Monday, 28 February 2011

I'M CURRENTLY READING...

Touch of Heaven (Kimani Romance)Touch of Heaven by Maureen Smith




Panning out nicely, makes me want to find out more. I'm savouring the story build up.



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ARMED ROBBERY - MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE - PART 4

This is the concluding part of the sour experience I went through in the hands of several men armed with guns. These men operating in the dark night weren't afraid to pump live bullets into the sky.

We huddled around the caricature fire that the male passengers had cleverly put together in the cleared area of the deep forest along the Benin-Lagos express road. One after the other, we reflected on the simple truth that we had just gone through the valley of the shadow of death but had come out alive.

Then suddenly, we began to hear unmistakable sounds...

A hush fell on each passenger as we imagined that the sinister men had staged a grand return. We held unto one another. Palpable fear was clearly written on our faces. As we tried to make out the distinctive noise, the sound grew louder, stronger and more consistent. It was the sound of continuous round of gun shots coming from the convoy of commercial, long distance, luxurious buses that had moble policemen on board.

Oh! So, we (scared and scarred innocent passengers) have become the enemy!

Where were the policemen when we were being skinned alive and robbed silly?
In other words, after the hiace bus that had been travelling behind us had gone back to report a robbery incident at Ore depot (a busy stopover point along the Benin-Lagos express road) all traffic from Lagos ceased. So, the buses formed a convoy at Ore so that they could combine their response to take on the robbers after endless hours!!!

Anyway, we had to again 'relocate', moving deeper into the forest so as not to get hit by stray bullets. How could they be directing their shots at the forest, not knowing that innocent passengers were trapped in the thick bushes overnight, afraid to continue the journey?

To compound our stress, pain and trauma, we had to endure the repeated sound of machine gun non-stop from the early hours of the morning till six in the morning. We cringed and panicked each time the sound went off. It was frightening...scary...and diabolically unsettling. Add to that terrible sound, the blood curdling noise of wild beast in the forest that one passenger identified could be a wolf!

And so, we endured the nightmare of keeping awake, dodging live bullets, enduring the consistent bullet sounds as if we were in an active war zone. Who wanted to die from stray bullets? None of the passengers wanted to be killed by policemen bullets after being saved from robbers live ammunition by divine intervention.

Then, I recalled the gang leader's order at the foot of the mountain when he'd his gun behind my back, just before he set me free.


He'd said 'run into the forest...otherwise, you'll get yourself killed!' At that time
(hours earlier), I didn't understand what he meant. As far as I knew, he (the armed robber) was the only armed man in the environ.

In other words, the robbers knew that as soon as they strike on the road, traffic stops until they are through and then the mobile policemen would begin to release bullets from the on-coming luxurious buses...and I could get caught up in the cross fire.

What a perfect plan! I find myself wondering how gun men could hold a bus plying a dual carriage express road hostage for over three hours without response from police?

Read the after effect of this and another similar incident on me in my follow up story.

If you've got any robbery experience, please share it with our readers. I believe it's definitely therapeutic. I felt weighed down for many years unable to recount the details of this experience to family or friends. But now that I've found the exact words...I'm deeply relieved.

And, I don't hold any grudges at all to the men who felt pushed to inflict bodily harm and mental torture on me and on other innocent people because, they need help rather than condemnation.

I would be truly fulfilled if just one robber ever came across this piece of writing and felt touched enough to drop their arms. Armed robbers have a way of escape. God calls them to repentance...and to follow a whole new way of life. God loves each one of them and He would want them to come to him and He would forgive them, giving them a new life in Christ Jesus.



Our Promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.

Friday, 25 February 2011

ARMED ROBBERY - MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE PART 3

I landed on the level ground cluttered with tree stumps. As I stumbled against the huge, frightening trees that had gigantic caves within, I breathe a wonderful sigh of relief. I said a triple prayer of thanks to God. As far as I was concerned, I'd gotten away lightly from the fiercesome grip of the gun men. What if the gang leader had pulled the trigger behind me?

