Behind The Headlines


Haven’t posted fiction in a while here as I’ve been working to get Guardians of the Seals ready. But had to write this. Behind the headlines that overwhelm us daily, are people. And they hurt.



Cora Pam clutched her phone in a tight grip, as if it would also up and go away from her. She fought the tears, and chastised herself for thinking the thoughts that ran riot through mind. But try as she did, she could not help it. Her husband, Yakubu, had been away for over a year in Borno State, fighting Boko Haram. Initially, she had been strong. They spoke daily over the phone and she did not miss him so. But after the telecommunications blackout on Borno was announced, the calls had become few and far between. Each time her phone rang and it was her husband’s number, she felt a mix of joy and trepidation. He risked his life for each of those calls. But he said he had to make them; they made his hardship bearable. And, even if she would not like to admit it, it filled a gnawing ache in her. “Mama, they are here,” a male voice that had just discarded the last vestiges of puberty announced. She smiled at her last child. He had his father’s eyes and easy smile. She gathered herself together to go and meet her soon-to-be in-laws, alone again. Forget the needs of the Nigerian state, Cora needed her husband more.


One Month Later

Major Yakubu Pam was unable to sleep. His first daughter would be getting married in a week and his boss was yet to approve his leave of absence.

“Yak,” Colonel Adamu “Sherman” Shelleng had responded when he put what was is third request, “you are a senior member of this team. You know we need you now more than ever, for the morale of the men.” If Shelleng meant that to be jocular, it sounded hollow to Yakubu.

“Yes, but my family also needs me. This is my first daughter’s wedding, and I should be the one giving her away. When I’m not dead, how can someone else be giving my daughter away?”

The Colonel changed his tone. “Chief, you are an officer and you know what you signed up for. I will bring this up with the commander, but I know what his response will be already”

“Thank you sir,” Yakubu had responded and then left, seething. How could he be asking for something that was his right and be treated like this? He stood up and began to do pushups. The physical activity always calmed him down.


Two days later, the response Yakubu had been waiting for came. “Why did you let yourself hope, foolish Yakubu!” he said to himself angrily. But as if to add insult to his injury, he had been ordered to go and perform a mop-up operation in the border town of Bama after news filtered that Boko Haram had struck in the area, killing at least 200 villagers. It irked him that they always seemed to get “intelligence” of Boko Haram attacks after the fact, whereas Boko Haram had ambushed them severally, pointing to the insurgents having prior knowledge of the army movements. It also irked him that whilst they did not have network connection to make phone calls, the Boko Haram leader was able to find enough to upload his videos on the internet. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became.

“At least you can phone them at the border today,” his deputy tried to comfort him as they moved out.


News Headlines The Next Day

Boko Haram Insurgents Ambush Troops In Bama, Borno State, Killing 50.

Mutiny! Soldiers in Maimilari Barracks, Angered After Seeing The Bodies Of Their Comrades Returned, Shoot At Their Commander

Bomb blast kills 30 Muslims in Kaduna North


Yakubu arrived in Kaduna in the early hours of the dusty Saturday morning. He had driven himself all the way. After the unrest in the barracks, precipitated by the disaster that their Bama mission had turned out to be, his leave had finally been approved expressly. Before the ambush on their return trip to Maiduguri, he had called his family to tell them he would not be coming for the wedding. He imagined the delightful surprise his appearance in full traditional attire would be for his wife and daughter. He went to a hotel thirty minutes from the church, and took a short nap.

He woke up like clockwork an hour later, feeling refreshed. For the first time in over a year, he took a long, hot bath, allowing the water to seep into every pore. Initially, he rushed to put his clothes on.

“You are not at the front, Yakubu. Calm down man,” he said to himself, laughing. Thirty minutes later, the Major was transformed to the agbada wearing Ngas man.


The months at the front had heightened Yakubu’s senses. And as he approached the church now, he knew something was wrong. It was too quiet. The gates were wide open. He quickly jumped out of the car and raced up to the door as fast as his agbada would allow him. His worst nightmare lay in front of the altar.


News Headlines The Next Day

Boko Haram Kidnaps 200girls in Chibok

Bloody Wedding: Muslim Youths Murder Guests in Kaduna Wedding


29 thoughts on “Behind The Headlines

  1. This story rings so true that i’m not sure I can click the ‘Like’ button. Your delivery of it is brilliant as usual but the number of sighs I had to take while reading, the number of attacks that came to mind while guessing which one you were writing about made this story one of the saddest fictions I’ve read in a while, not even sure it reads like fiction to me.
    I guess we will keep praying & mounting pressure on the government to handle this insurgency & make Nigeria safe again(at least to a large extent).
    Good job Sir. Keep up the good work.

