THE BIG BETRAYAL AT REDEEMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF GOD CAMP AND THE ARREST OF MRS. MOJISOLA IKOLODO

Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD

Odogwu of Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria

President, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)

Email: [email protected]

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In December 2017, after more than one year in hiding at Asaba, I was informed that some operatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) came to my family home at my hometown Ibusa to enquire about my whereabouts. Although some of my family members were aware that I was staying somewhere at Asaba, but my actual location was all the while kept out of their knowledge. So from that moment I became extremely cautious of both my movements and phone calls.

 

Few days after the information was relayed to me, I encountered an extraordinary Facebook friend called Isioma Osiegbu, a young lady who informed that I once helped her with her school fees during her High School days when there was nobody to help her and that she had all the while been searching for me to show appreciation, until someone informed her that I was on Facebook. I never recognized her because there were a lot of people both in my hometown and beyond I had helped in that way at different times.

Although the name appeared familiar but I still could not fully substantiate my knowledge of her. But being that it was all about the good work I was said to have done, I felt there was no danger chatting her up further. So we exchanged pleasantries and telephone numbers. It was then that she informed me that she was working as a sales girl at Asaba and that whenever I was around at my hometown she would like to meet me. Unknown to me she was being used by the DSS to set me up for eventual arrest.

On New Year day, January 1, 2018, she asked if I could visit her for lunch or whether she could bring me some food to my home. All the while we were talking I neither invited her to my place of refuge nor gave her the address of the place. So the idea of her coming to my home was ruled out, even as I found it exceedingly difficult accepting her invitation. After persistent pressure I decided to accept the invitation and consequently informed her that I would be coming to her house instead. She consequently gave me the address and description of her home, which according to her was on a street off Ezenei Avenue, Asaba, close to a hotel named “White.” Having become extremely security conscious at the time, I decided to invite Mr. Jude Sawyer who had been acting as my Personal Assistant from the point I was appointed Director of the Centre for Igbo Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to accompany me, since he is fully acquainted with my security situation.

The lady had given me 1 pm local time as my appointment time and further instructed me to inform her when I got to her street’s junction off Ezenei Avenue. However, adopting independent precautionary measures, I decided to depart 30 minutes earlier. When we got to the junction where she requested I should call her, I decided not to do that until after we had explored the security of the environment.

But one striking scenario at the junction that gave me an advance warning of an impending danger was the appearance of fresh looking bare-bodied middle aged man with multiple vertical facial tribal identity marks that clearly defined him as a Yoruba man of Oyo sub-ethnic group. His freshly oiled body appearance with a tooth-pick toying aimlessly with his set of dentition not only clearly betrayed his fakeness and cosmetic disposition of a local Asaba resident, but evidently revealed him as a striking stranger to the environment. Having worked briefly with the then State Security Service (SSS), later changed to the present Directorate of State Security (DSS) during my National Youth Service (NYSC), I was quick to identify him by his manner of feigning simplicity of appearance as a suspicious security agent. Of course with my short stint with them and training as an investigative historian, I know that most of the DSS officials are not as cerebral and invincible as most people take them to be, just like their Nigeria Police counterparts.

Furthermore, my suspicion was enlivened by the nature of the eco-climatic condition of Asaba streets at that period. Being that the streets of those parts of Asaba populated by stranger elements like Ezenei Avenue were virtually deserted on New Year Day as on Christmas Day, it was easy for us to quickly identify the strange characteristic appearance of that strange man. With my experience as a boy of seven years living with Biafran soldiers in the forest with my parents during the Nigerian civil war, I was quick to pick the man conveniently as someone on a recce mission. Indeed, if I had made that call at that moment, that man could have gripped me and immediately beckon on his security colleagues evidently hanging around the area to come to his assistance. But the divine unction moving around me did not allow that to happen.

We those quickly walked away from the man into the street as if we did not take notice of him. Moreover I had the advantage of street-boy simplicity that, unless we have met in-person, you will not believe I am the same person you are told the DSS are searching for. As we matched down the street towards the Hotel, we discussed in unison on the suspicious appearance of the man. When we got to the vicinities of the Hotel, we saw two young men sitting under a make-shift canopy in front of another hotel just adjacent the White Hotel. I then asked them if that was the only hotel adjacent the White Hotel they nodded in agreement, and we entered the said hotel made enquiries about their reservations, and left. But instead of demanding further information, we decided to negotiate into the adjacent street to the Church standing next to White Hotel.

Meanwhile by the time we came out of the Hotel, the two young men had been suspiciously reduced to one. When we entered the adjacent street, I told Jude to move back to the main street and give me a finger-sign when the girl appears after I had called her. As soon as he moved into the street at the canopy where the one young man was still sitting, I called the girl to inform her that I was already at the front of the Hotel and that she should come out for me to see her. She replied that she was already in front of the Hotel but could not see me. When I signaled Jude if she was there, he gave me a negative return. I therefore decided to cut off the phone and signaled to Jude that we should be going, and I started walking back to the street.

