I was a ghost when I entered his office so he pulled off my clothes as if it was what I had come back for!
Nonsense! Amara said as she packed the clothes her brother pulled and put them back in my bag; put on your clothes BJ and let’s get out of here! God will judge these people! Lets leave them for God!
Leave who for God? The Orderly who has been quiet all the while shouted. Oya two of you, forward March to the base! When we reach base, then una go sabi the difference between the Police and the navy!
…to be continued