Fleeing Ibusa to Cameroon Via Oron And Bakassi Peninsula With The Help Of Mr. Minatus Aghas And Very Rev. Fr. Charles Eking Of Oron Catholic Church

Fleeing Ibusa to Cameroon Via Oron And Bakassi Peninsula With The Help Of Mr. Minatus Aghas And Very Rev. Fr. Charles Eking Of Oron Catholic Church

 By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD

From Ibusa to Port Harcourt and then to Oron

Having resolved to leave the town the following day, I immediately requested Brother Nnamdi to call Mr. Jude Sawyer to come over to the house of my Diokpa for urgent information regarding my problem.

Mr. Jude Sawyer who hails from the neighboring town of Okpanam had been acting as my Personal Assistant since my time as Director of the Centre for Igbo Studies, University of Nigeria Nsukka to join me as my assistant. Till that moment Jude never knew I was still alive.

When he arrived, he was surprised to see me, exclaiming, “Oga so you are still alive! Thank God.” Without wasting time, I informed him that he would be escorting me to Warri the next day by night, to which he nodded in affirmation.

I then requested him to secure a taxi cab on charter which would take us directly to Warri. We agreed that the taxi would pick me up at the present site of Admiralty University along Ibusa-Ogwashi-Uku road by 7:30 pm.

Indeed, when I decided to leave my hideout in my town in search of alternative place of refuge, I never had Cameroon in mind. My plan was to get to Warri and from there link up with Burutu Sea Port and then seek escape to Ghana with the aid of a fishing boat.

The plan however changed when we got to the East-West Patani-Ughelli-Warri Expressway junction late in the Night and the driver said he was no longer moving beyond that point. Thereafter I decided to adopt alternative destinations.

 These alternatives turned out to be either Chief Edwin Clarke— the renowned Niger Delta leader, or King Tom Atake— the Okrika Niger Delta militant leader-turned traditional ruler. At the end I settled for the latter because of the likely more security assurance.

Thus, on Wednesday May 30, 2018, I put a few pair of trousers and shirts in my small traveling suitcase in preparation for my journey into the unknown. As planned, I had to move out of my village under the cover of the night with Uncle Okouwai Nwanze dropping me off in his Mercedes Benz car to the agreed point where the chartered taxi cab in the company of Mr. Jude Sawyer would pick me up to avoid the prying eyes of my kinsmen.

By 7:30 pm I was ushered into the car and off I was driven to the designated point.

I knew right from time that the over one thousand telephone contact numbers in my phone were already under automatic data alert by the DSS.

And so, when my uncle Sir Okouwai Nwanze who was taking me out in his car to the location where I would be transferred to the chartered cab began to make constant calls with Jude over his delays in coming with the cab, I knew my movement had been leaked to the DSS.

When I notified uncle Okouwai of the dangers of such frequent calls with android phones given my previous experiences, he could not understand, and insisted it was not possible. Well, I was powerless to enforce my diktat on him so I let him had his way. 

I however concluded in my mind that my movement has been breached. Consequently, when we proceeded with the journey, I instructed Jude to remove the battery from his android phone, which he did.  But it was impossible to command the cab driver to do so. So, I knew I was being traced right from the moment we left my home-town Ibusa.

At Ozoro, the cab driver informed us that he was no longer going further and that we should pass the night there and proceed with the journey early the following morning. I responded with stern opposition with threats reminiscent of my old self but which inside me I knew was no longer there.

Fortunately, he caved in and decided instead to drop us at Ughelli East-West Express Junction and not Warri as originally planned.

When we got to the East-West junction where we were expected to board another vehicle to Warri, it was already 11 pm with no vehicle commuting to Warri available. The only vehicle available was a mini-Nisan Bus traveling to Yenegoa, Bayelsa State. 

So, we decided to join it with the plan of stopping at the junction linking Kiagbodo, Chief Edwin Clark’s town with the further intention of linking up with him. However, as we proceeded with the journey, we discovered it was impossible to disembark at the junction at that dead time of the night.

So, we decided to move straight to the final destination of the bus which was Yenegoa, and thereafter to Port Harcourt, this time with King Tom Atake in mind.

Meanwhile, at the time we arrived at the Ughelli Junction of the East-West Road, the location was virtually deserted and scanty with people, enough for my proper observation of the environment with keen sense of security. I was walking with a pair of clutches so it was easy for anybody to identify me among the crowd.