Meanwhile she continued calling me but I refused to pick the call. As I entered the street while my phone was still ringing, I saw the young man that previously disappeared from the canopy standing at the center of the street with one hand feeling the phone in his pocket, with a tinted-glass blue-colored Toyota Corolla saloon car neatly packed a short distance away in a ready-to-move position. I immediately sensed I was in serious danger as cold shudders began to descend all over my body. As the young man stood still expecting someone among the two of us to pick the call, we moved with a lightening walking speed and negotiated into the next available street out of sight of danger, where I at once switched off my phone.

As soon as we got to Jude’s house still perspiring with great fear, I switched on my phone and called the girl thanking her for her failed attempt to deliver me into the hands of those who sought to kill me, and that I only expect Heavens to judge between two of us if I deserved to be betrayed in that manner. Her response was to swear Heavens and Earth if she ever colluded with the security agents to apprehend me. Well, that was all I heard from her as I refused to further pick her calls thereafter.

It should be recalled that throughout the period of my hiding in Asaba I devoted much of my time to research and writing, particularly working on three book manuscripts—my PhD thesis which was later published in 2019 under the title: THE AFRICAN THEATER OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Studies in Arab Neo-Colonialism in Black Africa in Washington DC, by Academica Press Inc, and two others, “THE BIAFRAN SPIRIT AND THE ROAD TO FULANI POLITICAL ARMAGEDDON: Anatomy of Igbo-Fulani Confrontation in Nigeria”, and “THE MIND OF SHEHU USMAN DAN FODIO AND THE NIGERIAN NATIONALITY QUESTION: Anatomy of the Battle of the Cross and the Crescent”, both of which and other valuable research files were lost with my laptop which I abandoned at the Redeemed Church of God Camp, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, in my bid to escape DSS arrest.

From that moment of my New Year Day miraculous escape it dawned on me that the big hunt for me had begun and I soon began to nurse the idea of escaping to Ghana or elsewhere. From that moment also I moved out of my hiding place, handing over the keys of my three cars and my apartment to Jude, instructing him to gradually transfer my belongings to his apartment. The following day I moved to a friend’s house— Mr. Tony Sawyer, a legal practitioner and the immediate junior brother to Jude.

Throughout the night I did not sleep, especially with the constant phone calls and text messages my host was engaged in most of the night. Although as a practicing lawyer I am aware of his constant communications with his clients at unusual hours, but for that moment I was restless and suspicious of any unknown call around me. At around 4:30 am, I informed my host I was leaving. Although he was a bit worried but having known my situation at the time, he had no objection. Without informing him of my destination, I quickly moved into the lonely street under the cover of semi-darkness, moving with the swiftness of a hunted hare and cautious of the slightest shadow of any moving or standing being. My destination was Awka, the home of one of my trusted friends Nwabude Ogechukwu Ezeajughi from Ogbu in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Incidentally his younger brother is the current Chief of Staff to Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo.

Using my mental directional beacon in compliance with my local understanding of the cardinal location of the terrain, I avoided by every possible means all the busy streets, skipping off the road momentarily to avoid the suspicious head-light rays of coming vehicles. Instead of taking the major Asaba route to Onitsha, I decided to take a decoy track to Okpanam Expressway junction. From there I boarded a commercial bus to Onitsha, from where I took off to Awka.

I moved to Awka and stayed with a friend Mr. Oge Ezeajughi where I stayed three days. Since I was used to visiting him for occasional historical fieldwork and consultations in Anambra State without notice, I did not care to inform him my reason for coming. He too did not care to ask me my reason for coming. It had been my tradition whenever I visited and needed to photocopy some documents to patronize one particular Business Center run by an Igbo-Ukwu lady in conjunction with her husband at the Unizik Junction. So for the first two days of my arrival, I decided to idle away my time with them.

However, on the second day, I discovered an unusual internet signal on my phone and whenever I tried to connect it would disappear. I became more suspicious when the woman moved outside the office to answer a phone call, only to come back and requested me to lecturer her on some aspects of Igbo-Ukwu archaeological excavations later in the evening. I told that she should ask me right away since she had no customer; but she insisted that evening would be better since there were two other people who would be willing to learn from me. I immediately realized that danger was knocking on her doorsteps. However, I calmly informed her that I had an appointment with somebody at Amawbia before that time and that if I was able to finish in time I would come. Immediately after that I calmly withdrew from the office and subsequently found my way to a printing press not far from there where my host was printing some documents. We stayed there till the around 9 pm when we both retired to his home.

While sleeping that night, I noticed that I was being tracked with my Samsung android tab when it began to beep momentarily, even after I had switched it off. It was then I told my friend that I would be leaving his place very early in the morning. He asked why I should leave so early against our earlier plan for me to proof-read some manuscripts for him; but I simply told him I had urgent appointment at my hometown and that I would be back the next day. So by 5 am I left the house together with his housemaid who was going to work at that time. Ogechukwu Ezeajughi’s house was then adjacent Unizik Bus Park, just few steps to the Expressway junction. We both eventually separated at the Expressway junction, with her proceeding to her destination, and me at a loss on what destination I would undertake.

