“Igoma, you must pull out now! The money here can assist you start a new life. And you can afford any house or care you desire, Otuma II is speaking to you,” the Otuma II is online again.
“That is not enough. I gave them seven demands to meet. Compensating Kongah community is just one of the seven.”
“Okuma Primary School will be up graded to a model school school. The Ukam bush will be cleared first thing this morning for the erection of a health centre. Contact is being made with key officials of PHCN to have electricity brought to our community starting this morning. A sight at the Kongah square has been designated for drilling of central borehole from where pipes will be channelled to all households in our community. You know all of the above can not be done in darkness. For instance, they need the daylight to dig holes for the electric before installing the wires for instance…”
“This is 12:45 AM. In the next six hours we shall know where Kongah community stands.” I cut in and the tone of my voice is of a mixed feeling. I drop the receiver. I pace around the telephone. The TV showing news around the world. Bremah stands at the door. The hostages lying faced down.
“Everyone should sleep and no one dare try any funny act in order not to put their life at risk.”
“Any green light?” Bremah inquires.
“Some green light, untill in the morning when we would know if it’s green or red they flash at us.” I move to a chair and take my seat. Bremah get sitted on the other chair meant for the teacher. A pang of hunger hit my stomach and I feel a bit drowsy. Now, if the rescure team should swoop down on us, we would be caught unawares like the two security personnel at the gate when we struck. I move at the sink by the wall and wash my face. As I come back, I whisper to Bremah each of us should catch a two-hour sleep starting with him. He reclines in the chair while I take position to keep vigilance. I turn down the volume of the TV as I pace about; I stop abruptly lighting j cigarette. I take a deep drag and puff away slowly. Then allowing more breath into my lungs. I step out pacing the corridor, but the bright lit enviroment sends some shivers down my spine as the apprehension of a sniper who might be hidden somewhere in the compound envelopes me. I drop the cigarette, crushing it on the floor and walk briskly back to the class-room. I turn off the TV likewise the light. The light outside cast a faint ray through the glass window. And I feel a bit at ease. I recline on the chair as Bremah drifts off to sleep.
The air-condition class-room is such a tranquilliser despite the ripped off section of the ceiling, the cool breeze blowing my face calms my nerve… The thought of knowing such comfort is within the soil of our community gives me a feeling of some sort of fulfilment, then it comes to my consciousness – a rude shock, that this present comfort is unaccessable by our people. But come to think of it, Driller Energy and their partner in progress are willing to amend and compensate for damages if one goes by what the Otuma II and my father have revealed. They must have value the lives of the employees, hence the prompt response.
I am in a tense situation. My whole being getting nervous again. I look forward to the break of dawn; my eyes heavy as the cool atmospheric class-room is driving me to sleep. I jerked out of my chair when one of the hostages calls out that he needs to ease off.
“What?” I am startled as I jeck out of the chair.
“I need to visit the convenience.”
I wake up Bremah so he can be at alert. He rubs his eyes and stands up moving towards the door; he backs the door. I ensure that he is fully awake and conscious. I call at the fellow.
“Get up, you.” I point at him. He gets up walking up to me.
“Stop!” I shout at him, “raise your hands. Now, you can move.”
I guard him behind as he walks into the convenience.
“Are you done?” I inquire after about a minute.
In the next few seconds, he comes out with his hands raised. We walk back. No sooner had we come back than most wished to visit the convenience. By the time the last hostage visited the convenience, forty minutes had gone. I make them feel at ease but keep my distance so I can watch them from where I am sitting.
I drift into sleep and out for the next one hour or there about. The time ticking away to dawn, and I recall the incident when mother had seen a black scorpion on the wall of our house; she had screamed scaring my heart to hell when I ran out and discovered it was a black scorpion. My heart calm. I picked up the black scorpion with my bare hand tactically, ensuring its raised tail was kept at bay. It found itself into an old use bourvita can I made some openings on to allow in air. The next day, the black scorpion was with me at Okuma Primary School. Then, I was in primary six. After the morning assembly, I had let the black scorpion out of the can holding it in my hand; the whole school was turned in to a cacophony of a sort and I became centre of attraction.
“He’s holding a scorpion.” a pupil had screamed.
“Scorpion! Scorpion!” another had run out to draw the attention of the teachers.
I scared the whole pupils and the teachers alike. Later I was reprimanded by the headmaster never to bring scorpion to school. Thereafter, the name stuck and among the pupils, scorpion became my name…
All of a sudden, a shadow casts against the window; I am on the alert for any offensive and I see it coming. I fling myself on the hostages for cover, the soldier shoots simultaneously: Pow! Pow! Pow! In the process, I break my left arm having landed on the left side. The rifle still handy. I searched for Bremah, but he is nowhere to be found. He rushes out from the convenience and fires at the retreating shadow. Pow.Pow.Pow.Pow.Pow. Shattering the glass window in the process. The hostages screaming for their lives. I order everyone of the them to situp as I maintain my distance nursing my broken arm. I remove my singlet, and tear it in a sling for my dislocated left arm.
One of the hostages who happens to be a medical doctor of the clinic in Driller’s Quarters volunteers to help set my arm and put it in the sling. Bremah watching him warily. And my gun handy. The pain so excruciating though I restrain myself screaming from the pain. He wraps my elbow with a piece of cloth knotting the ends and put my forearm in the sling. The pain reduces and I offer my appreciation to the medical doctor. He retreats and joins his colleagues. I sits, on the barefloor as the hostages, apart from them. Bremah joins me, for that is a bit safe to avoid the invader; and we stay put ready to reply any aggression. He sits watching the windows on the right – the shattered windows. I watch the windows on the left side while the hostages whom we have sat with, form as a barrier to the invading soldiers. We sit waiting for any shadow to appear on the window. We waited. The retreating soldier, perhaps never returns as the situation seems complicated – the lives of the hostages on line.
We wait for a shadow to appear on the window, it never came. Then, when we thought all has calm down, a canister shoots it way through the window as it shatters the window in the process. The pieces of glass flying helter-skelter. Before I could stand up, the peppery-cloud of smoke has covered the whole air. I grab one of the hostages and order another to move ahead of me. Bremah orders more three hostages to move. As we make our way to escape the light goes out. We become lost. Bremah seaches his pocket and fetches a lighter and clicks it, light prouts out and we move towards the library through the inner corridor. As we make to enter the library, a bang is heard: Boom! And the door is blown open. We see the soldiers in gas masks rushing in as they flash torch lights, freeing the rest of the hostages. The soldiers have succeeded in cutting off the sources of power, and everywhere dark: total blackout.
In the upheaval, we safely move into the library: Bremah and I and five hostages – three men and two women. The rest freed. Intensive search is on as the soldies try to locate us. They are more aggressive this time moving closer to us in the library.
“This way… There is an underground room here.” one of the hostages leads the way into an underground whose door is neatly hiden by a bookshelf. With the lighter we find our way through the underground. The male hostage leading fetches his mobile phone and switches the torch as we make our way to the basement.
Bremah had dragged the others with him when we were fleeing from the rescured soldiers. In all, we have five of them.
As we are secured in the basement waiting for the break of dawn, we could hear the soldiers breaking into the library in search of us. We waited and waited till a cock crows signifing the break of dawn. I collect the mobile phone from the hostage to check the time: 6.07 AM.