Right at the junction I noticed a parked SUV some distance away from where we dropped. As soon as we pulled to a halt, I noticed it pulled up slowly towards us. I noticed also that it was only the driver that was inside.

As I watched further, I noticed the driver watching me steadily and almost at the same time glancing at his phone.  He waited until we had entered the Yenegoa-bound commuter bus before driving off.

We arrived at Yenegoa some minutes past midnight without any definite place to sleep. We then waited till all the other passengers had disembarked and I told the driver my mission and begged him to drop us at one of the open drinking joints in the park.

 He advised against it and instead opted to drop us at a convenient point off the attention of the Policemen who were already approaching us for interrogation.

Thus, without waiting for the Policeman who had already approached us to ask any question, he zoomed off from the scene and dropped us just at the point where some members of the Christ Chosen Church were having an All-Night prayer session.

 We immediately joined them to their great delight. We prayed with them some few hours after which we all went to sleep in the same venue.

In the morning just before daybreak we joined a Port Harcourt bound bus, from where we linked up to Okrika hometown of Atake Tom. Amayanabo Atake Tom as his traditional title goes was not just a notable militant-turned traditional ruler, but equally the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike then.

 Arriving early in the morning, we checked into a hotel situated in one of the adjoining small islands. After cleaning up, we decided to take a nap, thereafter we had our breakfast in one of the local restaurants not far from the hotel.

Having temporarily refreshed ourselves, we decided to venture into the town to locate King Atake Tom. Quite unfortunately, our visit coincided with the day he was celebrating his birthday—Thursday May 31, 2018. We met his Palace with beehive of activities, thus making any contact with him impossible.

 I was momentarily in a state of quagmire; not knowing what line of action I would take thereafter. Although I eventually succeeded in booking an appointment with him through one of his Personal Assistants the following week, the possibility of my staying there till next week was not there.

It was at that point that a young man with whom we were interacting hinted us of the possibility of travelling to Cameroon and Gabon by sea through Oron and Eket. I did not wish him to elaborate on the two possibilities since that might betray my already heightened anxiety.

 As we departed back to our hotel, I began to brood over the idea of venturing into that chance of refuge without my companion being aware. When we arrived at the hotel, we rested a while and moved to the reception to chat with the two beautiful receptionists who were equally very enthusiastic to chat with us. Thereafter we decided to explore the small island.

I had established an emergency friendship with one of the receptionists in the course of chatting, and within that short moment she had become incredibly familiar with me. So, when we came back towards the evening, I went to chat with her almost at the same moment, forgetting my predicament and unconsciously constructing incomprehensible lustful mindset towards her.

It was in the process of this second round of amorous chatting that she unwittingly informed me that two men came to the hotel during our absence to enquire of our true identity. She went further to ask if I was really a High Traditional Chief, looking at me at the same time with disapproving surprise. I nodded in affirmation and soon began to sense dangers around me.

Without asking for details, I managed to tactfully end the discussion. Shortly afterwards I requested Jude to escort me to the other end of the village to make enquiries about our next move the following morning.

It was then getting late in the evening. As we entered the town, I began to look out for a very local and unsuspecting hotel or Guest House. We had checked into a relatively medium standard hotel, and so I felt I needed a lower standard one to conceal my whereabouts in the night without suspicion.

 As soon as we saw one, we entered to make enquiries. Jude could not understand why I should be making enquiries for another hotel room when we still had one which was relatively comfortable.

As soon as we got one, I immediately paid and informed Jude without reason that I would be sleeping there for the night. He said: “But Oga that one is better than this.” I told him that he should not worry and that he should go there and sleep for the night after which I would come to him in the morning.

 I further told him that in case he failed to see me before 8 am he should take my bag and return home. I then gave him enough money that would transport him direct from that point to Asaba and then my home-town. He was just looking at me all the while wondering what I was up to.

After some minutes of discussion, I told him to go and sleep and wait for me as instructed. I had only the clothes I was putting on, my international passport, some money, and my pair of clutches as my only possessions.

As soon as he left, I went back to bed ever apprehensive of a possible swoop by DSS agents. Indeed, I could not remember ever sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time during that tension-packed night, which resulted to three frightful dreams. These three episodic dreams not only defined the course of survival in the ensuing wilderness experience but revealed my tenacious attachment to my ancestral heirloom.

