RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 5

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - military, commercial motorbike, police training college, big tilapia, removed the fish gut and roasted the tilapias, two military trucks, helicopters, police college, soldiers, cave.



“Anybody who has information on how these people whose pictures appear on your screen now should call the number on the bottom right of the screen. They are Jingan believed to have sneaked across the border recently. They are wanted by the Jingan government in relation to a murder, so please do not hesitate to contact the military if you know where they are.” That was the voice of a female newscaster on the Bamenda Broadcasting Service. Izunga tuned in to the national television station and the same information was being broadcast. It was 6:00AM. He dashed into the bedroom where Ramuna and her children were staying. “Come out now! Bring your things and those of your children,” he said banging on the door. “What is it? Ramuna asked. “They are after you…all of you. Your picture and those of your children and parents in-law were on television a few minutes ago. We have to leave now.” Fear paralyzed Ramuna for a moment. She could not think. “But how? How did they…” “This is not time for questions, Ramuna. Pack your things. I am going to the boy’s quarters to get your parents and Idriga’s.” Izunga dashed outside, his heart beating faster.

Idriga woke up tired. He was lying on bare floor. He had used his bag as a pillow. Biting hunger ravaged his stomach, which growled angrily. He walked out of the abandoned building. He had dumped the military truck in Aguigo, a town near Tariba. From there, he took a commercial motorbike to Tariba and then another one to a place called, Illenga, not far from the border. He had spent years in this area during his police training days. He knew the police training college had been abandoned for years. The buildings were dilapidated, rustic and unkempt. He did not expect anyone to know where he was. He walked towards the river on the east end of the abandoned police college. He tore down a stem from a tree and used old, rusted metal objects to sharpen it into a spare-like object. Removing his clothes, he dove into crystal clear water of the river and began to head fish towards the shallow end.

CLICK HERE TO READ FROM EPISODE 1

He had his eyes on a big tilapia. When the fish became stuck in the shallow end, he took aim at the big tilapia and threw his spare at it. The first time, he missed. He managed to recover his spare. The second time, the tilapia was well struck, with the spare going in on one end and sticking out on the other end. He placed the tilapia on the river bank and went in for a second one. Soon, he had a hand fool of tilapias. His police college experiences were coming in handy. He returned to the rundown building with the tilapias and some firewood he had gathered on his way back. He built a fire using the firewood and the matchbox he had removed from the soldier he had attacked the night before. He methodically removed the fish gut and roasted the tilapias over fire. When he had eaten his fill, he returned to the river for a quick shower. Then, he began to count down to nightfall. He had a plan on how to cross the border.

“Sir, I think I know where that Jingan family whose pictures were shown on television this morning is hiding,” a man said over the phone. “Great, where are they?” A husky voice asked over the phone. “So, if I tell you where they are, I will receive five million Franc?” “Of course. You will receive that from the government.” “Wonderful. So you need my name, I guess?” “Yes, yes we need all that.” The man went ahead to leave his data with the man over the government line. “So, where is this family,” the man on the government line asked him. “You should send your men to No. 24 Lameaux Street, Bamenda.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am. The man in whose house they are staying is my neighbor. I have seen them all. They are hiding in his house now,” he emphasized. “Mr. Chewanga, we will be sending men down there in the next minute. I hope this is not a joke, because we will arrest you for false alarm, if nothing turns up from this tip.” “If I were you, officer, I’d be on my way to the address right now. I saw them there last night.”

In less than half an hour, two military trucks rolled into Bamenda, heading straight for Lameaux Street. At the same time, two military helicopters were on their way to Bamenda. Izunga helped Idriga and Ramuna’s parents onto his jeep. Then, his brother, Tiwana helped Ramuna and her two children onto his Ford Escape. As Izunga’s oldest son, Mathew opened the gate, he heard a thundering sound. Military trucks and tanks were headed to his street. “Go! Go! Go!” He yelled to Tiwana as the screeched out of the compound. Rather than take the main street, they took an untarred back country road behind his house. Driving as fast as they could, they headed down the rough, bumpy road out of town. Izunga had a place in mind. They needed to get out of town and into the forest before they were spotted by helicopters that he knew would be over the skies of Bamenda soon.

“Where is your father?” The most senior soldier asked Mathew. “I don’t know. I think he went to town with my uncle, Tiwana,’ Mathew explained. Gbosaa!!! The soldier slapped him. “I will kill you right here if you don’t tell me the truth!!!” He yelled at Mathew, shoving the nozzle of his gun into his mouth. His eyes were wide open; fear-stricken. “Where are they?” The soldier yelled at him one more time, placing a finger on the trigger. Mathew’s heart was beating so loud that you would thought an old steam engine was shunting inside him. The soldier stared coldly at him, his face covered in sweat and rage. He shook his head, shaking feverishly.