I shivered as that knowledge left me terrified. Freedom had never felt so dramatic and painful! Just as I thought of how amazing it felt to be all alone at the forest top, a silhoutte of human flesh whizzed past me. I screamed out in pure fright. 'Not another group of armed men again'? I wailed in my mind. I wasn't sure I would survive another round of captivity and brutality. Then, I heard a voice say, 'I'm the driver!'

'The driver?' I shrilled in panic or was it in disgust? But definitely not in sympathy or solidarity. I knew deep within me that the commercial bus driver who dumped us in the middle of an express road couldn't have had our good intentions in mind. He'd wanted us robbed! If not, why would he be the first to abandon the bus and flee into the jungle leaving the passengers to be mauled by the gunmen? I hissed as I looked at him.

By now, I was so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. In other to confirm my suspicion of conspiracy between the robbers and the driver, I posed a question at him while I kept my ears out for a possible return of the gunmen who couldn't have been too far away.

'Did you see the armed robbers?' I asked the driver who by now had taken off his shirt and was stabbing at some insects chewing on his flesh.

His reply was the proof I needed. 'No. They didn't find me' he whispered, as he danced uncomfortably on one feet.

'How come they didn't find you?' I asked as I couldn't believe that he was born lucky. 'I hid very well.' He confessed. More like they spared you, I thought in my heart. How could such hungry, wild, result driven, dare devil armed robbers who held the entire express road hostage for over four hours combing the forest with a fine-toothed comb have missed a tall fellow, named the driver?

Ignoring the driver, I looked at my leafy surroundings. I conjured up a comfortable mattress in my mind and laid down on a massive black hole at the root of one humongous tree. Four hours before, I couldn't have imagined taking up residence in the dreaded jungle. But after enduring several hours of shooting over my head, a severe round of beating and machete cut on my shoulder, the thick, dark forest beckoned to me for safety and dear comfort.

So I laid down on the bare earth amid fresh leaves, twigs, tree trunks and unseen
insects and animals. The driver hovered around, appearing scared, as he peered down the mountainside to the road to see if the robbers had truly left the scene. Perhaps, it was to impress me? But I was too tormented to care.

At the point when I put my head down on the hard root of the tree, I told myself that I wouldn't care if a snake crawled up and threatened to give me a nice bite. It would have been one more torture to endure. But lo and behold, as soon as I laid my head to get a few minutes rest, I was on my feet again.

Yes, the unbelievable had happened. While I thought that the wild animals like the wolves, lions, snakes etc. would be the daunting challenge as I make my bed in the forest, I never imagined that the little red ants or whatever ants they are called would put me through another round of blood suckling torture.

I yelled as soon as I felt the severe sting on my body and on my scalp. It felt like hot needles were pricking me all over. As I writhed helplessly in pain, I began to strip off my clothes. I screamed as ants dug their callous sting into what the robbers had left of my already battered flesh.

Apparently, I wasn't the only victim of insect attack! The driver was also stripping and dancing around in pain. So, even though he was spared the brutal attack by the armed men, the unsympathetic ants, didn't spare him! For that singular torture, I was grateful.

I slapped my arms, my legs, my back and I scratched my head, pulling at my hair to get rid of the offending little ants. Nothing worked. It was in the deep recesses of the jungle, being beaten hands down by blood suckling ants that I made a solemn vow not to end up in hell...

'How will hell be?' I asked myself as the pain fired from my head through every single pore in my body. 'I don't want to find out'. If I make it out of this place alive, I must follow Christ all the days of my life so that Heaven would be sure. If what that experience offered wasn't hell, then...

After what seemd like forever, the driver and I walked away from that ant infested zone in the forest in search of the other passengers. I honestly feared that they may have been killed. And so we walked further into the jungle, we kept walking...
After awhile, we began to see one passenger after the other in the deepest part of the forest.