In the first episode, I dreamt where I was presented a dish of cassava fufu and pumpkin leaf soup (Akpu na ofe ugu). As I moved to eat it, a loud voice came from somewhere and warned me in a commanding voice that I should avoid that dish for the sake of my son. This was followed shortly with another dream where I was shown some raw cassava roots with fresh pumpkin leaves; with the same voice warning me again to take pumpkin leaf as a taboo the same way I took cassava.

As Odogwu of Ibusa I was commanded immediately after my initiation rites to regard every food product of cassava as taboo. The case of pumpkin leaves only came lately and only through a friend.

Indeed, I am implored take as taboo anything taken as such by the traditional priests (Ohene) of Oboshi and Iyi-Oji. The significance of those warnings clearly underscored the obvious intervention of our Mother-Deity Oboshi in the course of my experience, just as Mother-Deity Iyi-Oji had earlier warned me against the intrusive woman.

The third and last dream and indeed the most eventful to my eventual survival occurred shortly before I woke up to proceed to Uyo Motor Park for onward travel to Oron. In that dream I saw myself fleeing to a local apartment of about three rooms used as a Guest House, with an elderly man in charge.

When I entered the guest House, I met several little children with their mother equally booked as guests. I was a bit disturbed by their presence and complained to the proprietor that I would find it difficult to sleep there in the light of lack of adequate space. He however convinced me to take a separate room, which I accepted reluctantly but later decided to leave the place for lack of security.

As I step out of the building, I saw Prof James Okoro Ijoma rushed to me and held me tightly on my waist without the slightest chance of escape. I was powerless and totally demobilized physically. For the first time in my life, I saw myself momentarily pleading for mercy, but it was not heeded. I was taken to a nearby bush where one of the men with Professor Ijoma drew out a matchet to cut me. As I got hold of the matchet I saw dark blood splash out. The next moment I woke up.

Prof James Okoro Ijoma who hails from Arochukwu was not just my teacher at the Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but my mentor who indeed laid the foundation for my academic profession.

He took over the supervision of both my bachelor’s degree research project report, and my master’s dissertation when I had strong disagreements with my original supervisor, Prof Peter Esedebe from my hometown over what I considered as an attempt to force me into writing distorted facts of history outside my research findings.  Prof Ijoma was also instrumental to my first appointment in the School of General Studies, as a lecturer in 1994.

However, from father and son relationship we soon degenerated into adversaries following my open support for our once embattled Vice Chancellor Professor Oleka Udeala, whom Prof Ijoma’s Aro clique through his predecessor Prof Chimere Ikoku had propelled to that position with the hope of playing what Nyesom Wike is attempting to play on Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State today.

It should be recalled that Prof Udeala was later removed as Vice Chancellor by General Sani Abacha regime through the instigation of the Aro clique who had Mazi S. G. Ikoku, elder brother to Udeala’s mentor and predecessor, as Deputy Chairman of General Abacha’s Transition National Council.

After my election as the factional ASUU-UNN Branch Secretary in support of Prof Udeala, Prof Ijoma invited me to his office where he sternly warned me to stop supporting Prof Udeala or I would face the consequences. When I asked him for the reason, he said the man was stubborn and was not willing to take instructions.

Then I said but the man is your brother from Abia State; and he retorted by asking if I was the one to tell him who should be his brother. I told him, well sir, I don’t think that was enough for me to stop supporting Prof Udeala. He said okay, I would see. Then I left his office.

From that moment, he drew his claws out against me, starting from our department where he opposed my promotion for three consecutive years. He was the mastermind of the five arrests and detentions by the security agencies and subsequent arraignments in court for unproven criminal offences, of which arson was one, during General Abacha’s regime and after, of which I was acquitted of all.

 It was indeed in the midst of this assault that I found myself blackmailed as anti-Abacha Military Junta critic and subsequently detained for three months at Police State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Cell One, Enugu. I was later dismissed from the University on April 30, 1999.

