Friday, April 4, 2008

The morning of April 4th,1998

I typed this post last friday but couldn't post it cos i was out of the office for the best part of that day.
Anyway just incase you are wondering why the date reads 4th april. Dont worry you're not seeing double, i backdated it,lol!
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Fourth of April, 1998.
It’s a decade already but the events of that day are still very fresh in my mind. It’s not easy to forget negative experiences.

That day was a Saturday. It was the day me and my brother were going to write JAMB for the second time. For those who do not know, JAMB is like a compulsory examination which you have to sit for and pass before you can enter any of the universities in Nigeria.
My brother and I were taking the exam for the second time, not that we had failed the first attempt but the results of the center where we wrote that first JAMB exam had been cancelled for reasons best known to JAMB people.
So we had to write another JAMB exam and it was scheduled for Fourth April 1998.

The day broke normally. Nothing suggested that anything negative was going to happen. Unlike other Saturdays when we slept in as late as we wanted, we had to rise early to prepare for our exams that day. Our exam center was very far from where we lived at the time and we couldn’t afford to take chances with the Lagos traffic.

My mum voice woke us up that morning. She was always a light sleeper.
“See this children! Its 6.30am and you people are still sleeping enh? You have forgotten you have an exam today abi? Your mates are already at their exam centres and my own children are here snoring their life away…oya hanlele(get up quickly) from that bed and go get ready!”

I jumped out of bad and headed for the bathroom to take a quick shower.

I was coming out of the bathroom when I heard the noise. It was my mum shouting at the top of her voice.
“ COME AND OPEN THE DOOR O, SOME PEOPLE ARE HERE!!”
Her voice was coming from the direction of the front door to the house. I wondered why she was out there shouting for someone to open the front door when she knew we hardly opened that door. She could have come through the back door except maybe the people she was talking about were strangers. Then I wondered what kind of strangers would come visiting at 6.30am in the morning. It all seemed strange so I went to the sitting room to peep out of the window.
There she was, standing on the front porch with two strange looking men. She didn’t look like anything was wrong but there was something strange about the way she was screaming at the top of her voice for someone to open the door.
What I didn’t know then was that those men were men of the underworld, in simple speak-armed robbers and my mum was trying to alert those of us inside that something was wrong. I didn’t get her message but my dad did and he locked his door and hid in his toilet. Perhaps that was his saving grace, if those devils had met him, they may have killed him.

My instincts said not to open the front door so I decided to go through the back door and check what was really up. I was still clad in my towel. As I opened the back door to step out, there was my brother and my cousin being led back into the house by another strange looking man. I still didn’t immediately realize that they were armed robbers. I stood there at the door blocking their entrance and asked.
“What is happening? Who is this man??”

At that same moment, I saw it and froze. A gleaming black pistol was pointing at me.
The scratchy voice went.
“You better turn back inside before I blow out your brains!”
Jesus Christ!
I didn’t need another prompting. I quickly turned on my heels and led the entourage back into the house.
As we entered the sitting room, there was my uncle(My mum’s youngest brother who was visiting) peeping out of the window. He immediately turned towards us as we entered. The man who was behind us with the gun now barked “LIE DOWN ALL OF YOU!”
My uncle was the first to hit the floor. Now, Where are the men when you need them to be macho? lol!
Anyway, we all prostrated on the floor. He barked again.
“HIDE YOUR FACE, I NO WANT SEE ANY BODY EYES O!” I sneaked a look up. That was when I noticed that he had one eye. He really looked frightening!

That same moment, my mum was led into the sitting room by the other two men she was standing with earlier. They had gotten tired of waiting on the front porch and decided to come in through the back. There was another man too with them. Now they numbered four.

They pushed my mum to the floor as the one who appeared to be their leader asked.
“WEY THE HEAD OF THIS HOUSE?”
My mum replied.
“He is not at home”
“MADAM, YOU THINK SAY WE DEY PLAY? I SAY WEY THE HEAD OF THIS HOUSE??”
One of the men now pulled up my uncle from the ground.
“NA YOU BE THE HEAD OF THIS HOUSE ABI?”
My uncle was shaking terribly. He looked like he was going to piss in his pants any minute.
“No be me o! Abeg no be me…I be visitor”
“I SAY NA YOU GET THIS HOUSE! OYA IF YOU SAY NO BE YOU, WHERE THE PERSON DEY?”

