I hands the mobile phone back to him and asks him to call his superiors. He dials the keys and it begins to ring on the other ride. I collect it from; the person from the otherside picks it.
“Kongah Igoma, on the line. You have one hour left… You must start effecting our demands right now. And you must withdraw the troops. We still have five of your people with us. You are endangering their lives as you push us to the wall…”
“We have mobilized workmen on sites…” the Driller Energy chairman is heard saying, when I cut in, “You have one hour to set to work.”
I cut the call.
We settle in the basement. I flash the mobile phone torch, at one corner of the basement are three sets of sofa, on a table by the sofas, lies a book. A plasm TV hangs on the wall. I flash the torch further as I grasp the size of the basement – a standard room.
Bremah and I separate the settees – one against two in opposite direction. Bremah and I sit on one while the hostages on the other two facing us. The basement does not appear stuffy, but its lukewarm keeps us waiting for the deadline… And we waited…
The sound of the ring-tone of the mobile phone startles me as it rings and I jolt out of the sofa and grab it from the table: “Who’s on the line?” I inquire.
“This is the chairman online. The soldiers have retreated. We have set men on the sites to get your demands effected; work has started. As I speak now, the Otuma II and his council men are here with me.”
“What and what have you put in place to meet our demands?”
“Every aspect of the demand is being taken care of… You and your man should free the rest of the hostages, whom I understand are five in number. We do not wish to lose any of them, hence, Kongah is beginning to wear a new look. Take my word. We can’t afford to stop our facilities from operating for a single day. We are losing millions of dollars already because of some few hours of restiveness… I urge you to free the hostages and let’s there be peace in the land of Kongah.”
“The hostages will be freed in the next one hour provided that your word is your bond. We want a new Kongah where what is due us will be accorded to the people of Kongah; a new Kongah where the people will have fair control in their resources other than savaging in the midst of what could better their lives; a new Kongah where we can have a sense of belonging and lead a normal live.”
“All that have been taken into cognizance and you should take our word for it.”
“If I should take you for your word, we will free the hostages in the next one hour. I promise, provided you keep to the bargain.”
“I will keep to it.”
“Then in the next one hour, you will receive your people in good health.” I drop the phone on the table with the mobile phone torch still on.
I pace about as the hostages stare at me critically. I settle down on the sofa and rest my head on my right palm, thoughts running through my head… The hostages have been cooperative though right from the on set and I wonder if they were this benevolent, why would they chose to wreck havoc in the first place.
The news that we would free the hostage in the next one hour has flown round Kongah community and beyond such that people are beginning to throng towards Driller’s Quarters with security forces standing at strategic points to forestall any unhealthy incident.
The appointed time comes up. Bremah and I brace up. I hang the rifle on my right shoulder, my left arm in a sling and I order the five hostages to climb the stairs out of the basement to the library. Bremah clings to his AK 47. We all walk out of the basement flashing the mobile phone torch to fine our way.
The bright rays of the sun through the windows heat us as we step into the library. Some books on the bookshelves scattered here and there. An empty canister lies on the floor. We walk through to the corridor down into the air-conditione class-room; we see the shattered glass windows on both sides of the walls; we see the ripped off ceiling section; and we see the blown off door…
And we walk out of the class-room and out of the building into the large compound. The whole place deserted. We move towards the big, large gate. We can hear voices of people from a distance. The hostages are in the middle as Bremah awd I walk beside them on their right and left respectively… We walk in that form as the gate is thrown wide open before we could get to it.
Men in uniform, the security forces are everywhere in their number. Some journalists are already taking historic pictures of us emerging from the Driller’s Quarters. From a distance the people of Kongah are thronging to catch a glimpse of us, not beyond the barricade set by the soldiers and the police. And I can perceive we have been surrounded systematically by the security forces. We stop abruptly.
“I wish to speak to the chairman of Driller Energy and the head of security operation,” I said amid too many eyes that centre on us.
“I am Lt Col Panwa. I am in charge of the Task Force. You must surrender your weapons, now!”
The Lt Col and his men accost us. I hand over my double rifle to him, and Bremah does the same. He receives the hostages in good health. The Lt Col speaks again: “Igoma, we are glad that you finally free the rest of the hostages and have handed over your weapon to me. And also your friend…”
He turns to Bremah.
“Bremah.” I inform him.
“Yes, Bremah who also has handed over his weapon.” He steps aside as a stern looking police man comes up and said: “The both of you have to follow us to the station, you have some questions to answer.”
He brings out a handcuff, it grips my right wrist and cuffed together with my left wrist, the one in the sling. Bremah wrists are in cuff too.
Someone amongst the crowd is shouting at the top of his voice… “Igoma and Bremah, you guys are our heros.”
“We love you from the bottom of our hearts.” Another is heard saying.
“Freedom to Kongah Community,”
We are urged to move towards a packed security van. As I walk I raise my both hands making a V sign with my right index and middle fingers. We climb onto the van.
A section of the youths has started singing and stamping their feet on the ground and making towards the road to thwart the security men from taking us away and I see the imminent danger lurking. I draw the attention of the youths. They need to hear some words from me, and I speak to them as they listen: “My fellow youths of Kongah, I salute you all. You are true sons of the land and have shown solidarity so great that my heart is overwhelmed knowing that you are strongly behind us. The cause we are after is for the benefit of the land and the people. Kongah shall ever be free and what is due us will be accorded us. We shall return to Kongah where we all will live in peace and harmony. Freedom to the people.” I make a V-sign with my right index and middle fingers. The youths erupt in thunderous cheers.
They make way for the van as they continue with song and dance. The van speeds up the road passing throngs of people on the road as everyone wants to catch a glimpse of us – their new heros.
The van slows down along Okuma Primary School, we see the school has began to be upgraded and work in progress to erecting a model school in its place. The van takes off again along Ukam road, and stops as two other vans behind follow suit. The battle ready security forces alight from the vans; as we disembark, we see work men digging the foundation for the health centre.
More people are curious to catch a glimpse of us; they close in to glance at us, their new folk herous.
We climb onto the vans. Bremah and I still in cuffs. The vans speed towards Kongah Square. At the square, work is on for the water project. Otuma II and his council men staring at us in awe, so stun that none can utter a word.
The vans leave the square and speed along Kongah road that leads to the state capital. As the van conveying Bremah and I is in the middle now, the one in front and behind us are crammed up with security men such that some of them are sticking their head out of the van warding off in coming vehicles. We see PHCN trucks with electric poles heading to Kongah for the electrification.
A new sort of triumph encompasses me; a kind similar to when one wins an accolade and you want to honour the inspiration behind such feat. And in this case it is Mr Moore the CEO of Driller Energy… Ella, wherever she is now may have me preoccupied in her heart as her hero for bringing positive changes in Kongah community.