(Tale of a Survivor).
We hurriedly assembled at the parade ground that night and did a little bit of warm up exercises. It was easy but also rigorous. After we were done with that, we were formed into formations and split into smaller groups. Colonel Andrew, whom I had a chat with before I came to see Bright, was the commander leading my own formation. He had already told me, so I knew beforehand.
“This man looks like an ajebor” Bright joked. I almost laughed out so loud, but I caught the laugh before it could come out of my mouth.
“He is one of the best soldiers here ooo” I whispered to Bright. We were ushered to a small room, and we communicated among ourselves as we made way to the small room we call the “Death Room.” It was given that name because that is where the death of terrorists are planned before it is actually played out in reality. First of all, we had some newly inducted members into the team, so they had to do the normal orientation. Their names were called out and they were given spaces in the high table for their routine induction ritual.
They were just two in number, so when the devil’s basket was tossed, two of them chose the dancing ritual. This entails dancing to the beat of our drums in any tribal way that you had knowledge of. It was actually fun while it lasted. It wasn’t for long, before the dance ended and we were to business again.
Cornel Andrew took the center stage with a big map on the table. I knew the way all that would play out, so I only waited till when he was giving us our tactics and code of conduct; that was when I would actually give him my attention.
“This is one of the most important missions we would ever undertake for now” Cornel Andrew started in a low voice. Everywhere was silent as a grave yard, and I guess that a lot of people were reminiscing about their lives instead of the mission itself.
“Most of us will die, most of us will be killed without mercy, so it depends on you to fight gallantly for your father’s land. There is no room for error. You are only alive because of your comrade. Protect him and make sure nothing happens to him, then see the wonders that will happen” Cornel Andrew said.
“You will protect me while I protect myself” Bright said as he shade me a little bit with his almost fat body.
So who will now protect me?” I asked him with a fake anger emotion on my face.
“God will protect you” He said. I had never said Amen in my life, but I couldn’t tell the moment that the word came out of my mouth.
“Now you believe in God?” Bright Joked
“Come on…, I said it like a normal word” I responded back while acting defensive. We were still debating about who believes in God or not before a close-by soldier tapped me on my back. I sharply stood at attention.
“Can you tell me the last thing that I said?” Cornel Andrew asked. I stared at Bright, hoping he would give me an answer but nothing came forth.
“That we should kill all of them without mercy” I responded with a sense of humor.
“Wonderful!!!” Cornel Andrew shouted. Everybody went into a deep laughter including Bright.
“Come along my genius soldier” He beckoned on me. I quickly took some shy steps towards his direction.
“Bend over a little bit” He said. I immediately bent a little, before the tactical map was relocated from the table to my back.
“That is how people die in the war front. Any single mistake is death. You need to be vigilant all the time” Cornel Andrew stressed.
“I am sorry sir” I managed to say from my bent position before I was released and asked to go back to my former position. It was a length talk. We discussed plans, tactics and how we would liberate a part of Barga. The terrorists have advanced deep into the heart of Borno and any mistake would see them taking over Borno town. All through my time of fighting, I have never seen people with such weapons. The bomb blasts in various villages in Borno was becoming a source of concern. We knew that they were getting close to over-running the capital and we had to act fast.
Like Cornel Andrew said, our job was to find their stronghold in Barga and capture it. It would take us about two weeks of constant fighting, depending on who wins the outcome. This was a deadly fight but we had no option than to walk the path that was before us. We have been briefed and we all found our way to the weapon room. We knew our specialties, so we all knew the weapons that would fit that perfectly. We timed our movement to be in the night, when we knew that the terrorists might be asleep.
A good number of bomber jets had been sent on patrol to survey our landing area, this was to know if enemies were hiding anywhere around. The fighter jet had an infrared technology that could detect human temperature from as far as 12 thousand miles radius from the sky. It was a good technology that was given to us by the United States Army, and we believed that it could never fail us. The jets went out on their way and surveyed the area, before declaring it a safe zone. We had to dispatch another of the jets, and that second one also came back with a positive confirmation.
“How true is this?” Cornel Andrew asked surprised. “We read that the zone you declared safe was a major place where the terrorists had been patrolling for days” I heard him say to one of the Air force officers.
“Sir, I can authoritatively tell you that the place is safe and nothing can tell me otherwise” The Air force man declared.
We all knew that failure to go would mean otherwise. We were scheduled to land about 7kms away from our already decided drop zone, but after many arguments, we decided to land where the Air Force officer tagged “Safe.”
“You believe that guy?” I asked Bright
“Me no sabi ooo” He replied in pidgin English.
“Which one you dey ever sabi sef?” I asked him back in anger
“Gerrarahia my friend” He said. I quietly went about my rifle cleaning business before assembling them together to have a fierce looking rifle in my possession.
“If we make any Mistake from our drop zone, we are going to massacred like cows. Always be your brother’s keeper and always look out for your comrades. We are not living anybody behind” Cornel Andrew said.
“I don’t like the idea of dropping where these Air force men tagged SAFE, but we just have to do it” He murmured to me.
“But we had reports that they were littering the whole of that place some few days back, what happened?” I asked Cornel Andrew
“Maybe they have other plans for us” He said
“Maybe” I repeated.
For real, the terrorists did have other plans for us, and they executed it perfectly fine. It is a sad story to tell, and I will continue in the next EPISODE.
To Be Continued…
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