I swear, if my mum didn’t cut in at that point my uncle would have blurted out that my dad was home. So she quickly butted in.
“Oga I don tell you say the person no dey house. Anything you want, we go give you abeg “
Their leader seemed to believe her so he signaled the other guy to leave my uncle who appeared very relieved as he quickly lay down on the floor again.

By now one of them led my youngest brother into the sitting room. He had been sleeping and still had that sleepy look about him. I didn’t think he fully realized what was going on.
One of them asked him.
“Where is your daddy’s room? Oya carry us go there”
My brother led him out. After a few minutes I could hear the banging on my dad’s door. The man was shouting.
“OPEN THIS DOOR OR I BREAK IT DOWN!!”
I wondered if my dad would open the door.
After another few minutes, they came back in. My brother and the man in tow. It looked like he finally accepted that my dad wasn’t home.
Then the one who looked like the leader barked at my mum.
“OYA WOMAN, WHERE IS THE ONE MILLION DOLLARS??”
I thought to myself.
How the hell did this devils think we had one million dollars in this house?? One million dollars?? Not even One million naira!
“ Please, we don’t have one million dollars in this house o!’ My mum pleaded.

“WOMAN YOU THINK SAY WE COME HERE TO PLAY ENH? AS YOU SEE US SO…NA REAL BUSINESS WE COME FOR O…THE PERSON WEY SEND US SAY WE FIT KPAI(kill) ANYBODY WEY WE WANT O…SO MAKE UNA JUST CO-OPERATE WIT US IF UNA NO WANT DIE. I SAY GO BRING THE ONE MILLION DOLLARS”

I wondered if we really had that kind of money in the house. Was there something I didn’t know?
My mum kept insisting there was no such money in the house and the men got more furious. The leader then hit her with the butt of the gun he was holding. I saw blood run down my mother’s head. The anger and fear I felt was incomprehensible, I trembled.
Then he pulled up my second brother. The one I was supposed to be writing JAMB with. The clock in the sitting room chimed almost at the same time. 7.30am! The devils had been around for 1 hour now.

He pointed his gun at my brother’s head and turned to my bleeding mum.
“AT THE COUNT OF 5, IF YOU NO BRING OUT THE ONE MILLION DOLLARS, I GO SHOOT DIS BOY…ONE..”
The man looked like he didn’t much prompting to kill.
My mum was crying now as she said “Please don’t kill him, we don’t have one million dollars but I’ll give you every thing we have…come follow me”
She got up and they filed out. The leader with his gun still pointed at my brother and another one of the robbers. They headed for my mum’s room.

We were left lying on the sitting room floor with the two other thieves. The one-eyed guy and another one who was bent on picking every thing he laid his eyes on. He had a big bag which he was throwing things into. He threw in the VCD remote control. As he made to throw the VCD player in, Mr. One eye who obviously was not in agreement with his colleague’s petty thievery stopped him.
“E never do?? Leave all those things jare…no be wetin we come for!”
I guessed he didn’t want to carry excess baggage. All he was interested in was the One Million dollars.
The other guy dropped the VCD player but he didn’t return the remote control. Idiot! Because of him, we didn’t have a remote control for that VCD after that day. Soon after, Mr. Petty Thief stepped out of the sitting room. He probably went to ransack our rooms and bags cos we later found out when they left that our things had been turned upside down, my cousin’s salary had been stolen, some of my brothers’ trousers and shirts were also missing.

So we lay there listening to the sounds and noise coming from the direction of my mum’s room. By the way, I was still clad in my towel and my cousin had this see through nightgown on. I wondered who looked more tempting (motivation to rape) to the robbers between the both of us. Thankfully, that was not part of their agenda cos they didn’t even seem to notice our semi nude outfits.
Occasionally we would raise our heads but there was always a ready kick to the head from Mr. One eye who stood guard over us.
After what seemed like a life time, they came back to the sitting room. My mum, my brother, and our masters-the armed robbers. One of them was carrying a travelling bag-my uncles’. That bag contained money…raw cash. It wasn’t one million dollars but it was a lot of money in naira. My uncle was a business man based in the east and was supposed to be traveling out of the country the next day for business. The money in the bag was to be changed to foreign currency later on in the day.
Till today, I still think those guys were tipped off by someone or maybe they trailed my uncle to our house.

As they came into the sitting room. The one who had been with us- Mr. One eye asked their leader.
“Una don get the dough?”
The leader opened the bag. It was filled with naira notes and the demented man said.
“This one na paper full am o!”
Imagine! Calling someone’s hard earned sweat, paper! I was disgusted.
The clock chimed 8am.
They had been here for an hour, 30 minutes now.
I looked at my mum. Her top was soaked with blood. The blood on her head seemed to have congealed; it wasn’t running down her head like before…thank God!