    • Wow!!!!!!!! Longtime no read,Mondays haven’t exactly been the same. Good to have you back TL(no stalking). Let me read the story

  2. I was struggling not to shed tears as I read this cuz I was in a public place.Its so so easy for us to read and hear news and forget about the untold suffering,the emotional upheaval people are going through.These people that are affected daily didn’t drop from the sky,they are people with family, someone’s son,daughter,brother,sister,husband,wife,friend,colleague.
    It saddens that the innocent gets to suffer for what they know nothing about.

  3. Sigh! So much bad news everywhere! It’s like one should not even turn on the radio or TV! Unfortunately, ignorance in this particular case is not bliss 😦

  4. I think this story is more factual than fiction. This insurgency thing isn’t funny at all. These days I’m so scared to even read the news cuz its one blood bath after the other. The masses are dying and it looks like nothing is being done. All we can do is pray our leaders do something,in the meantime I’ll just keep hoping and praying.@TL, to think that I woke up with the mind to haunt and disturb you till you post something. Thanx for this piece.

  5. So much bad news everywhere in Nigeria. A story dt saddens the heart and reminds one of the suffering, heartache and misery so many family have gone thru, is going tru and fear. To even think that so far govt av done particularly Notin 2 curb dis insurgents

  6. Tunde I’v got tears in my eyes ryt now. Not just ‘cos of this story bt ‘cos of AJ’s pix here. AJ sat wit me in primary 2 when we attended St. Louis primary school n was my friend n brother till his death. I fully understand Yakubu’s state of mind.
    I pray everyday the good Lord saves Nigeria from this BH issue.

  7. I can’t start imagining what people are going through mostly those who live around these area where this terror act are being committed.i pray for Nigeria,peace be still

  8. Its so sad what our beloved n ones peaceful country is turning into,my heart goes out to all the military wives whom are left behind by there husbands.Prayers n hoping is all we are left with!

  9. Sweet Lord Jesus have mercy! Where’s the love and peace we once knew and revelled in??? However did we get here??? Who’ll come to our aid to save us now??? Any hope of a better future??? God help and save Nigeria from Nigerians, may it be well with us IJN, Amen! *sighs*

    A gripping piece! Blood-curdling, Heart-wrenching, Soul-dipping, Gut-twisting, Nerve-wracking, Mind-bending, Bone-chilling; just plain sad and disheartening! The days are soo evil and gets even more so with each passing day. A very smooth job you did here TL, you’re kind of a big deal, scratch that! You’re a HUMONGOUS deal! You’re too much! Thanks for this Sir and God bless ya.

  10. Hmmmmnnn anoda deep story. At firs I thot Tlsplace deleted me from their list cos I wasn’t getting anymore updates. Thumbs up Tunde

  11. O MY GOODNESS! And to think he was so happy he was going to attend his daughter’s wedding at last. Hmmm, I pray God comforts everyone who has lost a loved one in this war that is so on called for. And good to know that you are back with your brilliant writings sir.

  12. *sigh*™ I don’t think I’ll ever be used to seeing Nwakile’s photos & posts like this. Sometimes the news of boko haram & the crisis in the North sound like fiction until someone you know loses their life.

  13. I wasn’t around during the South African ‘black days’ but my poetry class in high school did a good job of painting a vivid picture of what life in Soweto could be.
    I couldn’t help but do a comparism with the Nigerian situation as I read through this piece. When will this madness come to an end, somebody please provide an answer.
    TL stirred up some emotions in me with this piece.
    God help Nigeria.

  14. My heart bleeds as i see how mankind has turned on its own. Believe me,it hurts so much the way people are killed so senselessly. Who did they offend? What crime did they commit by being Nigerians??? God has saved people i know whenever these killings occur and i jubilate but what about those that lost loved ones……My heart bleeds so much and goes out to anyone that has lost people they care for. The wicked will definitely reap his/her reward as God is a God of Justice. Thank you Tunde for reminding us to be grateful and to consider those in pains also.

  15. This actually isn’t fiction anymore but hard truth,it’s really sad what some of our troops are going through. Wish this was like the Old days were kings(leaders/presidents/governors/chairmen) led their soldiers to war and not sit in castles dishing out orders and condemning every attack like a default message…………………Nigeria!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where lies thy sigh?

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