The second episode occupied during my second coming in the University, after I was recalled under the democratically elected Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. During the International Conference on the Fifty Years Anniversary of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart help at Owerri in 2008, as one of the notable speakers groomed and invited by Professor Adiele Afigbo I advanced the historical concept of Re-Visiting the Reparation Question Through the Roles of Internal African Collaborators in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”

In the paper, I asserted that the Aro Slave middlemen merchants, of which Professor Ijoma’s ancestors were prominent, should pay reparations to the Igbo before we could advance the payment of such by the European merchants.

This was because the latter never ventured into the interior Sub-Saharan Africa to source for their human cargo, but were supplied the human cargoe by African native middlemen of which the Aro were the leading agents. 

In other words, if the Black African slave merchants did not bring their kinsmen to the Atlantic Coast for the Europeans to purchase, the Europeans should not have entered the interior to purchase them; and then there would not have been any Atlantic Slave Trade.

The paper was widely reported on Nigerian news media leading to a protest news conference against me by the Arochukwu Council of Chiefs, of which Professor Ijoma was a part.

Thus, it was obvious that Prof Ijoma might have been in collaboration with the Federal Government to eliminate me for that reason. Indeed, my former Aro-born fiancée Miss Blessing Emenike was once instructed by Professor Ijoma to warn me against further advancing the said notion of Aro paying reparations to the Igbo.

I never knew she was Aro since she claims Alayi in Bende Local Government Area as her hometown, until she made me to understand so following the warning from Prof Ijoma.

Meanwhile having made enquiries with the male receptionist of the local Guest House on the means of traveling to Oron who accordingly directed to Uyo Motor Park, I knew my next destination the following morning.

So early in the morning, just at the first sign of commercial traffic movements, I stepped out of the hotel and boarded a commercial tricycle to the point where I could get transportation to the park.

Based on the travel advice, I would take a direct transportation to Uyo, from where I would take another to Oron; one of the two designated points of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to either Gabon or Cameroon through the Bakassi Peninsular. By moving very early in the morning I had the motive of beating any security agent that could be sent out to track me down.

When I got to the park which was almost at the eastern outskirts of Port Harcourt, I was again advised to board Uyo-bound commuter bus from where I could then connect to Oron.

I heeded the advice without hesitation and quick chose a Toyota Sienna Sedan for better security concealment. With the help of the driver, I carefully tucked my pair of clutches— my major outward identity under the seat of the vehicle out of the view of the prying eyes of the likely marauding DSS agents.

Having been with the DSS before when it was known as SSS as an auxiliary agent during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and even after, I could easily discern anyone of them amongst the crowd by their uncommon cosmetic comportment in the public spaces.

Indeed, not long after settling down in the vehicle I noticed a man bearing the appearance of a DSS agent hovering around the park without a definite outward motive of either being a traveler or one of the motor transport workers in the park.

I nodded with uneasy caution and sat calmly on my seat without the slightest thought of getting down; and with intermittent side but cautious gaze at him, I diligently monitored his movement within the park till we left the scene.

On getting to Uyo I boarded another vehicle that eventually took me to Oron. Arriving Oron at late afternoon, I immediately located the loading beach where outboard engine boats transport people to Limbe, Southwest Region of Cameroon. I was informed that the beach for Gabon was located somewhere else and that transportation to Gabon only takes every four days.

The Precarious Crossing of Bakassi Peninsular from Oron-Nigeria to Limbe-Cameroon

When I arrived at the scene of take-off and discovered that the man who first confronted me— one Mr. Ernest was an Aro as he introduced himself, what flashed back in my mind was Professor Ijoma and the dream.

He promptly promised to help me arrange for my travel to Gabon that same day of my arrival. After taking me to an unknown house, he informed me that the boat to Gabon would not be available that day and, proceeded to direct me to where I would get accommodation at the cost of one thousand naira per night.

That turned out to be Minatus Aghas’ office apartment which is partly used as a Guest House for those transiting to and fro Limbe.

When I got there, I saw the scene in my dream replayed with a slight difference. I saw a Muslim woman with her kids, and I saw Minatus Aghas telling me to choose another room if I did not want to stay close to the woman and her little kids. Minatus informed me in the presence of Mr. Ernest that Mr. Ernest was a repented armed robber who had decided to give his life back to God.

I was later informed by Ernest that he was expecting two other passengers from Calabar who were equally traveling to Gabon. When the two young men arrived, my assessment of them was that of hardened hired-killers commissioned to do away with me.