They hadn’t gotten One million dollars but they had gotten something and I guess they realized that was all they were getting so they bundled us all into the kitchen and locked us inside.
They also locked the main door from outside so there was no way for us to get out and they left.
My dad later opened the kitchen door and let us out. My mum was quickly rushed to the hospital and my brother and I had to hurry off to our JAMB exam venues.
We arrived late like halfway into the examination. I was mentally disorganized; I couldn’t concentrate on the paper in front of me. The events of that morning kept playing over and over in my mind. I was worried about my mum and wondered if she was okay. Everything was just crazy!
It was a surprise that I made a good result-far above the cut off mark.
Maybe God wanted to compensate me for the trauma I had passed through.

I pray we (me and you reading) never have to go through that kind of experience in our lives in Jesus’ name, Amen.

46 comments:

30+ said...

Oh my Dayz

30+ said...

I can imagine all that Trauma and still you were able to sit exams. Na dis kind thing dey make naija people strong o.

Thank God that they did not touch you and your cuz o.

Ndo, e kpele

onydchic said...

Wow, sounds traumatic... just be very grateful noone was hurt..
thieves came to my house when i was very young, but i was asleep, and luckily they didnt make it in, they were scared off by passing police cars!

darkelcee said...

whao, that was traumatic


thank God it didnt get worse.

how are you?

Anu boy said...

haba... anyways, that was 10years ago... thank God yall are ok oh... anyways, ki lon sele...

Be silent said...

God atleast you came out alive i have heard stories where people are killed..

doll said...

too late for your prayers...iv experienced exactly the same event. its really traumatic.....mine was at night the day after my final WAEC exams....about 15 men...couldn't sleep for days....really traumatic, but than God we all survived

princesa said...

@30+, naija peeps are real survivors. The kind thig person dey see for this country...enh...no be small o!

@onydchic, someone was hurt...My mum! It could have been worse tho so we thank God.

@darkelcee,am fine babes.

@anuboy, yes it was 10 yrs back. Na work & fuel scarcity dey sele o!

@be silent, yea you are right.In all things we should thank God.

@doll, its not oo late for my prayers dear. Armed robbers dont only strike once(not our portion sha. I have had like 3 different encounters with the daredevils so i know.

uNWrItten* said...

wow crazy..this reminds me of my own experience in naija..i just might blog about it..thank God everyone was ok..:)

AJIKE said...

Thank God, omo if na me..exam wetin?....i no fit...as in that was one hell of a scary journey reading thru, at least no one was killed, or thank God it wasn't has bad..but it was scary i know...

Thank God you are alive today and all is well sha...eeeyah!

hmmmm!

Onome said...

so sorry u passed thru all dat and tank God u ladies werent touched!!! sorry about ur mum and thank God everyone is ok...may God continue to sustain and protect us all

Aijay said...

So sorry dear. Truly traumatic.
Thank God for keeping you and your family.
May God continue to protect us in this big bad world...

Free-flowing Florida said...

eh ya, dearie.

na wa o.

am speechless

this has never happened 2 me & i pray it never does

pele o

Jarrai said...

My goodness!! there are wicked people in this world. That is just a horrible experience...thank God for small mercy's that no one got seriously hurt. Ha! what has this world come to?

First time here, nice blog.

Ms. emmotions said...

oh dear !

never happened to me too, ' pray it dosnt even happy to anybody

archiwiz said...

Thank God for keeping you all oh. And trust Naija parents to still make you go for an exam to get your mind off the trauma. They must have thanked God the exam was that day.



And yes oh, it was a compliment I left you...

Ollay said...

Naija can be scary but God is always faithful...

s.chic said...

thank God for mercies oh...the two times those underworld pple came to our house, i was in boarding house...

Charizard said...

wow...da was so scary...thank God he stood by y'all and a big

AMEENNNNNN to your prayer o...

Honeywell said...

Thank God that you and your family survived that attack oh! May God continually protect us all... Amen!

TinTin said...

I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma u must have gone thru! especially seeing them hit ur mum!! i swear anyone i see touch my momsi is going down...infact they had better kill me!!

Jaycee said...

Amen...I can't imagine having a major exam on the same day. Thank God no one was harmed badly...wow.

NikkiSab said...

