How the Nigerian DSS operatives abducted me -By J. Ezike

Filed under: Expose Naija,National Issues |

As a staunch opponent of the Islamic government of Nigeria and a radical supporter of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), I have always been aware of the grave dangers of being a bête noire on the nation’s watchlists.  And the pure knowledge of that fact prepared me for the worse possible scenario.  But I will also say this as a benefit of doubt, that I never envisaged the possibility of being witch-hunted by the Nigerian secret service and declared wanted for the peaceful exercise of my right to freedom of expression.

Since 2014, I functioned as a columnist on Elombah.com and Opinion Nigeria and several other websites and blogs operating within the contraption. When I first began as a political writer and activist, Tim Elombah provided me the unique opportunity to let my voice heard on national issues that mattered. I was a young passionate writer, twenty-six years of age. And I already had a platform to exercise my civil rights as a writer. It is fair to say that I had become part of Elombah’s political cut of cloth, a family of a progressive force ushering in an unconventional way of doing things, far-flung from the status-quo. And the website, in my opinion is one of the few I can trust. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why I offered him and his brother (Daniel) my solidarity and lent my voice on social media, demanding their release from police detention. The unlawful arrest of these two London-based journalists provoked my spirit and I deemed it a civil duty to write against the “familiar” Nigerian injustice, intimidation and military threats on voices of reason.

Exactly four days after my intense social media activism on Biafran referendum, the massacre of innocent civilians in Benue and River states by the Islamic Fulani militia and the release of two Igbo journalists – Tim and Daniel Elombah – I faced my own tribulation not dissimilar to the aforementioned.

It took me enormous good courage to write this article but thank God I finally did. And I want the world to be aware of what transpired between me and the Nigerian DSS operatives. I am willing to apologize for the bluntness of this article, but I cannot deodorize my experience on the 5th of January 2018: in a nutshell the experience was a shocking nightmare.

As a revolutionary writer and a voice for Biafran referendum and freedom of the enslaved, I bear the powerful responsibility to make public the events of that very day.

On the 31st of December 2017, I had travelled by road from Lagos to my home town in Imo State Biafraland for the Christmas and New-Year celebration. It was meant to be a seven-day visit. The last time I visited home was in 2016 when I had returned from my teaching job in India. There, I worked as an English teacher in a catholic primary school in Bangalore. I had completed my contract and had become a full time novelist, publisher, story-writer, graphic illustrator and Biafran activist.

I was prepared to behold Nigeria in its fulsome hideousness. And I was certain that travelling by road after a long time away from home would offer me the renewed, unflattering experience of a victimized citizen. Nigeria never disappointed to make my teeth chatter. From the journey’s beginning to its termination spared me no atom of hope for the cursed nation of my birth. The cortege of burnt humans, trucks and tankers along the dilapidated highways left the impression of a Hell Zone. I could smell the evil of bad leadership pinching my nostrils, biting my brain-cells and committing my warrior-hand to the pen and paper. I was traumatized by the horror-inducing motor accidents I had witnessed on Nigeria’s “death traps” in the course of the journey to Orlu. To be honest, I felt extremely lucky to have journeyed through that valley of death unscarred. I wanted no more of that daredevilry. Thus, I made up my mind that I’d return back to Lagos from Owerri by flight.

Driving in Biafraland was an inspiring exercise. I hardly exaggerate here: the experience was synonymous to watching a biopic movie of Emeka Ojukwu’s  Biafra. People: men, women and children, believing in the struggle for freedom. To observe the tri-color Biafran emblem flying in traffic was to behold “black freedom” agitating before one’s eyes. Walls and bridges scribbled with powerful sloganeering clichés: “BIAFRA IS OUR ONLY HOPE.” “NNAMDI KANU IS ANOTHER SAVIOUR.” “BRITAIN LET BIAFRA GO.” It was for this bold show of courage that millions of Biafran activists, writers, evangelists, speakers and journalists were arrested, harassed, detained, acidified and butchered by the murderous Nigerian army and DSS operatives.