My plan was to move to Onitsha from where I would then proceed to Benin City to seek financial support from my counsel Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, for onward escape to Lagos; from where I would subsequently find my way across the Nigerian border to Benin Republic, and further to Republic of Ghana. However when I got to the motor park on the Expressway, I was quick to detect an unusual attention when an unknown man came to question a young man sitting close to me about his identity and subsequently chasing him away from that point without talking to me. I immediately sensed danger and that I could be the next target with a greater magnitude of authority and immediately decided to change my position, while at the same time deciding to change the course of my journey to the neighboring town of Adazi Nnukwu—the home of one of my academic fathers, Prof. I. T. K. Ogbukagu who died not quite long ago and whose funeral I was unable to attend due to my current security situation. So I decided to take the next available tricycle known as Keke to Awka main town from where I would take a bus to Amawbia Junction, and then to Nwagu Bus Stop, Agulu, and finally trek the short distance into Adazi-Nnukwu town through their popular Saint Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church.

It was still dark at that time and so recognizing someone’s face would only take either a second or closer look. Moreover the situation did not warrant anyone trying to identify whoever was sitting next to him in the same keke since everybody’s mind was posited towards his destination. As soon as I jumped into the next available tricycle, I saw a young man under the same cover of darkness jumping almost simultaneously. I immediately took a breath of caution as the young man sat next to me at the back. Soon two other passengers, both women joined us, one sharing the back seat with us, and the other sharing the front seat with the rider.

Not long after, the lady sharing the back seat with us disembarked, leaving me with the now suspicious young man. As soon as the rider put the tricycle in motion again, the young man gave me a sinister gaze and immediately brought out something that looked like a phone tracker and began to press the keys. I had my Samsung Tab A which is an easy prey to tracking, and my laptop with me. Sensing danger, I immediately became restless, and without further contemplation on my next line of action, disembarked abruptly, moved swiftly to the next adjacent street, from where I joined the main Nnamdi Azikiwe Avenue, took a mini-bus to Amawbia junction, from where I took another mini-bus to the popular Nwagu Bus-Stop, Agulu. From Nwagu Bus-Stop, I just trekked down about three poles along the Agulu-Nnobi-Nnewi major road and found myself into the winding paths and streets of Adazi-Nnukwu and soon got to my destination.

When I got there, the wife—Mrs. Odiuko Ogbukagu was surprised to see me in such a distress situation and eventually acknowledged the reason of my absence during her husband’s burial ceremony. I stayed there incognito for the whole day and left the following morning on my way back to my home-State of Delta. I stopped briefly at Nkpor at my cousin’s house, Felicia Odume whose husband is from Anambra State, but soon found out that sleeping there overnight was as risky as sleeping on Upper Iweka Road, Onitsha. I decided to move straight to Ugbolu town near Asaba, to a friend from Igbakwu, Ayamelum Local Government Area, Anambra State, Dr. Paul Metala where I slept.

The following morning, I informed him that I was escaping to Lagos where I would then find a way to cross over to Republic of Benin. He knew I had no money at the time, so he gave me the little amount he could afford at the time, which could only take me to Benin City. Dr. Metala being a man of special clairvoyance had warned me of the dangers of moving around with my phone because it would be used to track me down. I agreed with him given my experience at Awka, but then it was difficult to do away with my phone and laptop at that stage, both of which I considered my professional academic lifelines at the time.

From Ugbolu I moved to Asaba and in order to avoid open spaces, I decided to move to Okpanam again where I took a commuter to Benin City. On getting to Benin City, I knew that my counsel’s office (Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, would be a major flash point of ambush for me. So I tactfully avoided going there directly. Instead what I did was to go to the ever busy Ring Road vicinity where I used an impoverished non-android analogue hand-set to call him, intimating him of the danger facing me and my urgent need for money to enable me move to Lagos. It was at that point that he informed me that the same DSS was similarly going after him. Benevolently, he sent me the sum of ten thousand naira through a third party with which I eventually boarded a commuter to Lagos.

On getting to Lagos, I checked into a familiar hotel at the Ojuelegba suburb of Surulere as a precautionary measure. My plan was to meet Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd) and plead with him to mobilize support for me to cross the border into Republic of Benin onward to Ghana. Admiral Kanu was a former Military Governor of Lagos State and a frontline pro-democracy activist. He was also the National Chairman of the National Coalition for Democracy (NADECO) at the time.

At about 5am, just as I finished taking my birth, my phone which had been switched off since I arrived at Lagos the previous day began to beep. It was at that point I sensed danger and quickly moved out of the hotel. I moved to the open Ojuelegba roundabout just to while away time for day-break to emerge. However, since there were Police patrols around the area, I decided to move further away to Peace Mass Transit loading spot and sat with some passengers outside the open space. Few minutes later, when I thought I was comfortably seated and safely settled down, a Police patrol team entered the loading spot and immediately I saw the team-leader, an Inspector with a huge frame, tapping the tracker in his hand. I became as fearful as I was agitated and immediately left the premises, moving back to Ojuelegba roundabout, where I immediately boarded a commuter to CMS Bus-Stop Lagos Island; from where I expected to take another bus to Victoria Island to meet Admiral Kanu.

