Instead of returning to the hostel, I decided to go back to the mamee market. I stumbled upon Timi and some couple of friends who were busily chatting. I joined them to chat without giving it much thought. We were so engrossed in our discussion till we heard a voice from behind us, ordering us to hand over our phones to another corp member. We turned around and saw a 3-star soldier standing right before our very eyes. We looked stunned and amazed at the rate at which he commanded us.
The corp member who accompanied him stepped forward and we all dropped our phones like mumu. Who born us well? The fear of a soldier is the beginning of wisdom. After dropping our phones, he ordered us to follow him.
When we got to the outskirt of the mamee market, one of the girls among us began to limp so he freed her. He then ordered another guy who was just about to enter the market to stop, collected his phone and told him to join us. I was devastated as well as surprised, as I couldn’t figure out what we’ve all done. He took us to the parade ground and ordered the first guy to do some sort of punishment for about three minutes before telling him to get up. He ordered the second guy to follow suit, but to our greatest surprise, he refused blatantly. In his explanation, he said he had medical reports to back his decision.
This really aggravated the captain’s anger. He told us to stay at one side of his hand because that guy was going to suffer the punishment meant for all of us; although he stylishly punished us by making us stand with him all through the duration. We were glad and at the same time wondering what our sin could really be.
He sang different ‘soldier songs’ and taught us how to sing them too. He challenged us by saying the person with the highest voice would be freed. Timi, being the closest to him, took advantage of proximity and sounded the loudest. He was released shortly after that.
With Timi gone, we now had three males, three females. The captain continued to sing till he had nothing new to sing. Later, he began to tell us about how he joined the army at the age of 10. He told us about the hardship he had to face all the way down the position he now holds.
The scary part of his story was his last encounter with Boko haram along Wailo road, Bauchi state. He said he had gotten information prior to their coming, so he arranged about 10 officers in addition to himself, ignorant of the number of Hilux cars the Boko guys were bringing along. The number of ammunition they had couldn’t curtail them so he sent for re-enforcement, which took hours. At that point, he felt he would be dead before help arrived. Few inches away from giving up, re-enforcement arrived and they were able to ward-off Boko haram.
I felt his pain. He lost three of his captains in that encounter: He lost a brother, a best friend and a close associate in the military. He doesn’t plan of quitting the military anytime because of the pain he had experienced, although he intends to do something important later on in his life. Poor guy! Like he said, they were trained to kill.
Finally, he told us the crime we had committed was not greeting a captain. What? Just that? Military guys can be tough sha. He freed us shortly after saying that. On his uniform, I saw his name: Captain Nwabunike, with a 3 star. He doesn’t even look like an Igbo. We apologised to him and he handed over our phones to us.
Upon getting back to the hostel, I felt very weak and tired. Ugo was dead worried about where I was. I narrated my ordeal to him and the other guys in the room. They were really surprised that one could get punished by a soldier just because he didn’t greet. They all laughed at me and I told them not to worry, their own sef dey come, especially Ejike. They kept on laughing while I descended on the fried yam and eggs we bought earlier at the mamee market. It had been a long day, an adventurous one of course. Just what I needed, but not an encounter with the fierce looking soldiers in camp.
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