This story came to me after a conversation with my friend, Tolu Adeleru of Nigeria Info. NB: This is Fiction.
Friday – October 3, 2012.
Chudi was getting dressed. Today had been a day of mixed feelings. Two lists had come out at work, two very significant lists. The first was a 115man list, announcing disengagement of staff. The other, the promotion list had just fifty names. His name was on the latter, but a lot of his friends were on the former, hence he really couldn’t celebrate his promotion at work. He intended to celebrate it tonight however and had called up his guys Moody and Kess. Kess was the organizer, and he had promised three hot Unilag girls for the occasion. He linked up with them at New Hall in Unilag and his jaw nearly dropped. The girls were kum faya kum, as he liked to say. He quickly took charge of the one with the ukwu of life. Tonight was going to be the night men.
Minutes later, they were out of the Unilag gate and racing towards the new improved Road Runners. This was the first time he was going to the club since they had added the top floor to the building and men, it would seem half of Lagos was here. It took them a good fifteen minutes before the found a parking spot along the road. He still had to wait for Kess for another five minutes before they were set to go in. the bouncers hailed them as they went in and Chudi, feeling generous tonight squeezed a thousand Naira bill into one of their hands and the moment they saw it, they three their hands in the air, stomping their feet in salute. Then the first explosion rocked from within. Then the gunshots began. That was the last thing he remembered.
Saturday – October 4
Boko Haram releases Youtube video, taking responsibility for the attack on Road Runners
On the news, the death toll is reported at fifty.
On the ground, two hundred people are dead.
Sunday – October 5
Deacon Lazarus Duncan was preparing to read the announcements. Pastor’s message today had been the usual Five Ps of Prayer types. Even though he, a deacon of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Surulere Baptist Church was bored with the message, since he sat on stage, he had to act the part of an attentive deacon. He had perfected the art of falling asleep while looking attentive, and relying on the cue of congregational responses to wake him up.
As he gathered his agbada to go and pick the microphone, he rehearsed the joke he would use as an icebreaker in his head. Today, it was going to be the one about Songs of Solomon he would use. The thought froze in his heard as the explosion occurred, and the flames raced towards him. Hell had come down into the church of God.
That afternoon, the reports were that Boko Haram had struck in coordinated attacks in four churches in Lagos – Surulere Baptist Church, The Latter Rain Assembly, The Redeemed Christian Church of God Christ Church and St. Dominics Catholic Church. Death toll at the time of the report was put at 1,250, with another 4,000 injured.
Sunday – October 4 – 6:00PM
Governor Fashola came on TV and condemned the attacks, calling on the police to fish out the perpetrators
Monday – October 5 – 8:00AM
President Goodluck Jonathan released a press statement, condemning the dastardly act and promising to leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to book.
Monday – October 5 – 8:00AM
In Igbobi College Yaba – Notice on the school notice board
We, the true worshippers of the prophet warn you to stop attending the school of the great Satan, for we have declared Jihad on it. Be warned and stay in your houses. Abu Qaqa.
All over Shomolu Local Government Area, such notices were pasted on the school notice boards. Most of the pupils didn’t know how to find their way home. Pandemonium as the news filtered through twitter. But twitter is blocked in the offices of most of their parents. So they did not know. The police was overwhelmed with the number of schools and deployed sparsely, overstretched.
When Boko Haram struck, they came to four schools. Igbobi College Yaba. The police there were quickly overpowered and the militants were about to gain entry when they were engaged by soldiers from Mayon Barracks, directly opposite the school. In the firefight, 100students died. 25 Boko Haram Members were killed, and 5 soldiers lost their lives.
The other schools were not so lucky to be located near an army barracks. At the popular Our Lady of Apostles School, after a brief shootout, the policemen took to their heels. Their bullets had no effect on the fighters, and the fighters mowed them down. The girls were lined up, stripped and their necks slit brutally. 250 of them. It was the same story at Queens College, Yaba and CMS Grammar School.
The total death toll of this attack – 700students, 74teachers, 100policemen, 50Boko Haram fighters and 5soldiers.
Tuesday – October 6
Parents refuse to allow their children go to school all over Lagos. Teachers stay at home too and do not come to schools.
President Jonathan deploys Joint Task Force to Lagos, and roadblocks are set up all over the town, at virtually every major junction.
Wednesday – October 7 – 10PM.
Boko Haram fighters break into the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons and free the inmates, killing all the wardens and police in the process. No single Boko Haram Fighter lost his life in this attack.
Saturday – October 10
JFT and Police go on a joint operation into the Idi Araba area. They have received intelligence reports that many of the Boko Haram Fighters pose as Okada Riders by day.
After the fighting, 50 students at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital as well as 10 doctors are dead. JTF recovers a cache of weapons including AK-47s, RPGs and IEDs. 150 Boko Haram Members are arrested, and a leader of the sect is killed. Every news organization carries the news in a celebratory victory mood. Very few question the extent of collateral damage. Only the Okada riders see this. After the JTF leaves, Boko Haram members come in and recruit the survivors for an operation.
Wednesday – October 14 – 6:00AM
The Idi Araba riders who lost their families, homes and means of livelihood to the raid and now a part of Boko Haram returned to their community. They went straight to the houses of the four JTF informants, and killed every living thing in the houses.
Wednesday – October 14 – 7:15PM
A trailer has fallen across the 3rd Mainland Bridge and massive traffic has built up, from the big Star billboard all the way to Obalende. Tempers are flaring and horns are blaring. Suddenly, the trailer explodes, destroying the bridge at that point. The flames engulfed the row of five cars closest to it and several rows further, the glass from the mirrors and windscreen shattered and flew all over like shrapnel.
As soon as that signal was given, four other cars, in the traffic at different points exploded and the carnage was devastating.
Wednesday – October 14 – 10:30PM
Five container ladden trailers parked in front of Mayon Barracks. The area boys were following its movement, to know where it would park so that they could go and collect their “boys money” once they stopped finally.
Suddenly, the the container doors flew open and armed fighters jumped out of them and poured into the barracks. The soldiers were caught totally unawares and the militants were armed with sophisticated assault rifles and Rocket Propelled Grenades. They overran the barracks.
By the time JTF reinforcements arrived, they had killed 400Soldiers, their wives and their children. Then they herded the rest into the armory, from the officers down to the lowest recruit and then they blew themselves and everyone else up.
That night, Boko Haram released a video stating that they had exacted vengeance for their members killed in the Idi Araba raid by JTF.
After this incident, JTF went brutal on Lagosians.
I have painted the pictures above vividly, because I observed that we the Lagos based middle class cannot understand what life is in places like Maiduguri. I have not done a complete job, merely selected certain reported instances of Boko Haram hits and translated to Lagos settings and scaled up casualty figures for population differences. What I have done is to attempt to burst our bubble, and make this threat a real, living threat to us. WE NEED TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM NOW, DEMAND THAT OUR LEADERS FACE IT WITH ALL SERIOUSNESS AND SOLVE THE PROBLEMS. This is what life is like for people in certain areas of this country, on a daily basis. I lived briefly in Yobe during my NYSC and visited Maiduguri. When I hear about the attacks, they are locations I once walked in, lived in and knew well. I worshipped in some of the churches hit in Damaturu. They are very real to me, and I can’t help but wonder if I would react differently and more seriously if I still lived there, unable to leave, unable to escape.