When I arrived at the popular and ever busy CMS Bus-Stop Lagos, it was still too early to go to somebody’s office. So I decided to wait within the park for the morning to set in properly. As I sat beside a Hausa shoe-maker on his working bench while at the same time gazing at the massive clock mounted on the imposing pinnacle of Christ Church Cathedral tick-tocking leisurely, I wandered under my present state of apprehension how long it would take the clock by its snail movement to tik-tok to 7am, being the time I believed it would be convenient for me to join the next commuter to Victoria Island.

Just as I was beginning to be unconsciously buried in the thought of the ticking clock, an unusual movement in the midst of the multitudes of movements distracted my attention, and I was forced to momentarily abandon my thoughts to probe the said unusual movement. Standing a few meters away was a middle aged man gazing steadily at me with similar tracking gadget which I had noted with both my co-keke passenger at Awka and the Police Inspector at Peace Mass Transit loading spot, Ojuelegba. When the man noticed I was returning the gaze with unusual attention he quickly turned his face away from my direction. It was at that point I knew the man was after me, and almost immediately I moved out of the scene and headed towards the loading spot of Victoria Island commuters.

Ordinarily my commuter route was Law School through Ozumba Mbadiwe Street in the course of which I would stop at Oniru Junction Bus-Stop, trek through the Oniru link road and then burst into Kofi Abayomi Street on which stands Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu’s imposing Office Complex. But when I rushed to the loading spot I found that the bus loading Law School had just left and the next loading bus had only few people inside, which would be dangerous to the circumstances of the moment. I then looked for alternative route. And lo and behold, the bus taking Adeola Odeku route had only one passenger remaining at the front seat. I quickly jumped in and off we moved.

Taking this Adeola Odeku route meant I would trek an appreciable long distance to connect Kofi Abayomi Street. But at a second thought I began to think of what to do with my android gadgets which had been the major source of my ongoing menacing chase. So I decided to make a decoy that would momentarily put off my chasers off my course. On getting to Adeola Odeku Street, I disembarked at Post Office Bust-Stop; crossed to the opposite side of the road and boarded another commuter bus, this time heading to Obalende Bus-Stop. My slogan became “move on without stopping.” When I got to Obalende Bus-Stop, I discovered that the next available ready-to-move bus was a “Ketu-Mile 12” luxury bus. I immediately boarded it, disembarking at Ketu Bus-Stop. Crossing over to the opposite side of the Highway, I boarded another commuter bus heading to Ojota Bus-Stop. From Ojota I took another one heading to Oshodi Bus-Stop. From Oshodi I boarded the one heading to “Cele-Mile 2” route and eventually stopped at Iyana-Isolo Bus-Stop.

Moving across the opposite side of the popular Oshodi-Apapa Expressway through which I came, I quickly located one of my many BMW car spared-parts customers on the popular Olanibi Street, Papa-Ajao Suburb of Mushin, which is an extension of the popular Ladipo Motor Spare-Parts Market, Pastor Ambrose Ezejioha. Without explaining my reason of being around, I quickly handed him my Samsung Tab, and told him to keep it for me until I was back from Lagos Island. He agreed and took the gadgets from me.

It is remarkable to note that I eventually retrieved the phone from him eight months later—August 2018, after I arrived to Ghana, through the benevolent assistance of one of my former students at the Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Miss Chidinma Anya from Ohafia, Abia State, who willingly spent more than the sum of five thousand naira to courier it to me at Accra. I have ever remained thankful for her sacrifice under that ominous situation; and to Pastor Ambrose Ezejioha who proved that his Christianity was not a questionable one.

This was after I had circumvented to Ghana through Cameroon, Central African Republic, back to Cameroon again, entering the Boko Haram infested northern part of Nigeria from the border town of Gamboru Ngala under ominous circumstances, which will be discussed in detail under a separate chapter. From Gamboru Ngala I accessed Maiduguri among a convoy of heavily-guided over one hundred vehicles. From Maiduguri I moved to Sokoto through Damaturu, Potiskum, Azare, Birnin Kudu, and Kano.

Arriving at Sokoto, I quickly moved to Ile-Ila border town, from which point I crossed to the town of Birnin Koni in Niger Republic. From Birnin Koni, I moved to the Capital City of Niamey, from where I entered Burkina Faso through the border town of Torodi in Niger Republic and Kantchari in Burkin Faso. Traveling through the popular town of Fada-Ngouma, I branched off to the northern link-road connecting Ghana and Togo borders and finally found myself in the border town of Bitou. From Bitou in Burkina Faso I entered Ghana through the border town of Bawku, from where I landed in Accra the following day.

Having relieved myself of the phone, I was then left with the burden of harboring my laptop which I considered as my mobile research library. Conscious of the prevailing dangers then, I decided to avoid popular and busy link roads in my bid to go back to Victoria Island. Taking a diagonal route that was off popular routes of commuter buses, I trekked from that point of Mushin to Idi-Araba suburb, through the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital to the point where I negotiated right into the slum zone of Idi-Araba, which is mainly settled by immigrant Muslim Hausa-Fulani from the North. I followed this detour until I got to a point where I crossed the main canal dividing the two suburbs of Idi-Araba in Mushin and Lawanson in Surulere. Getting to the main Lawanson Bus-Stop, I immediately boarded a commuter bus heading to Lagos Island, from where I boarded another one that finally took me to my destination—Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu’s office.