Each one was wary, not trusting if the approaching human form was part of the robbers. So we had to identify ourselves as passengers before joining the slowly forming group. At this time, some resourceful and responsive passengers had made a clearing far inside the jungle. And we all gathered together. The women were allowed to sit on the logs of wood the men had felled or found on the earth.

As we gathered together, everyone burst into a chorus of thanksgiving to God. We counted ourselves and we found that no one was killed, but every one was
adequately robbed blind, severely beaten and tortured, except for the driver!!!

In fact, the huge, male passenger that sat beside me at the front of the hiace bus before the robbery had a horrific gash of wound in between his thumb and forefinger. As we took a look at his injury, it was rapidly swelling and looked raw. He recounted his own brush with the vicious men.

He had apparently hidden successfully in the forest and hadn't been found. Then, the armed robbers held a lady they had found hostage and threatened to rape her if the men didn't come out of hiding.

He told us that because he had witnessed a robbery where women had been raped several months ago in the south-southern part of the Nigeria, he swore that never again would he allow women to be raped. And so, he came out of hiding to save the lady that had been captured by the gunmen. He recounted how he had been aggressively attacked with matchetes by the gunmen. It was when he raised his hands to protect his head from the machete cut that he got the horrible cut.

When we heard his bitter tale, we thanked him for his bravery, unselfish instincts and heroic act. I didn't have the strength or the willingness to recount my own personal traumatic experience out on the road. As we huddled around the freshly made forest fire, we sang songs of praise to the God for sparing our lives. We totally ignored the various frightening sounds of the wild...encouraging one another that morning was near...

At that time, I'd no fear in me of the dark or of the forest. I'd been thoroughly passed through scorching fire... Nothing can be worse than this, we encouraged ourselves. But we were wrong...

In part 4, you will read about the dreadful noise that kept us awake, watching the bleak sky, praying desperately for the slowly dawning morning.

This is my personal true life story.



Our Promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ARMED ROBBERY - MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE PART 2

As I laid on the hard ground in the pitch darkness, I remember thinking to myself that it would be wise for me to begin recounting all my many sins. I needed to quickly beg God to forgive me so that I would be sure of a speedy passage to Heaven -my Father's throne...

Then, I felt the gang leader's sturdy, booted leg pierce my back, pinning me to the


unforgiving ground. The night was still, very quiet as if nature and the world were in massive conspiracy to give these violent men that had staged a blockade on a public road the right to plunder us silly. There were no birds singing, no frogs croaking, no cars driving by and no rescue police sirens. I thought about my younger sister's intoduction ceremony scheduled to start the following morning, and my heart thumped and ached because I thought I would never see her again anyway.

There was no way these wicked and violent men who had taken the princely liberty to beat me squarely would spare me to attend my sister's event. Anyway, as I laid face down on the dusty road, the other members of the robbery squad raced into the dark forest chanting harsh songs in mindless and rampant search for my fellow passengers who had the effrontery to flee to the 'safety' of the forest.

In the few seconds I could think, I scolded myself for being so squirmish, so fearful of the black, African jungle.

I asked my brain a few questions; Why for example didn't I join the fleeing passengers? Would the 'safety' of the forest not have been better than lying down spread eagled on the rock solid, dusty, black ground in the middle of Benin-Lagos express road? Would a snake bite not have been more tolerable than having a violent gunman shooting live bullets over my head, combined with his booted leg trapping me to the ground? Having a tiger wrestle with me in the bushes would surely have been a more friendly and sensible option, I berated myself further.

In truth I feared that anytime soon, the arrogant gun man would fling me up, tear my clothes away and get down to the serious business of rape... That, was my number one fear. Machete cuts, gruesome kicks, hard punches and crazy slaps I can live with, but rape by an armed robber? It has no remedy!

