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, 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 don’t 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 police’s job to handle such matters?
Then it is not your responsibility to call the police! The Commander 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 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 Unclad 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 commander 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 Joystick 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.
Commander 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 commander 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 commander; 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; 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?
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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 in the 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! Won’t 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 don’t 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 don’t 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.
To Be Continued…
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