Under the grave security circumstances I found myself, there were two prominent pro-democracy political leaders I would readily find untainted refugee on my arrival to Lagos after fleeing from Anambra State. The first was Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu, who was not only a prominent retired naval officer and renowned military politician; having been Military Governor of Imo and Lagos States respectively; but a prominent Igbo leader and pro-democracy leader. He was then the National President of NADECO and hosts at his own cost, the offices of Ndigbo Lagos State and Lower Niger Congress (LNC).

Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu was a rare gem of special Igbo breed, extraordinarily humble in disposition, simplicity in carriage yet authoritatively principled in line with the gait of a military General, kind hearted beyond the comprehension of ordinary mind, selflessly sacrificial to a fault, and above all, patriotically Igbo with the distillation of centripetal Nigerian nationalism. As it stands today, it will be difficult to get any Igbo leader who will be as freely disposed as Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu to take over his leadership position among the Igbo in Lagos State after his death.

I could remember when I landed in Accra distressed and penniless, I first sent an SOS message through my senior brother, Pastor John Nwandu to my kinsman Chief Peter Eloka Okocha of Chrismatel fame, who is a close ally to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for support, but he derogatorily told him he would not give me a dime for me. The same Pastor John Nwandu went to Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu and the man immediately handed him seventy thousand naira and told him to report back later for more money.

The Second was person I was sure would do anything possible within his capability to safeguard me in Lagos State was the late leader of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) Dr. Frederick Faseun. However, because before then I had a little altercation with him over the choice of Delta State Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), my spirit was not in accord with my fleeing to him for refuge. However, he was to later prove my negative assumption wrong when further prevailing circumstances forced me to seek refuge in his Century Hotel.

It is instructive to note that I was not strange to Rear Admiral Kanu as well as to other prominent Igbo leaders and civil right activists in Lagos State and beyond, neither was my activities as an academic civil rights advocate and leader of Igbo People’s Congress (IPC) in Lagos strange to them. We had worked closely together for the common good of Igbo residents in Lagos State as well as for the purpose of advancing democratic principles in Nigeria. So he did not hesitate to grant me audience on learning of my presence in his office.

After narrating my ordeal penultimate my coming to his office, he insisted he should first find out from the DSS the reason I was being hunted. But knowing how satanic the DSS under President Muhammadu Buhari was, I insisted that there was no need for such since it will end up exposing my location thereby endangering me the more. He then requested to know what next was my plan and I responded by telling him that all I needed at that point in time was financial assistance to enable me escape to Ghana. But he insisted that before he would first contact some prominent Igbo leaders in Lagos to deliberate on my situation. He further asked if I had contacted Dr. Frederick Faseun, the OPC leader and a trusted ally, to which I informed him that it was not possible due to the prevailing security circumstances.

Thereafter he put out telephone calls to a number of Igbo leaders in Lagos State. Unfortunately most of those he contacted were not available due to the fact that the annual December-January festive period was not yet over and thus were still tucked up in their various hometowns. The few that were in Lagos at that point in time, of which my kinsman Prof. Pat Utomi was among claimed they were not disposed. Thus out of anxiety mixed with pity, he handed me the sum of fifty thousand naira in support of my travel to Ghana.

He also gave me a special note for the Eze Ndigbo (Diaspora Igbo king) in Accra, instructing him to call him whenever I arrived to Ghana to further brief him on my problem. Unfortunately, when I eventually arrived in Accra seven months later after a tortuous journey of life and death the said Eze Ndigbo declined to set his eyes on me by instructing his Personal Assistant to black me out of his contact for the rest of the entire six months I stayed as a political destitute on the streets of Accra.

I thanked him and bade him farewell and left, thinking that getting to Ghana was as close as traveling to Benin City. It never occurred to me that not Ghana but Togo would eventually be the place of my refuge with relative security, and that like the Israelites of the Exodus fame, it would take me a circuitous journey of one year and eight months of wilderness experience to eventually make it to Togo.

Because of the ruthless security pressure on me at Lagos I was advised to seek alternative route to Benin Republic, from where I could then link up to Ghana. It was getting late and because I did not want to risk staying back in Lagos beyond that day, I decided to move to Ibadan hoping to link up with Saki town situated northwest of Oyo State; from which point I could then unsuspectingly move into Benin Republic. However, by the time I got to Ibadan it was already late and darkness had set in. Ibadan is one city which, even though the largest traditional city in Nigeria, lacks adequate hotel facilities. So getting a hotel accommodation that night was not easy, but at last I was able to get one. Entering my hotel room I was defiantly greeted by a swarm of well-fed cockroaches that neither exhibited any sign of fear for human beings nor had respect for the bright electricity light. I immediately requested the hotel attendant to deal with the menacing co- tenants, or rather landlords. Strikingly enough, after dispensing volumes of insecticide at every nook and cranny of the room, the cockroaches not only remained unscathed but defiantly emerged in greater numbers.  There were indeed no visibly reported dead cockroaches on the floor as is usually the case when insecticides are sprayed. It was then I realized that something might be wrong with the hotel, if not the room.

