By Okey Muogbo
An average Nigerian living in Nigeria can guaranteed a number of things but excluding the most important thing –the safety of his or her life. That is how terrible it is to live in Nigeria today. It is obvious that the jungles of Africa, nay Nigeria, of the 12th Century is certainly safer than the modern Nigerian society. In the pre-colonial days, it was the typical jungle of nature where the fittest survived but in the Nigeria today, even the strongest and most active are imperiled by the lawlessness that reigns compounded by terrorism, banditry and hired assassins. In the pre-civilisation era, the strong defend themselves and protect the weak, women and the children but today’s security crisis has severely exposed the women, the very great treasure every society protects at a great cost.
Stories reeled almost every day by women who have gone through the ordeal of being kidnapped are so pathetic and heart-rending. What chance does a woman stand against a horde of male kidnappers and rapists? None at all, except when the Almighty shows mercy on such women.
And so it was for Mrs. Onuigbo Nnenna, a career public servant in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and mother of 2. The period she spent in the hands of the kidnappers were hellish. Though she survived to tell her story which many do not, her life has never been peaceful since then. She tells her story of ordeal that has since taken away her boisterous life leaving her a total psychological wreck.
“It was on 18April 2019, Thursday before Good Friday. I left from work and was returning home around 8 in the evening. I got home, came down from my car to open the gate to my compound. I drove in and was about to get out of the car to close the gate, when a man rushed in and pushed the door back to me. He blocked me and used something like a black tape to tie my mouth. Immediately he ordered me to move to the back seat of the car. I started pleading with him that I could not move to the back of the car from inside, between the two front seats because the space is too small for me to pass through, that he should allow me to come down and then move to the back seat but he refused. He refused apparently because he didn’t want me to come out so that people would not know what was going on. I instantly knew I was being kidnapped and started shivering.
At that point, his other two companions, one with a gun pointing at me and the other already at the back seat of my car, started dragging, beating, chocking, hitting me very hard, and trying to force me to the back seat. While the other one that tied my mouth was standing by my door pushing my legs in and ordering the one with the gun to shoot me if I am not complying. They were pulling and twisting my neck. I was struggling to get away and press the car horn, but all my effort to defend myself was rendered powerless by the noise from the generator in front of my house, which made it impossible to attract any attention. The one that appears to be the leader of the group even threatened me over and over and saying that the noise from the generator won’t allow anybody to hear me. I tried to scream, but the sound was muffled by the tape they used to cover my mouth.
I was praying for God’s intervention as that was the only thing I could do at the time.Following the relentless beating they had given me, I became too weak. My head was broken, I was bleeding heavily from the many cuts on my head and I passed out. They dragged me inside the booth of my car, reversed and started driving towards the gate.
It was a divine intervention because I was later told that a neighbor’s apprentice who had noticed that I was under attack alerted his master. The man had courageously ran and locked my gate. This prevented the kidnappers from driving my car out with me in the booth. When they got to the gate, they saw that it had been locked from the outside. It was at that point that they jumped the fence and ran. That was how I was rescued from them, otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to me and my family.
My husband with neighbours brought me out of the booth with blood all over me. He took me to the emergency hospital where I was treated and later when I had gotten strength, I went to the police station to file a report. I had 4 cuts on my head and required stitches.”
Escaping the kidnappers was one thing and like all victims, Nnenna has had to cope with post-kidnap ordeals. She has been threaten her for venturing to report the attack to the police. That has made life too unbearable so far. The police has not come up with anything tangible since then and that is why Mrs Nnenna is in a quagmire on how she would survive this ordeal.
Speaking on her dealing with the police, she said, “Actually, they have not done anything. I made my statement. And I pleaded that they should provide me with police security for a while because I was so traumatized, but they said they can’t give me police security, that the only thing they can do is to mount a stop-and-search operation close to my house which they have not done till date.”
That is in addition to the fact that no arrests have been made so far and no concrete effort to contain the suspicious calls and movements around her.
On whether the kidnappers have been trailing her in any form since then, she said, “Yes, there was a day I saw somebody that stopped from a bike he looked at me somehow but later moved away. I later reported this to the police and nothing came out of it.
Another one is that I have received telephone call from hidden number once. I picked the call thinking it was normal call only for me to hear the caller telling me, “you think you are smart, you will definitely get us” and hung up. After receiving a number of such calls, I stopped answering calls from unknown numbers.”
In the meantime, Mrs Nnenna said “I disguise myself most of the time I go out including going to work. I don’t go out again when it is dark. The beating keeps coming up in my memory every time and once it happens, I get frightened and disorganized easily. This trauma has affected my general health. I have tried to push it away but it keeps coming up again and again. Since that day, I stopped driving my personal car and I have not driven it till date. Because of that, I have drastically cut my movements including going for evening church programs. If a car or bike man passes by my side, I panic. Everybody is a suspect to me now”, she said of a new life that is hardly worth living.