The gunman asked me in between his shooting spree if I was a student. I remember thinking to myself, if only I was a student, perhaps, he'll take it easy with me. But I'd left University six years earlier, so I couldn't claim to be a student. And, I'd been working in Cadbury Nigeria PLC for 3years. I therefore didn't qualify to be tagged a student. So I told him the truth. My voice quivered in fear as I told him I worked in Cadbury. There was silence from the aggressive gunman. And there was a stillness in the dark area that scared me so much.

We were the only two in the middle of nowhere at an unholy time of the night. I imagined he was preparing to hurt me yet again. The next thing I heard was the sound of light metal against the coal tarred road. The criminal had tossed my Cadbury employee identity card at me. He added his brittle comment, 'That is your ID'. I swiftly grabbed the square laminate before he changed his mind.

It occurred to me that at least, if I came out of the experience alive, it would save me a whole world of heartache not to have to go to the police to obtain a report that it had been stolen. His singular action offered a faint ray of hope. I whispered a silent prayer of thanks to God for the fact that I didn't lie that I was a student. Apparently, he had my patent rucksack bag with him, he'd ruffled through it and fished out my ID. For a split minute, I welcomed the thought that perhaps, the gunman wasn't that mean after all. So I offered him an olive branch.

After a couple of minutes of sanity, the gun tooting fellow released a few more live bullets. I was scared of being killed by stray bullets from this gun wielding man. He justified his shooting spree. 'Let the Policemen come and get us now...soon, you will see them parading the so called student armed robbers on TV. The Police will claim they caught them robbing..

Well, let them come and get us now. This is our operation. Where is the police?' he asked no on one in particular. Again, he fired a few more bullets into the air. The frequent gunshots were a warning to any wayward motorist attempting to drive by to stay away. Meanwhile, the robber's leg still weighed heavily on my back, pressing me to the unmoving floor.

When I was growing up, I quaked at any form of beating or punishment whether at home or at school. To avoid any form of repercussion therefore, I always followed the rules. My dad knows I can't tolerate being screamed at under any circumstance. As I was a daddy's girl, if he as much as raised his voice at me, I will not speak to him for hours or a whole day to teach him a lesson.

But when these gangsters beat the living nightlight out of me, screamed, shoved, punched and used cutlass to cut me on my shoulder, every fear that I've ever known or heard off, flew out of me for good. Now, I can even joke that Mr. Fear is indebted to me. Those armed robbers taught me a thorough lesson. NEVER FEAR! The one scriptural consolation I had was the biblical verse that encouraged you not to fear those who could only destroy your mortal bodies, but you should only fear God who can both destroy your body and your soul. So, as I lay beneath the heavy, booted foot of my captor and tormentor, I told myself that the worst that would happen is that he will kill me and I would join my Saviour. That didn't sound like a bad alternative at that time.

When I thought the gang leader was a bit calmer, I told him in a frightened tone that I had Bournvita (beverage) in my lugggage in the bus and that they could have it (I thought I was being kind!). Oh my! Did I say the wrong thing? The gunman's leg thudded against my back with a horrendous shout of, 'Shut up! Did I tell you we are hungry?' I quaked on the cold road apologizing profusely. He barked harder at me to, 'Shut up!' And so, I did. I never uttered another word.

After what seemed like eternity, which was maybe only four hours, his gang members successfully raided my fellow passengers hiding in the bushes. They came charging out of the heart curdling forest, shooting and yelling. Their shouts rang out and I'm sure it could be heard as far away as the North pole.

Of course, they must have been high on God knows what drug or alchohol or a mixture of both. My panic started all over again. None of the other robbers came out of the forest with any passenger with a gun to their heads. I was the only unfortunate victim still lying underneath the boot of their ring leader. I wondered if this was the moment where they would just release a single bullet to end my torture. I couldn't for the life of me imagine they would spare me.

However, in the midst of the violent men, there was one soft hearted soul - the one
God touched his heart to show me mercy (the gang leader who had me trapped under his foot for endless hours!). Before I could say 'JACK', I was picked up from the ground like an insect. The gang leader wouldn't let any of the others who were approaching nosily touch me.