As I returned to the receptionist to express my disgust I was instead greeted by a man whose unusual courteous attention gave me unexpected cold shudders rather than the usual conviviality. The man who introduced himself as the proprietor of the hotel began to ask me unusual questions over my journey, job, and personal identity in a manner suggestive of his intention to court my friendship, but which to me was a simple Directorate of State Security (DSS) tactic of delay to arrest through pretended friendship. I was therefore not willing to take any chance. Everybody on first contact, including myself, had become a suspect until proven otherwise. I immediately resolved that I was quitting the hotel that night but through unsuspecting tactical approach.

A friend from the Middle Belt region had paid some money into my account for a specific assignment which could neither be accessed nor utilized for the purpose it was meant for. So I decided to use it as my unsuspecting reason to flee the hotel. I thus asked for direction to the nearest bank to the hotel. To my utter surprise, I was informed that I needed a taxi to get to the nearest bank. I eventually vamoosed from the hotel into the unknown night of the old city of Ibadan.

When I eventually got to the bank I discovered that my ATM card was not only unusually slow in operation but was oozing out unusual whistling sound. I became suspicious and could only withdraw the sum of ten thousand naira. With the ATM experience I was convinced that my bank accounts had been placed under security watch. This fear was later confirmed when I arrived in Maiduguri three months later and made an attempt to withdraw money from the bank. I quickly rushed back to the hotel, picked my laptop which was the only treasure I refused to let go and informed the receptionist that I was checking out. I thereafter picked a taxi to a motor park where I would take a commuter to Sango suburb of Ibadan, where I was informed I would take the commuter to the border town of Saki the following morning.

When I got to Sango I discovered that the last night commuter had left some few hours before my arrival and for that reason I had to wait till the following morning to proceed with my journey. I met an Igbo businessman living in Benin Republic who had come to purchase some goods for onward transportation to Benin Republic. He informed me that we would have to sleep in the park till the following morning when all the commuters would then have additional passengers.

We were still engaged in familial discussions as fellow Igbo men when a Police patrol team arrived at the park in what looked like their routine exercise. I did not worry so much about their presence, but since every movement of real or suspected security agents was something I could not dismiss with the wave of hand under the circumstances I found myself, I became curious about their movement. However, not long after they left the scene, the Igbo man talking with me and who understands fluent Yoruba informed me that we might not be departing as early as he had thought because the Police had just informed the officials of the motor park that they should not allow any vehicle to depart in the morning until the Police had conducted some searches. When I attempted to ask further questions, the man became visibly hostile towards me.

In desperation I immediately excused him to by suya (roasted beef) at nearby roadside. As I stepped out on the main road I saw the Police van parked a short distance away from the motor park with Police men standing on alert. They seemed to be looking at me as I bought the suya but could not question me, since they saw me emerging from the motor park. Immediately I finished buying the suya, I moved a little distance away from both the suya spot and the Police van, and beckoned on a commercial motor-cyclist and asked him to take me back to the park from where I came. As we moved out of the scene I told the rider to take me to where I could board a commuter to Ilorin further north, where I could then seek alternative route of escape.

He promptly agreed on the condition that we renegotiate the fare; to which I promptly agreed without hesitation. When we got to the park it was already deserted since it was already getting to 12 midnight. I approached one local unmarked taxi popularly known as Kabukabu and asked the driver where I could get a night transportation vehicle to Ilorin. He subsequently advised me that the only possible place was the Northern trailer park. Being eager to get a customer, he immediately agreed to take me if I was willing to pay a charter price. We agreed at the price of one thousand five hundred naira and off we went.

On getting to the spot, there were many trailers and tankers parked with many of the drivers and assistants dozing off; while some others were relaxing in the ever busy eating and drinking joints. I did not notice any sign of the trailers moving that night. But somehow, some other vehicles continued to move on without stopping at the Park. It was to these ones that I engaged myself on a shouting bout of “Ilorin! Ilorin! It was while engaged on this shouting match that a mini-bus loaded with printing materials stopped, with the driving returning my shout with “One-five”, indicating a fare of one thousand five hundred naira. I did not mind the price, so I quickly jumped inside the bus, of which the drive was the sole occupant, and off we zoomed.

We got to the city of Oyo where the driver rested a while. Thereafter we proceeded on our journey with Ogbomosho as our next port of call. Just as we were approaching Ogbomosho, precisely at a village called Odo Edan, we had flat a tyre, which subsequently forced us to stop to enable the driver fix the tyre. But being that the bus was loaded with heavy construction materials it was difficult to lift it up with the available jack, even with my visible assistance. However, as luck would have it, just at the opposite side of the road was parked a faulty tanker with some young men sitting around it while were watching us with disinterestedness, possibly because the driver did not deem it necessary to request their assistance.