“The military truck stolen by Idriga has been found, sir,” a soldier announced to Sale. “Where?” “In Aguigo, just outside Tariba, sir.” I want a helicopter to Aguigo right now. Also, order five hundred troops from the closest military barracks to Aguigo ready to take my orders.” “Yes sir.” While he waited the arrival of the helicopter on a field near the building from where their search had been organized in Zenge, he turned on his laptop, logged into Idriga’s record and began to study it. After about ten minutes, a frown appeared on his face. He called the president. “Have you found him, Sale?” “Not yet, sir, but I think I know where he is.” “Where is that?” “Looking through his record, I can see that he studied at the police college in Illenga, sir. It is now an abandoned place. I have a very strong feeling that he is hiding there. He abandoned the truck he drove off in last night in Aguigo. It is not far from Illenga.” “What are you waiting for? Go and get him.” “I need all the artillery I can get, sir. A military jet, three helicopters and five hundred men, or more.” “That is approved. I will call the chief of defense staff to approve that, okay. Make sure you get him this time.” “I will, sir.”

Idriga was woken up by the sound of a military jet hovering above. His heart skipped. He knew they had found him. He rose quickly to his feet, put on his clothes and placed his backpack on his back. He looked through the window and saw a jet and three helicopters coming in. He waited for them to pass as they hovered looking for a place to land or drop off their occupants. As soon as they circled out of sight, he jumped out of the window and into the woods. He ran as fast as he could to nowhere in particular. He just wanted to get as far away as he could from the police college. Kakakaka!!!! Gunshots rang out. He ducked behind the trees and changed direction quickly. Foot soldiers were already on ground.

He ran, bending down as best he could to keep from being hit by bullets. “That way! To your right! Sir, we have sighted him!” Voices shouted in the woods as the sound of military boots pounded the ground behind him. He found a big tree stump with a small cave behind it. He quickly dove into the cave, dragging dead leaves and grass to cover the entrance the best he could. He listened attentively, carefully peeping through holes in-between leaves and grass. Gun-wielding soldiers ran in all directions. There were many of them. Soon, there was another batch running in the opposite direction to the first batch.

Suddenly, a soldier stood a short distance away from where he was hiding. He remained quietly behind the narrow cave, hardly able to breathe. The soldier stood there like a sentry, listening for the slightest noise. They knew he was not far away, so they had split up into groups that watched different areas. Then, the soldier began to walk casually behind the cave. “Any sign?” A voice shouted from a short distance away. “Not yet,” the searching soldiers echoed. The soldier began to stare at the grass and leaf-covered entrance to the cave. Idriga had moved slightly, drawing his attention. He moved closer, carefully. His gun was pointed at the cave, ready to explode at the slightest sign of life. He inched closer carefully.

Idriga could hear his approaching steps. His stomach convulsed. He did not know how deep the cave was, so he could run deeper in. Besides, that would attract the soldier’s attention, and then more soldiers. He stood just a short distance from the entrance, barely breathing. The soldier began to move grass and leaves aside with the nozzle of his gun. He worked methodically. Then, he peeped in. Idriga had stepped behind a rock, his hands shaking violently. The soldier stepped in, carefully, scanning the cave with keen attention. He dug out a torch from one of the numerous pockets in his uniform and flashed it deeper into the cave. It was winding and narrow, yet extending further in. His gut feeling was that this was a perfect hiding place. He walked slightly further in, his gun ready to shoot. On a second thought, he decided to call for backup.

He lifted his radio and began to raise it to his mouth. Like lightning, Idriga lunged at him, digging his dagger into his neck with brute force. Ugh!!! He grunted as he dropped to ground, blood spewing out of his neck. Idriga looked at him. A sense of remorse swept through him. He pulled himself together, knowing that it was killed or be killed. He took the soldier’s gun, radio and some snacks in his backpack. He shoved the snacks in his backpack, adjusted the military uniform he was still wearing, and dragged the dead soldier further into the cave. Then, he adjusted his military cap and placed the radio in his breast pocket. He carefully walked out of the cave and began to walk towards the river. He was cautious, yet he tried to exude some confidence as though he belonged amongst them. He navigated a tree line, walked past a clear patch of grass and then back onto an area densely packed with trees. He looked over his shoulders every few seconds. “Hello, where are you going? We need men in this area. What is your name? Come here!” A higher ranking officer shouted at him.

STORY CONTINUES...
               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 6
 
               CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 4

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 5
RAIDERS OF THE INNOCENT - Episode 5
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - military, commercial motorbike, police training college, big tilapia, removed the fish gut and roasted the tilapias, two military trucks, helicopters, police college, soldiers, cave.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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