Written by Niyiola
Ecclesiastes by Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun, so maybe there is also nothing new about what happened to me…
Most security threats i’m told occur at home, at work/ school/ church and in transit. My experience occurred on my way home on a Tuesday evening in the Federal capital of Nigeria. I’d left the office and stopped to watch a movie and it was about 7.45pm. I had just reached the bus stop when a cab (we Abuja folks call along) stopped in front of me hailing my precise destination. “Just my luck”, I thought. You see even the price was the normal rate and without a second thought, I hopped into the cab’s front seat. Once I was in, I had one moment of doubt, as there were only 2 male passengers in the vehicle (but I shrugged it off as normal since it was not so unusual not to see female passengers). In hindsight that should have been red flag no 1, but I was so late and I was eager to get home.
Red Flag 2
These men stopped at bus stops calling for passengers. The seat was wet but I was given a rag immediately I complained. The driver explained apologetically that he had just washed his vehicle hence the wet seats. Ten minutes into the drive, the driver wound up his window (red flag 2). Before now, it had been the only open window letting in fresh air, but I assumed it was because the weather gets really chilly in the evenings. Anyway, I complained about the windows again and he wound them down again to calm me, but in another 5 minutes the windows were back up.
Fear like no other
Out of a growing sense of something being terribly wrong about me sitting in a wound up car with three men, I reached for the door. I swear I cannot remember what the passenger at the back said to me except that as I tried to open the cab door, I received a hot slap. When I screamed and fought back, I received more slaps and punches from the 2 men in the moving car. In my mind, I thought, “ I am not going down without a fight”. I fought, scratching, and screaming, but when I felt my breath leave me as one of the men squeezed my windpipe, I raised my hands in surrender. They didn’t stop hitting my face and by now, my jaw and nails were broken.
By this time, I was double scared, not sure if this was a robbery, a kidnapping, rape or a combination of any. The men kept shouting at me, angry that I had the balls to fight back. They drove into a quiet street and began the robbery in earnest.
A way out
Luckily, I had good money on me. I say this is lucky, because I had already been warned that if after all my fighting I had nothing pleasing to give them, I would have to find other ways to make my attackers happy. You and I can guess what they meant. They took all my money, my good phone but when I begged them, they gave me my sim card and my other torchlight phone. By now, they were chatting with me as if we were friends, telling me I should cooperate next time and I won’t be injured. “There will never be a next time”, I wanted to scream at them, but even if I had any courage left, my voice was already broken from them choking me. They dropped me off on another quiet road in Abuja and I used my torchlight phone to call one of my colleagues to come pick me. I was crying so hard that he barely heard my description of where I was, but he came to my rescue and dropped me at home.
I never thought this type of thing could happen to me. This might sound so cliché but like everyone else that has not experienced this, maybe you think this sort of thing cannot happen to you too. These men acted like it was nothing new, like they had done this before, like they would do it again. I wish they could be caught, but i was too battered to think about looking at their car’s plate numbers.
Right now, I am just grateful to God that I am alive. These days, I prefer to wait at the bus stops in the daytime till my head and heart is convinced that the vehicle in front of me is safe. Even then, I’m like a rabbit ready to spring out of the vehicle. I can’t sit between two passengers and any vehicle with only men is a big NO! I am still scared of public transportation, so at night, which now means latest 7pm for me, I take cabs only from taxi parks regardless of the cost (and pray every step of the ride for journey mercies).
YES I AM PARANOID and I don’t think I will ever let my guard down because now I know it is necessary in the world we live in.