While my spirit wept for the death of my people from 1967 till date, I rejoiced for the future. For though Biafra freedom may be delayed, it can never be denied. I had sworn to serve the struggle with my pen and paper so help me God. I felt naturally in union with everything that animated the struggle. And coming home indeed felt like home.

I had arrived Orlu at the death of the night. My father had travelled two days before my arrival. We had celebrated the New-Year together, praying for a successful 2018, pouring libations, breaking kola-nuts, clinking glasses, communing with our kinsmen and of course setting the Orlu sky ablaze with fireworks. Exactly four days later the unimaginable visited.

It was on a Friday. And the entire village was yet to be awake. The sun was nowhere to be seen on the sky. I had woken up to say my midnight prayers at about 3am. Suddenly I heard tyres screeching. The distant sound grew louder until it consumed my world. Our gate roared like the walls of Jericho falling flat. My father had jerked from his deep sleep and we both wondered what had happened. Before we could exchange words, we overheard violent sounds on our door, like the kicking of a boot on an infant head. My heart leaped into my throat. At first, I thought Evans and his men had paid special visit. This must be the kidnappers. And I wondered who the target was – me or my father?

“OPEN THIS DOOR!” A stentorian voice barked. I clutched on a matchete, daring to die another day. If this is the beginning of the second Biafran war, I am ready to die but not without the head of my enemy, so I thought.

“Don’t go” My father muttered, but I had vanished with a torch light. At the door, the hinges were pulling out, on the verge of kissing dust.

“Who’s there?” I shouted, barely finding my voice. I couldn’t feel my pulse rate, anxious sweating dripping all over my body. My father was behind me now. Confused, hollow-eyed, wondering what horror had presented itself at the birth of the morning, in a New-Year.

“DSS.” The voice barked simply. I knew they had come for me. I threw my matchete away and opened the door but they spared me no courtesy at all. The door was literally pushed to my face and four uniformed officers surged in. They wore DSS bulletproof vest and sunglasses – even in that overwhelming darkness. Like insane men on the loose they beat me, trampling their boots on me like a common criminal. My father reacted, pleading with them but was slapped and pinioned to a seat. I got enraged, cursing them to hell. How could they do this to an old man? I knew then, that I was dealing with some monsters. I observed two hounds vanishing through the entrance to my room. Few minutes later, they came out with my laptop and phones belonging to me and my father. I was handcuffed and bundled away in what appeared like an ash-colored peagout car.

Few hours later, we arrived at the DSS Owerri zonal office and I was detained in a small room. I enquired my offence and demanded for a lawyer but was ignored for hours, without food, water or the luxury of going to a rest-room. All the while, my father and his kinsmen had made several attempts to reach me through the phones the DSS had stolen. Much later, an officer came and said that I would be arraigned in a court for treason. He said my name was on Nigeria’s watchlists and that I am enemy of the state.  He said they had seen all the articles and books I had published against the unity of Nigeria. And as a Biafran activist I am apt to face the wrath of Aso Rock. I had also been arrested over certain comments I made on Facebook and Twitter and books published on Amazon as regard Biafran independence. He swore that I’d never go unpunished.

After almost 16 hrs in detention, at exactly 7pm my father showed up at the office, with some Royal Fathers of Orlu district. They had come to bail me. After much negotiation, the DSS officers agreed to release me “conditionally” but instructed that I go to Abuja and remove my name from the watchlist and warned me never to write for Biafra or make any statement that would jeopardize the unity of Nigeria. They had taken information about me, my home address in Orlu, Lagos and Abuja.  They returned the stolen items and collected 70,000 naira bail.

I left the office as an enemy of the state. But I vowed never to choose fear. If the worse possible scenario should happen to me, the world should hold the Nigeria government responsible.

 

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