When I discovered that the driver was becoming terribly helpless with the situation, I approached the young men and pleaded for their assistance to which they quickly obliged. Consequently, with their joint support the tyre was eventually replaced, and when the driver wanted to give them some money for the assistance, I opted to do so, a gesture the driver readily appreciated since I had already paid him my fares. However, when the driver beckoned on me to join him for our journey, I declined with the incongruous excuse that it was getting to 2am and that I had decided to go back to Lagos instead. He thereafter left me and continued with the journey, while I pleaded with the young men to stay with them till daybreak, when I would get transportation back to Lagos.

Around 5am when both Christians and Muslims had begun rushing to their morning prayers, I thanked them and bade them farewell and subsequently moved up a bit towards the outskirts of the town, hoping to catch a quick vehicle to Lagos under the hazy darkness of the approaching dawn. Unfortunately, it was not possible to flag down any moving vehicle from that point, since all the vehicles on approaching there were already on top speed. Moving some three poles away from the spot towards the center of the town, I saw a private car pulling out of one of the streets and almost spontaneously I shouted “Lagos!” Immediately the driver stopped and returned the forceful gesture with the phrase: “two thousand”, indicating a fare of two thousand naira. I did not mind as I immediately jumped into the car and off we went.

As we left the city of Oyo and approached Ibadan, three different Police patrol teams respectively confronted us asking “who is Toyin here”, obviously indicating a mispronunciation or misrepresentation of my name: “Tony.” This misrepresentation was easily adaptable because of the popularity of Toyin as a common personal name among the Yoruba. I never talked much as I never had the occasion to reveal my identity to the people transporting me to Lagos. But it did reveal to me that the manhunt for me was intensifying with greater network of the security agencies. We however continued the journey without hitches until we got to the Camp Ground of the Redeemed Christian Church of God along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, where I asked them to drop me off, since I had the confidence of securing refuge from the Church, given that my predicament was predicated on the defense of Nigerian Christians against the looming Muslim Fulani jihad.

I entered the Redeemed Camp with the high hope of safety embellished with the loving kindness of Christian brotherhood. But I was mistaken. What I eventually experienced there had led my mind to question the substance of some tenets of the Church that deals with the subject of human passion vis-à-vis one Faith in Jesus Christ. As I entered the seemingly unending arena I was directed to the Camp Secretariat. But one thing I forgot to note was that that very day was a Saturday and thus there was nobody to talk to except the strolling civil security agents, who thereafter directed me to the Guest House to make inquiries with the Manager.

Meeting the Guest House Manager I then narrated the reasons for my seeking to meet Pastor Enoch Adeboye, believing that I was speaking to a dedicated Christian in much the way a distressed Muslim escaping from Christian persecution would speak to his fellow Muslim for assistance. He promised to contact the Personal Assistant to Pastor Enoch Adeboye and personally led me to the receptionist who he instructed to provide me accommodation in the Guest House with the proviso that I should be the one to bear the cost. He further promised me that he would make the contact with the General Overseer’s PA as quickly as possible. I then took my bath for the first time since three days, and took a nap.

Waking up earlier than expected, I too very hungry to think of what next to do. I then made enquiries from the receptionist on where to buy food. I was directed to walk down the street eastward where I would get a nearby Mama-Put (Local restaurant); where I eventually took a half-hearted breakfast, and then back to my room to ruminate over my next line of action. By the time I got to my room, a uniformed private security man was already positioned close to the door to my room, sitting on a well-positioned chair in a manner that clearly revealed that something ominous was brewing. I courtly greeted him and he reluctantly replied dumbly with a wave of the hand.

I entered the room and attempted to ruminate over my next move while lying on the bed. However, just as I was resigning myself to deep thought, a low but distracting tap on the window situated on the opposite side of the door drew my attention. Looking up to identify the cause of the noise, I saw a middle-aged woman giving me a sign to move closer. I immediately got up from the bed and shifted cautiously towards the window, and before I could utter any word, she said “Get out from here now.” When I tried to enquire further, she just resorted: “Oga leave”, in a low but discomforting tone, and almost immediately she disappeared from the scene.

I immediately dressed up and the thought of moving out with my laptop while the security man was seated at my door portended danger for me, since it would clearly reveal to him that I was leaving the Guest House. Hence at a second thought I decided to hide it under the bed, believing that it would take routine official search to see it and subsequently kept under official safety. I eventually left the room walking unsuspectingly past the seated security man without my laptop which contained my most vital research data including two completed book manuscripts and completed research article manuscripts.

It was clear that because I left the room without my laptop, he did not realize that I was on an ultimate journey of escape. Thus as he seated akimbo subtly gazing at me, I unconcernedly strolled past him, negotiated through the tiny foot-ways separating the several dotted bungalow-Guest House buildings and found myself in the open main road linking the Lagos-Ibadan Highway adjacent the main bowl of the Camp praying arena. I then chose to enter the main bowl bearing in mind that any attempt to make an exit through the main gate would either attract undue attention, thereby revealing my escape motive, or face the risk of working into the waiting arms of mounted security officials.