 They never sat down for a moment but were all the while either standing or moving around restively and seemed to be anxiously watching over me. Meanwhile, not only that Mr. Ernest did not formally introduce me to the two young men, he told me not to tell anybody of his plan to help me for the Gabon trip.

I knew by then that I was in danger and must act quickly to nullify that ominous dream which was replaying itself right before my eyes. I had noted Mr. Minatus Aghas who introduced himself to me as an indigene of Imo State as a devoted Roman Catholic with the insignia of the Rosary and Mary Mother of Jesus Christ displayed boldly in the waiting room.

 I then approached him and informed him that I would like his Parish Priest to pray for me before I engage on the journey.

He promptly agreed and decided to contact on telephone the Parish Priest— the Very Rev. Fr. Charles Eking of Roman Catholic Church, Oron— a very fine gentleman with the calmness in mind characteristic of a true devotee of Christ’s vineyard with the full unction of the Holy Spirit.

 His unequivocal charismatic priestly carriage radiated a spiritual adventurism in the vineyard of Christ profoundly defined more by divine inspiration than by personal vocation.

Unfortunately, the Reverend Father informed him that he was away from the town for a wedding ceremony somewhere and asked if he could pray for me on phone. I said I was willing to wait for him till he comes back any time, to which he agreed.

 That singular decision became my saving grace of the moment. So, Mr. Minatus agreed to take me to the Parish Priest immediately after his duties. So, I waited till after 6 pm when he had completed all the processes of closure for the day.

In fact, Ernest was enraged when he discovered that I had informed Mr. Minatus Aghas of my predicament after having earlier informed me to keep our deal private to both of us without the knowledge of a third party; as if he was communicating to a little. But I assured him that I would be coming back to sleep at the Guest House after my appointment with the Priest.

And to prove the seriousness of my promise, I decided to leave behind one of my pair of clutches. As I stepped out of the house, I could notice the two young men dishing out horrible signs of disapproval to Minatus Aghas to which he was neither aware of nor willing to heed to. He never responded or took note of them.

By the time we got to the Church it was getting to the point of twilight and still the Priest had not returned. We decided to wait in the Church till the Priest arrived. On arrival, after formal introduction by Minatus he quickly called me inside his office where I narrated my ordeal and requested him to accommodate me for the night in addition to linking me up to any local Oron travelling agent to help me cross over to Cameroon.

I specifically pleaded with him that I did not want any assistance from any Igbo man, given the on-going threat from Mr. Ernest.

 He promptly agreed and drove me together with Minatus to the home of a local Oron Chief who promised to help me the following day. Meanwhile Ernest had been disturbing Minatus with incessant calls requesting him to bring me back to the Beach for the spurious Gabon trip, until I told him to inform him that I was no longer interested. But he was not yet done with me.

 The Priest that same night with Mr. Minatus Aghas took me in his Honda Accord to an Oron Chief who promised to help me. I was eventually taken by the Priest to his house where I was served a delicious dish of yam and stew and consequently fell asleep.

Early in the morning being Saturday June 2, 2018, after the Priest had gone to the Morning Mass living me behind, I discovered some strange voices and movements in and outside the house. I discovered that the Deacon— the ordained but yet to be confirmed Priest was in the house with me and did not go to the Morning Mass with the Priest and the house-boy.

 I listened with great apprehension as he struggled from one end of the house to the other to open the door for the men outside, who from all indications had come to kill me.

Thank God that the Priest locked every entrance to the house with keys and left with them. After about thirty minutes of fruitless attempts to open the door, I heard a call outside echoing “Pascal! Pascal! Let’s go.

From that moment the movements ceased, but I was still hiding behind the large deep-freezer in the room, until Mr. Minatus entered the room and called me out from my hiding place. I was later again served a breakfast of fried egg, tea, and bread to which I descended with ravenous delight.

Late in the afternoon both the Priest and Minatus rushed into my room and told me to get ready for the trip immediately. I was hurriedly served a dish of Eba (Garri) and Ogbono soup. But because of the taboo restricting my consumption of cassava, especially the dream-driven stern warning, I only managed to lick the delicious Ogbono soup.

The Priest had earlier apologized that he nearly forgot I was in his house.