The others were shouting and screaming. From their noise I could make out that they were running out of time. In the over four hours they robbed us blind, there wasn't a single vehicle or car coming along in both directions of the express road. AMAZING INDEED! While the other robbers were clutching their loot, screaming, shooting into the air, my captor pointed his gun to my back. My legs were like melting jelly. I told myself to quickly say the final prayer because I have seen several films where the robbers aim the gun at their captive and pull the trigger.

The gang members screamed at their leader to get rid of me quickly, but he didn't listen. He simply urged me forward with the gun behind my back and one hand on my shoulder. My eyes were tightly shut in the dark! This must have been well past midnight into the early hours of the morning. Still, they urged him to end the job quickly, that is, the job of 'getting rid' of me.

He told them to be calm. He ordered me to 'run into the forest'. I stumbled because my eyes were firmly shut and I had no idea where I was going. He screamed at me. 'I say run into the bushes quickly. Your fellow passengers are over there! Go and join them.' My brain was very slow, unable to process this vital information it was receiving. I couldn't understand why the gunman would want to spare me. Surely, he wants to kill me by asking me to run my brain reasoned? And for the third time, he yelled, this time, using the gun to push me away from him. 'Now run, this way...' my eyes flew open as my head finally reigstered that I was being set free.

Freedom has never been so sweet or so expensive!

Suddenly, my eyes that had remained closed for the duration of the raid flew open, speedily acclamatizing to the pitch dark, bushy surroundings. My heart jumped all over the place in fright and sheer joy, it raced faster than the clock. Energy, fresh and clean flowed through my limbs and I surged forward. One part of my brain expected the gun to go off at any minute, but miraculously, it didn't!

Interestingly, my initial fear of the jungle was deftly pushed back as I climbed the steep mountain dotted with stumps, trees and foliage. I rushed forward into it's
natural 'safety'. When I got to the flat top, I pinched myself to confirm that I was still alive. I said a silent thank you to God who delivered me from the valley of the shadow of death. And today, I still pray that God would spare the gang leader of his sins because he didn't shoot me that night.

In spite of the panic, shootings, beatings, physical and mental torture, I didn't feel the physical pain at that time. It felt as if the beatings were happening to my body somewhere else, but the mental torture was what I can say was more devastating...

To all gunmen, armed robbers and thieves Jesus says, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Matthew 4:17. Follow Christ and He will make you fishers of men, not killers of men.

Keep reading as I go into another type of torture in the forest - both natural and manmade in Part 3.


Our Promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.


Monday, 7 February 2011

ARMED ROBBERY - MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE PART 1

The journey started trouble free enough. It was getting fairly dark. As I looked out of the window from the front seat beside the driver, I shivered at the sight of the
darkening forest on both sides of the Lagos-Benin express road. I wondered what time I would get to my parent's home in Benin-City. The driver drove as fast as any impatient passenger could have asked for...until we faced a huge tree trunk lying across the tarred road.

It was about 9p.m. Considering I'd always preferred to start my journey early in the day, this unfolding scenery was alien to me. The tall, hefty, male passenger sitting beside me said calmly, 'It's armed robbers!!!'. The same comment was echoed by another passenger in the bus.

What would any passenger have expected a responsible, caring, commercial bus driver to have done? He should have applied his brake, made a 'U' turn and driven back to where we were coming from - Lagos. Is that too much to expect? Yes! it is.
What did the driver do? He applied his brake alright, right in front of the tree blockade. We could see a number of touch light rays shinning in the distance...in the dark night.

I quaked as I heard the word, 'armed robbers'. I'd never encountered the dreaded men in my life. Before I could shout, 'What do we do'? Other passengers who had obviously encountered men of the night previously, were already jumping out of the bus window in droves. I sat down there thoroughly and totally petrified.

My brain couldn't transmit the simple message of 'run for your life' to my limbs. The co-front seat passenger slid down and joined the hordes of fleeing travellers. When I looked left I was confronted with the frightening site of the vast jungle. And when I turned right, it was the same black, horrific spread of forest.

The fleeting thought of how awful it would be to be eaten alive by jungle animals
wheezed past my mind. The first picture that filled my frozen brain was a big-headed, hungry, roaring lion tearing my limbs apart. Instead, I sat put in the bus ALONE and afraid.

I wondered why the other passengers hadn't hesitated about fleeing into the fiery jungle. I told myself I couldn't risk being bitten by a poisonous snake. For a few more seconds, I sat alone in the now deserted hiace bus. When I sneaked a look at the approaching touchlight rays, I finally plucked up the courage to get down. I clutched my black, rucksack bag to my chest like a shield. Forcing my feet to move, I walked fearfully to the shrubs at the start of the forest, along the side of the express road.

I laid quivering on the floor hoping that I wouldn't be found by the approaching
marauders. For a few minutes or seconds, there was absolute peace and quiet. In that precious, quiet, few minutes I tried frantically to remember the first verse of Psalm 23. The sound of my fast thumping heart and my inability to breath properly made it impossible for my brain to work as it should have. My lips could only mumble, 'Goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever, Amen' over and over again. I didn't remember the fact that the Psalm started with, 'The Lord is my Shepherd...'

As I struggled to say another prayer, I felt a loud blow and a brutal slap on my head. As I was lifted up like paper weight by four ruthless men, I felt a blow to my shoulder (which turned out to be a machete cut!) and a rain of crushing slaps, more bitter blows and fierce kicks to my body.

I remember thinking that my end had come. My only consolation was that at least, I'll get to see God and have a joyous stay in Heaven. As I endured the thorough beating at the merciless hands of these men, I never for one moment thought I'll survive to recount the horrifying experience.

When the rush of blows stopped, I was dragged like a dirty sack of potato to lie face
down on the coal tar express road. To add flavour to my experience, the ring leader of the gang placed his filthy, booted leg on the small of my back as I was sprawled flat on the unfriendly, warm tar...

Watch out for the mind bogging drama unleashed by the heartless, ruthless men and our night in the forest...!



Our Promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

ARMED ROBBERY - A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE!!!

Where do I begin? For weeks after I attended my daughter's school perfomance at Catford Broadway Theatre on the Untold Stories about the Holocaust (January 2011), I became uneasy I asked myself this question;

What gives anyone the right to hold a gun to another's back, threatening to end his life?

Some would say frustration, poverty, betrayal by society, corruption by leaders trusted with public funds 'stealing' the pot for their great grand children etc.
Whatever the reason, is it justifiable for anyone to hold a bunch of innocent passengers and families hostage, raping, killing, maiming, assaulting and bleeding them dry?

I've decided to write this personal experience in four parts.
This is my first brush with the mask wearing, gun-tooting men of the underworld.

1998; It was my younger sister's introduction. That is, my younger sister was getting married, but her in-laws had to come over to introduce themselves to my family. My parents live in the ancient city of Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. I worked and lived in Lagos, Nigeria. A cosmopolitan, boisterous, jam-packed city, very much like London.

The journey was at least over three hours, no matter what brand of car you're driving. My sister had insisted I'd to be in attendance. After all, she's my best friend. At that time, I worked for a multinational - Cadbury!!! It was a regular Friday. Work was hectic, with meetings and deadlines... I hate travelling by road. And I also hate travelling by road at night!!!

Just when I wanted to make a dash for my over three hour journey, my director called me and asked to see me. How could I tell him I had an impending journey? Finally, after checking my wristwatch for the one millionth time, I embarked on this ill-fated journey, with the knowledge that my younger sister would be dissapointed if I appeared on the morning of the event (the next day, Saturday).

Pushing my phobia of road journey and late night travel aside, I hopped on the commercial bus plying the Lagos-Benin route...

The full story of the bullet-ridden, fear instilling, mind boggling armed robbery attack unfolds here...


Our Promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.