On the 15th of January, 2010, I was in Benin and received a call from my boss.
We had a matter at the Court of Appeal, Jos (under which were then) and I needed to return to Yola to go and prepare for the hearing.
Actually, we had one on the 18th and another on the 20th of January, 2010. I left Benin for Jos and left for Yola on the 16th (a Saturday), went straight to the office to pick the file and my wig and gown. I went for Mass the next morning and by the time I got to “Sunshine Airport“ at Kofare, there was no vehicle. I went to Jambutu and got a vehicle. As we were leaving Gombe, my boss called but I could not hear what he was saying, so I said, “Sir, we just left Gombe. The trip has been smooth so far”.
As we got towards Bauchi, my sister in law,Hope Mejedo called me and asked what I was going to do as a result of the curfew. I told her not to worry as I would get home before the curfew (there was a curfew for 10 pm. I did not know that Baba Jang had just declared a 24-hour curfew).
As we got to welcome to Jos, there was a huge hold up. No vehicle was allowed to go inside Jos. We were all trapped, waiting for what next to happen. I knew going to Bauchi was not an option (I will rather kill myself than commit suicide).
As we were there, na so one babe control one officer for phone o. The guy come with full military escort come pick the girl (Chai, girls oppressing guys since 19-kiridim.)
The soldiers said they would drive us us away from that place once it got dark as they I not know who was who.
The driver that brought us turned back to Bauchi ,leaving us there.
Eventually the soldiers decided they were going to take us to “A” Division, besides Gbom Gwom’s palace. O, boy, na the first time I dey get military escort with siren o. I was feeling like a governor sef. See soldiers, “ikelebe” an Air Force dey form security cover for us. I now knew what those governors feel like.
Unfortunately for me, I have this habit of not eating when traveling, no matter the duration of the journey. Meanwhile, I bought some loaves of bread at Gombe to take to them in Jos and had dabino(date palm).
The military men put us in the available buses and took us all to the police station. The driver was a Berom man who worked with T.Y. Danjuma Foundation in Jalingo. As we were in the bus, the other guys on sleep. There were two Fulani men in the bus, so the driver said,” Bros, I no trust those people o. Abeg, try stay awake.” Me wey ordinarily no dey gree sleep? I do vigil o. If you know how cold Jos is in early January ehn…
The bread I had bought to do “saraba” at home, I just say make I form courtesy say, “see bread o”, bifor I know wetin wey happen, na only the cellophane remain for my hand.
Next morning, I woke up to go home. Meanwhile, my phone has died and my boss could not reach me. My other phone was this Zain ZTE customised phone that only used Zain sim card. My boss did not have that number as I hardly used it. It had only N2 in it but had free SMS to only Zain, so the only person I could communicate to were my bros and his wife. They had an idea of where I was and their minds were somewhat at rest.
The next morning, I was going out. The policemen at the gate shouted at me to go back inside. I stood at the gate post with them. As we were there, they brought in a guy was just got killed at the junction I was supposed to pass. The assailants were about to set his corpse on fire with the bike before the police rescued him.
Later, the cops gave us clearance to leave. I followed the bus guy and asked him to drop me at Secretariat Junction. It was easier to get Bukuru vehicle from there. From that side, it appeared nothing had happened, it seemed it was only Nassarawa Gwom, Anugwan Rogo and Congo-Russia that had the issue.
Got home and put my aggression on food and sleep. I knew that day was out.
Next day was Tuesday. I wanted to go to the Court of Appeal to find out how far, but something kept holding me back. I was feeling unusually lazy. Around 10 am, I got out of the gate to see what was happening and saw a lot of hausa and Fulani people fleeing from Anguwan Doki to Bukuru. We waited o. when we saw that the exodus was getting too much, we left the house and went to stay around the “B” Division headquarters at Bukuru. As we were there,see how dem dey use Hilux dey distribute guns. They set houses on fire, killed livestock and wrecked so much havoc.
We saw every house on our street in huge flames. The houses on either side of ours were set on fire. Somehow miraculously, the only house that survived on that street was ours. I think somehow, the reason was because it was owned by a hausa man from Kano and my bros was living there. When the Muslim dudes came, they left it because it belonged to their person. When the Christians came, they left it because their own person was living in there. You know how it feels seeing people you have live with for years setting fire to your house and you are watching helplessly. As we were there, one neighbour came and told us that our house was set on fire. I had ALL my original certificates in my bag (my oga documents no pain me sef). From where we were, we could not tell if our house was burning or not. I was so sad. After a while, we looked and saw our roof still shining. Then, when the assailants on both sides had finished and left. I moved (with a speed that Usain Bolt would envy) and quickly went to carry my documents in my “ekpo Jehovah” and went back to the place we were staying. Baby Megan was just about Six months old and you can imagine the cold in Jos at that time.
Even as we were in the police station, there attacked people. Luckily, one of our neighbours, Papa Saroh graciously asked us to come and stay in his house as he felt sorry for the baby. Na so we move go the guy house o. the guy has a beautiful daughter , Dr Member ,but fear no let me look her too much as we be IDP(Member and I had a good laugh over this years later) Every night, you go dey hear gunshots like ringtones o. See corpses for road, Bukuru market was raze down and looted. This was on Wednesday that the crisis peaked o. I had an interview in Bauchi on Saturday morning, meaning I had to leave Jos on Friday. There was a curfew from 5 pm to 10 am. Military men were making cash that period. Learnt of a man who hired soldiers to escort him up to Saminaka and he paid them 70k.
There were two other guys we were supposed to go together. We arranged to meet around Secretariat Junction. The problem was how to come out of Bukuru. No bi small thing. Saw a military man with a car and he asked me to pay N2k from Bukuru to Secretariat Junction (a trip of about N50 o). Luckily, I met a pastor who was going to NNPC Mega station and he gave me a lift. From there o, we begin navigate. Plateau Riders was locked. We had to pass through Farin Gada and Gada Biyu(crooked journey).
We made our way to the park in front of the mosque at Bauchi Road, near UJ Hostels. As we were standing outside, they were saying their prayers and we were wearing Polo shirts, with jackets and head warmers, carrying back packs, on our way to Bauchi. The river said it was remaining one passenger, but we told him not to worry as we would complete the money.(We did not want prayers to end an we were still standing there.(No time for long story) The vehicle left o and we went to Bauchi. Funny enough, we stayed in Yelwa area in Bauchi.
Only a few people understand the implication of leaving Jos during a crisis and going to stay in Yelwa of all places in Bauchi.
Next time I was in Jos was in October of that same year. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Came with a client for a meeting at Chief Offodile Okafor SAN’s office). It was a settlement meeting. A cheque of N2.5m was issue by the Respondent and handed to me. The client said he needed to see some people in Jos and I said ok. Later, as the guy no see me, e no see cheque, e on trigger my boss o. I went to see my friend Christie Hwyere AKA 2’Short (our CDS Financial Secretary) and she insisted there was no way I was leaving Jos on a Friday around 1pm, having to pass through Bauchi Road. She “seized” my bag, insisted I stayed in Jos till the next day and offered me accommodation. Having learnt from my experience earlier in the year, I oblige “shaperly” oo. I called my boss and told him I had been kidnapped by Berom people and I would be released the next day.
He said okay o, till I decide to come back to Yola