In my desperation I forgot to put on my sandals which were left behind in the Priest’s house, and strikingly became a reminder of his unequalled benevolence towards me. I was taken through a narrow bush path leading to the private Beach of the Oron Chief whose house I visited the previous night with the Priest.

There I was rejected by the first passenger boat that was contacted, because of my inability to help myself into the boat, because I needed to be lifted into the boat.

That rejection immediately developed temporary trauma in me since it was like every plan of my escape had come to an end. But I was implored to exercise patience since there was yet another opportunity.

Not long after, another outboard engine boat with only two people on board loaded with drums of diesel arrived. I was subsequently lifted into the boat and put on top of the drums of diesel since there was no space for sitting passengers. Immediately I was put into the boat, we zoomed off; that was around 3 pm on Saturday June 2, 2018.

Travelling with an out-board engine fiber boat loaded with nine and a half drums of diesel through the famous Bakassi Peninsular was as memorable as it was seemingly suicidal.

 At one moment we saw ourselves entering into isolated creeks with overgrown Aquarian fauna and, in another moment, we saw ourselves stopping mid-sea with the out-board engine switched off all in the bid to dodge patrolling Nigerian Naval officers. This was even after we had paid the illegal duty at an obscure toll point in a creek off the main course of the Peninsular.

I was highly agitated with the constant maneuvering in and out of the isolated creeks. At one point they threatened to throw me into the sea if I made any further comment. I therefore decided to keep my mouth shut since frankly speaking, as I thought in my mind, it takes a man beyond the comprehension of normality to engage on that type of journey without the thought of the risks involved.

Indeed, I became a bit relaxed when we eventually entered the main Atlantic Ocean and subsequently began to confront the more friendly Cameroonian Naval officers on patrol who often signaled us to move ahead.

Finally, I was landed at an obscure and indeed illegal port at Limbe at about 10 pm after more than seven hours journey on Bakassi Peninsula. Since I could not help myself out of the boat, it took two men to lift me out of the boat.  On being placed formally on the land of Republic of Cameroon, I hived a momentary sigh of relief. Thereafter I demanded for any Nigerian within the neighborhood, but I was informed that it was difficult at that period of the night to locate anyone because of the subsisting curfew arising from the Anglophone-based Ambazonian insurgency. 

Thereafter one of the cab drivers agreed to take me to a nearby town called Batoke where he knew many Nigerians. I had only ten thousand francs with me and the man insisted that I must pay him the sum of seven thousand francs. All pleadings for the reduction of the fare failed. I had no alternative than to follow him, especially since the people around were advising me to go with him in order to save me from possible Police arrest.

I eventually boarded the taxi and proceeded on my journey from Limbe to the nearby Batoke town.

From Batoke Back to Limbe and  Limbe to Yaounde through Boua Safe-Corridor

On landing at some distance inside the town, the cab driver pointed to a building and told me that was where I would get a Nigerian and asked me to step out of the car to enable him park properly so as to enable him escort me to the place. But as soon as I got down, the man reversed the car and zoomed off.

I was left bared-footed standing on the middle of the road mopping like a confused tethered goat abandoned by its owner, not knowing what next to do. I had left my foot-wear behind at the Rev. Father’s house in Oron in the course of my desperate escape.

Similarly, I had abandoned one of my pair of clutches at the sea-side port office of Minatus Aghas to conceal my bid to escape from the planned onslaught by those sent by the DSS under the auspices of the Arochukwu-born Ernest. Thus, standing with the aid of a clutch and with no footwear on the lonely unknown stony street of Batoke, I began to contemplate what next to do.

After standing helplessly at the center of the road, I saw a glittering light at the other side of the road from a kitchen. I then made a move towards the direction. But I had to cross a little elevated terrain roughened with stones which were so painful that I nearly fell down, safe for the timely intervention of two unknown young boys who quickly help me up and subsequently aided me up the stony terrain towards the kitchen.

 On arrival and seeing me in a state of distress the women immediately gave me the pair of slippers she was putting on.

And consequent upon my request, she directed the two boys— one of them claimed to be of a Nigerian father who abandoned him, to take me to the house of a Nigerian close by.

When we got there, I discovered that the man was from Akwa Ibom State and not Igbo. He explained to me in a clear sympathetic manner why it was impossible for him to accommodate me that night, citing inadequate space to which I agreed with him, for the man was living in a make-shift one living-room with a narrow sitting-room constructed with bamboo sticks.