Entering the main bowl which seems about a kilometer in length, I saw scanty number of people engaged in one activity or the other. I then approached one of them asked for direction for an alternative road to the expressway, to which he unhesitatingly pointed down south of the arena. Leaving the arena, I eventually joined the single lane road leading to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. At one of the shops dotted along the link road, I bought a white long sleeve shirt, which with the excuse of testing in the shop, became my new disguising attire.

Bursting out of the expressway I saw directly at the other side where I was supposed to board a commuter bus back to Lagos a Police Station. I was frightened momentarily but later summoned the courage to tread on, this time shifting further south from the point of my emergence to create a detour that relatively widened the distance from the Police Station, from where I made a daring lightening cross to the other side of the busy highway.

Soon after crossing I boarded a commuter bus popularly known as Danfo to the popular Berger Bus-Stop. From Berger Bus-stop I took another bus to Ojota Bus Stop. It was from there that I decided to seek refuge at the home of the late Uwolo of Ibusa, Chief Willy Ukadike Ikolodo whose wife—Madam Mojisola Ikolodo I believed would not hesitate to let me into her house. I had some few weeks past been in constant communication with her over a business deal I later found out to be a fraud artificially initiated by the DSS to construct a false allegation of cyber-crime activity against me; in the process of which I was ripped off the sum of thirty-five thousand naira.

Being that their accommodation is as massive as it is evidently protected from intruders, I decided to try my luck there. But what I forgot to note was that physical walls are never effective impediments to the deplorable actions of the DSS who possess the unrestricted reckless right to break into any form of fortification, if possible with the flagrant use of bulldozers. Moreover Mrs. Ikolodo appeared to be more vulnerable to DSS intervention than I previously thought, because being a major Federal Government contractor in-charge of the cleaning of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, a simple threat of having her contract revoked by the DSS could easily lead her to cave in to any order to hand me over or reveal my whereabouts.

On getting to Ojota, I boarded another commuter bus that took me to Ikeja where I stopped to throw away in desperation the little phone still with me which I believed had tracking potentials. I then bought an old out-dated analogue phone, which nevertheless I never used, as I left it together with my previous shirt while leaving Chief Ikolodo’s residence. From Ikeja I mounted the popular Molue re-modeled-lorry bus that plies Oshodi—Iyana Ipaja route, disembarking at Dopemu Bus-Stop, from where I joined the Akowojo link road, through which I eventually accessed her house. When I entered the house, she was markedly lost in thought over the distressed appearance I was wearing which was in total contrast to my formal gorgeous and chiefly appearance as the Odogwu of Ibusa, or a simple well-cultured middle-class attire of a University scholar. She might have equally noted my characteristic haggard-looking appearance in contrast to the busty stature I used to carry. I noticed that she was all the while gazing at me steadily with curious attention as we talked briefly with her emotionally-laden complaint that most of us who were her husband’s close friends and allies seemed to have deserted her ever since her husband died. She then took my cloth and phone and gave them to her daughter to keep in the room she had already ordered her to prepare for me.

But all the while I was not settled. I had looked at myself at the mirror at the Redeemed Camp Guest room and noticed that I was not only looking haggard but equally unattended with bushy hairs and thus needed to shave to reduce the level of unusual attentions my appearance usually attracted. She might have noticed that I was restless and was all the while sitting upright instead of reclining with ease on the large cushioned chair as would be expect of a highly exhausted man, hence she was all the while asking me what was the problem and I was telling her we would discuss later, a discussion that never took place.

As I sat uncomfortably with her, my unusual sign of approaching danger began to invade my spines and nerves. The more I sat down the more I became restless. Using the excuse to go and clean-up at the nearby barber’s shop and see my cousin at Kirikiri Mr. Augustine Enenmo who works as a Prison Officer, I bolted out of the house and into Akonwojo Street. I found myself trembling with fear as I suspected that the DSS might have marked out her residence as one of my possible havens in Lagos, having communicated with her lately. My next destination was Mile 2. It is striking to note that not long after leaving her house, Mrs. Mojisola Ikolodo was arrested by security agencies for harboring me. Her inability to produce me added to her woes when she was forced to pay the sum of two hundred thousand naira as a bail ransom to free herself. Unfortunately the poor woman neither knew my reason for dashing into her house nor my whereabouts after leaving her house.

On getting to Mile 2 Bus-Stop where I would then take a connecting commuter to Kirikiri, I developed the second thought of presenting myself to the Vanguard Newspaper News editor then Mr. Eze Anaba who was then a friend, to tell my story. Getting to the newspaper office, Mr. Eze Anaba did not hesitate to organize an interview for me over my ordeal. After the interview, due to excessive fatigue, I fell asleep on the reception sofa only to be awakened and consequently booted out of the compound with the allegation that I was a lunatic. All entreaties to the General Manager to consider my story fell on deaf ears. Mr. Anaba was helpless as he stood akimbo watching me booted out of the compound as a lunatic. Without having in mind where next to go, I found myself on the deadly streets of Lagos again that night.

To be continued from the book.

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