The banging on the gate got louder but we didn’t move. I reduced the volume of the CD player and I heard my name. One of the guys hitting the gate was shouting Becko, Becko na me (Yea some of my friends called me Becko because of my love for David Beckham at that time #nohomo). Immediately I heard Becko, I knew it could only be one of six people that called me that and I let out a sigh of relief. I stepped out and saw two familiar faces Famo Risky and S.O.J. I opened the gate for them and even though I was wondering what they were doing around the area, I asked no questions. We were gisting about what was happening as regards the on going students and vigilante clash when NEPA struck. It was when the power went off we knew all wasn’t well. We heard foot steps (people running helter skelter for safety), gun shots and vigilantes shouting awon da (where are they?) The vigilantes tried to break into some halls where they knew no indigene of the town lived. We were scared, they were on our street and the noise got louder.
We heard sound of glasses been shattered in the building just before ours and an elderly man was shouting, telling the vigilantes not to go near the house and our own building. In yoruba parlance he said ile awon Bankole ni e ma wo ibe (The houses belonged to the Bankoles don’t go there). Some sort of relief came. While all these was happening, Famo Risky and S.O.J were speaking grammar saying this is injustice, we should fight for our rights blah blah blah, one of the guys with us was praying and these crazy dudes (Famo and S.O.J ) started laughing. One babe was crying saying we should call their aunt to alert the police from Ijebu-ode (was wondering how that could help) to come and rescue us. We all gathered in one room talking about a way out and nothing seemed to make sense. A few minutes later we heard someone knock on one of the gates gently and the girls got scared again. Laka stuck his head out and saw a figure dressed in agbada and went back in thinking it was one of the vigilantes. The dude in agbada mentioned Laka’s name and said emi ni Bamo (it’s me Bamo). The voice confirmed it was Bamo our hall mate but one of the girls said we shouldn’t open the gate that Bamo could have been followed or something, I couldn’t laugh.
S.O.J and I went to open the gate and we saw it was just Bamo. As we were walking back to the room we all were, we asked Bamo why he was dressed in agbada and he told us that an indigene gave him as a disguise because if the vigilantes found out he was a student they would have maimed him. He said he was scared as he was walking down to the hall. He saw burning tyres and even heard some students were already dead. This caused the crying babe to cry more. Myself, Famo and S.O.J asked if any of the girls cooked because we were starving and one of them replied saying we still want to eat with all that was going on. S.O.J was like so make we no chop? That he can’t starve and still lose his life o. This caused more tears from the crying party. We were eventually given food. People were calling their families and every now and then families called to find out if they we all were safe. Meanwhile there was a girl in the hall, she was just quiet in her room. We didn’t even know till she came out to ask for matches to light her stove. She didn’t even look frightened at all. At about 11pm people started falling asleep and myself and Laka were still up gisting. I battled sleep but gave in immediately after I heard one of the vigilantes say “eyin omo OSU e ti gbe” (OSU students you guys are in trouble).
It was morning and we were thankful we were still alive. I was going into the loo when I heard a bang on the gate. I was a bit scared and the person banged on the gate again and when I checked I found out it was my Uncle who resided in Ijebu-ode. He came to get us, but how were we going to escape without being attacked by the vigilantes? He said we should get our things and follow him. By this statement you would think he was talking to myself and my cousins only. If you were thinking that was what he meant, you were right but was that what happened? Hell NO. My uncle came in an Audi Salon car and about 9 of squeezed ourselves into the car. Till date I still don’t know how we pulled that off. As we were driving the vigilantes were on the road and they stopped my Uncle’s car because they saw that it was filled with students. We thought this was the end but no my uncle stepped out of the car uttering these five words I will never ever forget “emi ni Rothmans, kilo sele” (it’s Rothmans whats the problem). And that was it, they let him drive off without stopping him or saying anything.
We got to Ijebu-ode 15 minutes later. We were all thankful to GOD for sending us Uncle Rothmans. The girls were still scared though (didn’t know why). Myself and the other boys went to one correct amala joint to kill the hunger biting us and down some of those bottles to calm our nerves. After about an hour the girls called us to tell us they had chartered a bus that would take us to Lagos. On our way back to meet the girls we saw some fellow students, some in their night gowns, some in jeans and vest and some in wrappers. I approached a familiar face and asked him how he left, he said through the bush. He had been on the move since the night before. I was thankful to GOD for sparing my life once again.
We got to Lagos and called some of my friends to find out if they were safe. One of them said he took a bike to Sagamu and had to call home with a pay phone so they could send him airtime to sell and sort the bike man and have transport to get home. It was so sad. Some girls were raped, some (boys and girls) beaten to a pulp. People were trapped in the bush. Some said the indigenes of the town pointed out where students were hiding to the vigilantes. I could go on and on. Famo, S.O.J, Laka, Bamo and the strange babe (lol) didn’t however leave school with us because of space but they were safe. The school was shut down for a couple of months and it was obvious the indigenes of the town missed the students because who were they going to sell stuff to? The students were their magas. What they sold to us was normally sold to their fellow natives for less. My friend who went to school to pick up some of his stuff two weeks after the mishap said he was shocked when he was asked to pay 10 naira for a bike trip they would charge 30 naira for on a good day and 40 to 50 naira if it was late.
I dedicate this piece to the memory of those that we lost on the 16th day of June, 2005. May the good LORD grant you eternal rest (Amen). It is not that those of us that survived were better than those that died, we were just LUCKY. If you were in school when this sad event occurred and you are still alive you should be thankful too. GOD bless the dead.
Thanks for your time……………………………………………………………………. BLESS!!!
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