Geez....dat must av been quite scary, thank goodness no one was killed.

Afrobabe said...

My day I had always told people that I had never seen robbers till the day they came to my house oh...It looked like a movie...luckily they didnt hurt anyone...

Thank God ur mum is fine...
The cowards...hitting a woman...curses follow them I tell u...

Aphrodite said...

Princesa do o!
Am glad you are alive and well to blog about this.

Aphrodite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naija Chickito said...

Oh babes. That must have been very difficult and you obviously remember it like it was yesterday. *shivers*

Amen to your prayers. May the enemy never find us.

desperate lady said...

Ameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen! Omg i can't imagine being der, like i'll pee on myself....jokes aside!
I'm glad ur mom is alright. Gosh der r so many things we should be grateful 4 in life........

OluwaDee said...

I second that Amen.
10k God ur family wasn't seriously harmed n no1 was killed.
Yeye theives.

n ur jamb, it was definitely God on ur side.

there is this new thing on blogger where u can schedule a post for a future date.

Hope u r gd?

classybabe said...

Those armed robbers can be very scary,when they came to our house i was just praying,because u never know the thoughts that can pop up in their head-they can cause havoc without batting an eye.
God help us all

UnNaked Soul said...

no be God!
for warri na 12 show our kaban.
mad experience no doubt.

Zephi Fahrenheit said...

na wa oh

thank God for safety and no one was lost..such a surreal story..
how are you hon?

Arewa said...

Amen ooh... its the worst thing ever. God Help us.

Today's ranting said...

This is one hella experience.I remember the day they visited us.It was a night mare. Men of the underworld are terrible.

Adanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
princesa said...

@unwritten, yea maybe you should blog about it.
@ajike, it would have been worse of I had to stay home another year cos of those robbers.
@onome & aijay, thanks, amen ooooooo!
@florida & ms. emotions, it will never happen to you babes!
@jarrai, thanx for dropping in.
@archiwiz, they didn’t have to make us go for that exam, we HAD TO go for it! Thanks for the compliment.
@ollay, yes he is indeed.
@s.chic, lucky you.
@charizard, thanks.
@honeywell, amen.
@tintin, I feel you on ur love for ur mum but do you think it would do her any good to lose you?
@jaycee, yea it was traumatic.
@afrobabe, Yea curses follow them. Thankfully our God is a forgiving one, soon now they go turn pastor come form church.
@aphrodite, thanks babe…am glad too o
@naija chickito, yea I remember it very vividly. Its hard to forget things like that.
@DL, so many things babe…so many things!
@oluwadee, am good babes. Hmmm…scheduling posts? That’s cool!
@classybabe, you know they are always high on something.
@unnaked, sorry for ur own experience dude. Na God o!
@zephi, am cool love. Surreal but true.
@arewa, he'll definitely help us dear.
@today's ranting, true talk.

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

Wao!! me i wouldnt have been able to rite the exams o!! ha

NikkiSab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NikkiSab said...

Abi no b here I drop comment? Wait o na only me no get reply - Princesa shei kosi?

princesa said...

@nikkisab, lol! No vex my dear. I no see ur comment before, na old age dey cause am:)

Thanx for the comment and thank God no one was killed too.

@36,thank God i wasnt you,lol!

ejatutu said...

this is bringing back horrible memories......... really horrible memories. Thank God u are still here to laugh about it.

Abbie said...

OMG!!! This EXACT same thing happened to us when we lived in Nigeria and became the single most defining moment of why I feel the way I do about Nigeria.

Thing is, my mom DID have $7000 on her person, my dad DID have close to that much as well and it was freggin eerie how they knew that. My mom lost hers, but my Dad being hard headed as he was claimed he didn't have any money. I can't imagine what would have happened if they found the money "he didn't have".

Ah! The good times!
Glad you and your family got out of that alive.

Naapali said...

Amen Princesa! First off, I am grateful your ordeal was not worse than that, as bad as it was. I am grateful that it did not dampen your spirit or taint the fresh air you exude.

My brief interaction with armed robbers was a carjacking and that lasted all of 60 seconds though the unpleasantness lingered for much longer.

Calabar Gal said...

Thank God you all escaped unscathed and alive. I wouldnt wish that kind of experience on my worst enemy.

bumight said...

I didnt even know you backdated this!
I havent had such interactions with armed robbers, and I pray that I never do.

AnyaPosh said...

OMG! That is soooo CRAZY! That is so unfortunate but I'm glad you survived this & nothing happened to any of the members of your family.