He however directed me to another Nigerian who turned out again to be his kinsman from Akwa Ibom State.

Although the second man lived in a more normal apartment constructed with cement blocks, there were however no space for an intruding unknown visitor like me, given the riotous nature of the environment created by the sprawling number of little children and multiple dogs and their little puppies all struggling for convenient spaces.

He however promised to link me up with the Chairman of Nigerian Community there. He tried several times to contact him on phone but he could not. He then instructed the boys to take me to the man’s house which was some distance away from there.

But the two young men advised that it was already too late to go there. Then the question became where would I sleep till the following morning? They suggested that we go back to the house where the woman gave me the pair of slippers and speak to the landlord.

 When we got there and I tried to explain in all honesty my circumstances, the man was not willing to listen to me but instead ordered us out of his house. It was then that the two young boys suggested that we try their Pastor who was living a stone-throw from the place we were.

When we eventually met the Pastor whose name is Pastor Dickson Hoe it was an uphill task convincing him to accommodate me for the reason of the Government order that information regarding the presence of any foreigner in the community must be relayed to the security agencies.

At a point he opted that I should sleep outside his house. It was at that point I got so infuriated with what I thought was an unchristian attitude from a supposedly pious Pentecostal Pastor that I told him it was better for me to sleep outside the young boys’ family house than to do so in his house.

It was at that point that he said okay, you can sleep in the parlor but that he had no extra mattress to support me. I told him it did not matter. Although he brought some disused cloths and spread on the floor for me to sleep on, but I preferred dozing off on the chair.

He then asked the two boys to come back the following morning to take me to the home of the Chairman of Igbo Community in Batoke Chief Anthony from Afikpo in Ebonyi State.

The following day being Sunday June 3, 2018, the two young men arrived as promised and subsequently took me to the home of Chief Anthony. When we arrived at his house, he was not around but his strikingly accommodating wife received us without qualms and immediately contacted his husband on phone who responded that he was on his way back home.

 Indeed, before he arrived his wife had served me a sumptuous breakfast dish of rice. She first served me cassava fufu with okro soup which she believed with the Igbo man’s favorite, but I pleaded with her to convert the fufu to rice, which she graciously did.

When Chief Anthony eventually arrived, I narrated my ordeal to him. With the keenness of a concerned father expressed through untainted Igbo patriotic spirit he swung into action immediately. He immediately contacted the Imo State-born President of Nigerian Community in Limbe who told him right from his Church service that we should proceed to his office at Limbe and wait for him.

When he arrived, he informed me that as the President of Nigerian Association he would not come to my aid openly but would do the little he could. According to him, reporting my matter to the Nigerian Consulate in Boua would attract immediate deportation back to Nigeria.

There it was resolved that I should proceed immediately to Yaounde to report at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for registration and eventual protection.

He in addition facilitated my travel to Yaounde with the sum of ten thousand francs. It was advised that I should take the longer but safer journey from Limbe to Yaounde where there were less security control points, that was through the Southwest Regional Capital City of Boua rather than taking the direct route which is through Limbe-Douala route. Chief Anthony eventually put me in a Boua-bound cab and directed the driver to drop me at the Boua-Yaoundé Musenge Bus Transport Company loading spot.

Both men refused to give me their contact telephone numbers. I eventually got to Yaoundé in the night and slept over in the bus park till the following morning being Monday the 4th of June, 2018.

In the morning, with the help of two fine young men I met in the course of my sleeping in the park I began a tortuous search for the UNHCR Office in Yaounde. When we eventually located it, I was informed that registration of intending refugees and Asylum-seekers only takes place on Thursdays.

The problem then became where to put up till that Thursday.  My guides who were only co-passengers the previous night were visibly tired and were becoming restless. I then asked them to take me to any Church where they have a Nigerian Priest.

 I was eventually taken to St. Raphael of Olinga Mbankolo District Yaounde where I met a young woman— a student of University of Yaounde named Fabiola who kept me company after narrating my ordeals, until the arrival of the Nigerian Priest called Father John, who happens to be a Yoruba from Kwara State.

He was clearly sympathetic with my situation but told me there was nothing he could do since he was not only an Assistant Parish Priest and also a student at the University of Yaounde.

