Exactly 21 days of being held hostage,
We overheard our abductors speaking in hausa “an kamala tattaunawar” “an biya fansa”
Meaning the negotiation has been concluded, and the ransom has been paid.
Although we haven’t been released, and stood completely oblivious of the one to whom those allusions were made, but this news does indeed strike in all 11 of us in captivity, sentiments of happiness and sighs of hope
Yet, I heard one of them saying something about sending a message- “amma har yanzu muna bukatar aika sako”
But I couldn’t really make anything out of it until now, when I watch life fade out of my brother, friend and colleague Mike, who was bleeding profusely and gasping for breath.
A bullet had hit him on the neck.
I held him tight in my arms and put a pressure on his neck to stop the bleeding
Grasped with fear untold, I called out…
Mike! Mikky! Stay with me, we are almost out of this bush
While gradually fading out, he stretched out his hand to wipe my tears,
In whispers I heard him mutter
“Pray for me”
I cried even more, and screamed for help,
Hum… but just in a jiffy, I suddenly became conscious of Mike’s increasingly plummeting temperature
Others; Pius, Peter and Stephen came back running
Only to find him dead in my arms…
Remembering our shared hope of return to freedom, tears rolled down my cheek effortlessly
Lost in thought, I took the wing of reminiscence
Recalling moments shared prior to our kidnap…
it was around 10:27pm on Wednesday, January 8, just few minutes before light out
I had gone to Mikky’s room to get the provision he promised to buy for me from outing
I met Stephen and Mikky’s roommate Pius, soaking garri
Mikky was also in the room, so I joined in the feast, even though it wasn’t a free night
Then we heard a loud thud, it was the fence
But before we could phantom all that was happening, we heard gunshots simultaneously with the words, Ja su waje! Ja su waje!! Drag them out!!!
Our first line of action was to lay down flat, as the gunshot continued
We heard other been dragged out of their room, but we couldn’t hide
Our door gave way on a single heavy kick
Two men, in military uniform entered
Heavily armed, with bullets across their shoulders
Stephen was the first to jump up from where we laid, he was slapped back to the laying position,
Then we were dragged out into the quadrangle of the hostel
We were the last to be dragged out
To join the line of other seminarians already on a straight line in the quadrangle
We were asked to submit our laptops and belongings, which we did.
They packed it into their van and as they were about leaving they dragged us into their van,
last four persons on the line which happens to be Me, Pius, Michael and Stephen and then they took Peter too.
We were blind folded, chained and thrown into the van,
The van was on speed for about an hour before there was a turn
Into a rather not too smooth road and the drive went on for about another 2 hours…
All I knew was that by the time they removed the blindfold we were already in a forest camp
We were striped of our clothing and thrown into a cell, to join 7 others who were abducted at different times
In the cell, there we met a Pastor; Lawan Andami who we later found out to be the CAN chairman of Michika, A Doctor’s wife; Mrs Philip Ataga, An elderly Muslim couple; Alhaji and Hajia Bisiriyu with their first son Usman, who were alleged to have masterminded the escape of Christians in the past, and others
persons whose name I would rather not mention.
Hours rolled into days
Days into weeks,
We were fed once in 2 days.
We kept on praying together with the pastor, who unwaveringly encouraging us not to lose hope in God.
Then a day came they, that was like a week after we arrived
They came to call the pastor, he followed them without hesitation,
We never thought we would see him again, but to our surprise he came back, and when we asked him, he said they ask him to make a video telling people he is fine, and encourage his people to pay his ransom.
After some days, they came again and took Usman, the son of the Bisiriyu,
we were wondering what they wanted with him, but still he followed.
Moments later, we heard gunshots at some distance and we conjectured that he had been killed
The Bisiriyu’s cried uncontrollably for days
We mourned with them and prayed for his happy repose,
Why they killed him was unknown to us all
Then two days later, just before evening fall,
There was noise and rage in the camp, we don’t know why,
But we heard the leader of the group shouting
“ Ja su waje! Jaa su waje! Alsaabiuwn…. Kafirai
Drag them out… Infidels.
We were dragged out of the cells, lined on a queue.
Then they forcefully dragged Lawan, the CAN chairman out of the line,
They accused his people of not paying up to the amount requested and with that they felt much slighted.
And so he was going to die
He beg for his life, but they refused,
They dragged him out,
forced his neck on stake they have prepared
Then the Dagger-like cutlass was revealed
and so it was, with two strikes, his head rolled off,
blood gushed out profusely, the sight was horrible.
when we tried to look away, they slapped us to look at the horrific sight
according to one of them, we were to witness it so as to serve as a motivation for us to ask our people to pay the ransom.
Caught up in immense sorrow and in pain, we were led back to the cell
again, we prayed for the repose of his soul
while we await similar fate to befall us,
on the morning of the 21st day
we overheard them saying the negotiation had been
concluded and the ransom had been paid.
Then I also heard one of them saying something about sending a message, well I didn’t pay attention to it as we were a midst the joy of been released.
Moment later, they threw the gate of the cell opened; four of us and Mrs Ataga, the doctor’s wife were let loose.
Then they ask to run for our lives
Initially we hesitated, then they fired some shots at a close range to our feet, then we started running through the direction we thought was the way out of the forest.
We had only run a few distance when we heard gunshots from behind, they were coming after us
We increased our pace and took to our heels, scattered in the forest,
Mike took the same direction with me,
The shots continued
They sprayed sporadically…
Then I heard one last single shot,
The very one that hit Mike,
I turned back to look, Mike was already on the floor
I rushed back to help him, but he was already gasping.
I looked back to see where the shot had come from
Then I saw him, few meter away, smiling…
Then he said “kai wannan gida … wannan shine sakon”
Take that home… that is the message.
©The Confessions of a Seminarian
Written in Honour of Michael Nnadi, Seminarian of the Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna
And all those who have lost their lives in the hands of kidnappers and terrorists.
Eternal Rest grant unto them oh Lord… and let your perpetual light shine upon them
May the soul of Micheal Nnadi, Lawan Andami, Philip Ataga, and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen