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?
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.
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.