He however directed me to another Parish where I could locate many Igbo members. He then called a motor-bike and instructed the rider to take me to Christ Roi Du Tsinga and directed me to ask for a Nigerian Priest called Father Daniel from Plateau State. He repaired my torn rubber bathroom slippers the woman at Batoke gave me and gave me the sum of three thousand five hundred francs. 

At Christ Roi Du Tsinga I waited for Rev. Father Daniel the whole day without meeting him. I was informed that he went to school. At about 7 pm I became restless and approached the Parish Priest who directed me to Father Daniel’s office.

When I got there, I met some people praying. I noted one man as Igbo because of his appearance and subsequently approached him. I informed him that I was looking for Father Daniel. He introduced himself to me as Mr. Ogbonna from Nsukka.

After narrating my ordeals, he felt sorry for me and decided to stay with me till Father Daniel arrives.

However, at around 10 pm when it was obvious that Father Daniel was not coming back for the day, we approached the Parish Priest for accommodation support but he responded that there was no accommodation in the Church and directed us to members of Caritas for support. But the Caritas office was already closed for the day.

With the help of Mr. Ogbonna I got a hotel accommodation nearby for nine thousand francs for the night. With only four thousand francs with me, he supported me with an additional sum of five thousand and bade me goodnight. I later pleaded with the hotel workers to help me with a low room which they did at the cost of seven thousand. I slept very well leaving tomorrow to God to decide my fate.  I also had the occasion to clean up and wash my lone cloths.

The following morning, stepping out of the hotel, I noticed two spare parts shops and perceived they must be owned by Igbo traders. When I got there, I was indeed not mistaken. They were owned by two spare parts traders from Imo State. After telling my story as usual, one of them opted to help me contact my people.

 I gave him Mr. Jude Sawyer’s phone contact; and instead of giving me his phone to speak with him, he was requesting for money in my name without my knowledge. When Jude insisted on speaking with me directly to be sure I was still alive, he cut off the phone. Frustrated he turned and told me there was no way they could help me.

 In fact, after staying with them for some time they advised me to start searching for where to stay for the night. It was then I decided to go back to the Caritas office at Christ Roi Du Tsinga as earlier advised. When I got there, I was informed by an elderly man I met that their meeting takes place at 5 pm. I therefore had to hang around till the time.

By 5 pm I appeared before the members of the Parish Caritas and narrated my story in which I requested their assistance. After an exhaustive interview, they resolved to help me with a two-night hotel accommodation to end by Thursday 6th of June when I would be expected to go for the interview.

They also assigned an elderly man to accompany me to the interview venue on the appointed day. On Thursday, I eventually went to the venue of the registration situated at Mini Prix Baston, opposite the Embassy of Gabon. With over a hundred Central African Republic refugees seeking registration at the same time it seemed impossible that I would be given attention that day.

But through Divine intervention, the officials were quick to note my state of disability and decided to offer me accelerated attention. Indeed, one of the UNHCR officers was so sympathetic with my situation that he gave the sum of two thousand francs and further gave me a free ride in his car against their rule to a considerable distance close to my destination.

He also used his Facebook account to locate my very good and trusted friend Prof Canute Ngwa at University of Bamenda.

I was subsequently registered the same Thursday, interviewed the following day being Friday at UNHCR Headquarters and thereafter issued with an identity document at the Headquarters with the following registration numbers: Case/HOH ID:417-18C 00698/Numero d’enregistrement: NIG/0001/18.

This eventually became my formal UNHCR identity document that became my saving grave almost the whole period I was in Cameroon as a fugitive.

Although I was told to wait for their call for the final stage of deciding my status, unfortunately the unfolding circumstances never allowed it to materialize.

It should however be noted that on Thursday after my registration I was shy to go back to the Church to seek further assistance for accommodation, since that was the limit, I perceived their support could go.

This time I decided to try the Presbyterian Church in Yaoundé. When I got there, I was informed that because of the absence of the Resident Priest, it would not be possible for me to sleep in the Church. That same night I decided to go back to Musenge Bus Park where I slept the first day I arrived, to pass the night till the following day. On Friday after the issuance of the paper I went back to the same motor park and slept.



 Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD

Odogwu of Ibusa

President, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)

Email: Nwaezeigwe.genocideafrica@gmail.com Visit us at https://icac-gen.org for more news and your financial support

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