6 Days And A Night In The Hand Of Kidnappers: My Encounter I — Buhari A. Sa'ee

(It was Thursday 4th, April 2019 @6:50pm)

I think taking us back to how the journey began isn't that necessary but the narration of my encounter with the kidnappers which took place at around 6:50pm of Thursday 4th April, 2019. Your guess is as good as mine being someone who has never experienced it. Yes, it was highly chaotic and the aftermath is psychologically traumatic.

We took our bus from Dikko Junction, Niger State. It was a 10 seater Bus and were heading back to Zaria. At around 6:40pm we made it to Olam Feed and Hatchery Mill, Kaduna and were moving close to NYSC camp then suddenly the driver sensed the presence of some personnel, well-dressed in their Military Camouflage. There were certain things which one could doubt the legality of those pretending to be of the Military Family. There was nothing like patrol vehicle. They were wearing Military Camouflage but were at the same time wearing different boots. Yes, different boots. And perhaps the driver being too familiar plying the route has many other reasons.

Just a few miles away from them, the driver whispered: I think these are kidnappers! Not all could hear him except few. I was sitting at the last back seat. Sitting with other three. I was squeezed. I had to remove my loafers, my cap and bend down my head to feel little more conformable. So I knew nothing that was happening. The driver couldn't press the break until in their midst. Don't ask me why because I don't know too.

At that very moment and spot, they started shooting albeit sporadically at initial and that's when the driver pressed the break, open his door and ran out. That's the same moment when some other passengers ran too. That's the very moment I knew what was happening. Before I realized, there was no driver and some other passengers. The car was moving very fast without a driver; from one side of the road to the other. We couldn't open our side door although were only trying to stop the car to avoid accident. We did it. The car stopped when the break was pressed by the only passenger left in the front seat.

They dragged us out, asked us to drop all the what we had, money, our phones and further asked us to lay down on the ground. I thought that's all they'd wanted. I thought after taking all our belongings that would be all. At that moment, we noticed either Police or Soldiers shooting and they were exchanging fire with the kidnappers and I thought the best thing was to continue laying on the ground to avoid being shot. The kidnappers were many, so part of them led us into the forest while the other part were left there fighting and exchanging fire.

We were five. One from the front seat, one from the middle and three of us from the last back seat. Few walks into the forest, part of the captives, two Fulani boys who looked like twins; wore the same type of cloths and were heading to Kano for Maulud couldn't be located anymore. The kidnappers couldn't find them. We really don't know where they'd been. So the kidnappers couldn't wait any longer and had to take us to their camp. We hurriedly walked for many Kilometers by foot which on our way I had a deep cut on my foot because I wasn't wearing any shoe and it was dark and horrifying. When they were sure that no one could even attempt to run because we were all exhausted, three Motorcycles were brought from the forest and took us to the camp. It was a very long walk. From around 7:30pm, we could only made it to their camp at around 10:30pm.

Behold! We are at the camp. It's so terrifying. There were many of them. There were many victims/captives. But wait, among the captives, it is like I noticed a whiteman. Yes, a whiteman but I was psychologically disturbed experiencing this for the first time. The whiteman wasn't my concern but how to walk out of that place alive and unhurt. I was praying deep inside; asking the Almighty for the best out of the situation and to forgive me of my sins. Suddenly one of their Ogas asked: whose phone is this? I answered, it is mine. He gave me to unlock it which I did without any delay.

On my Wallpaper, it was my father's picture: well turbaned, wearing his shining big gown (Babban Riga), holding a royal stick. On seeing this, they were like, that's nice! We had a big catch. They went further and enter into my gallery. Yes, this one has a special price.

The tradition is that, the new entrants would introduce themselves one after the other and what they do for a living and tell them whether your parents are alive or not and in most cases, one shouldn't attempt to lie because there might likely be a grave repercussion if caught. This method, that's what mostly determine your price. We were three and here was how each introduced himself:

1. I am Buhari. From Zaria and I am into poultry. My father and mother are still alive.

2. I am Ibrahim. From Zaria and I am a Driver at Dangote Company although I spent only one month and got suspended. My father and mother had died since when I was a kid.

3. I am Aliyu. From Minna, Niger State. I don't even know my parents because they are long gone. I am with someone at Minna. He's been helping me for many years.

At this point, the Oga asked us to go and sleep and would continue tomorrow. It was a bare floor. I mean bare ground of rocks and different trees surrounding the entire forest. There isn't anything like building, tent or even a hut. It's an open place. Field. Rocks. Hills. At this point, we noticed other victims using a tree leaves to sleep and wanted to use it too but were denied with a strong warning (of insults) that we couldn't use the leaves as we were new-comers until tomorrow.

But then, they asked us to remove our rings and every other thing which we did without hesitation and this time, I was sure that part of the captives, I've seen a whiteman sleeping on the ground.

To be continued...